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Tuesday, 18 December 2012


I'm not really. Ho ho hoooooooooooooooooooo! Currently reading Clive Barker's CABAL. He's one of those writers I like, but sometimes really struggle reading. The Great and Secret Show is a case in point - moments of brilliance punctuated by really boring bits. I enjoyed The Hellbound Heart a bit more, as it's so short, but it honestly didn't grab me too much. But CABAL....yes. Yes, indeed.

It's interesting, as it's one of the few books I've read after seeing the film. I always understood the film to be maligned in that it veers away from the book, but so far (I'm almost halfway through the book) it seems pretty spot-on. Granted, I haven't seen Nightbreed in a while, but I remember enough so that scenes from the film play out in my mind when I read the relevant passage in the book. Except I like to keep replacing Craig Sheffer with David Boreanaz. In an interesting sidenote, Sheffer appears in (probably my favourite Hellraiser film) Inferno, as a PI caught in the world of the cenobites. So, two Clive Barker-related films under his belt and yet he still didn't get to star in Bones. My heart, it is sad. If only because those two things don't link together at all, apart from the Boreanaz reference.

So anyway. I picked Cabal up secondhand for about 30p. It has some lovely Barker artwork in it, and an interesting painting on the inside front cover - I'd scan these in, except the book's upstairs and I can't be bothered to go get it. Such is life! I do bemoan the lack of (decent, non-charity) secondhand bookstores in my town. I found Cabal in a FURNITURE shop, for crying out loud. There used to be a bookstore called ATLAS in Scunthorpe, that was literally crammed with books and comics. I could, and often did, lose myself for hours in that tiny, musty place. Most of my library is made up of nature-gone-amok/giant animal/monster books I found there, although I am still hunting down one I saw there that I never got called Throwback, that was about people turning into primates. If you find it, I'd love it as an anonymous Christmas present, thanks.

One of my favourite memories of Atlas is walking in, after finding out about HP Lovecraft, and asking if they stocked any. The old guy who ran the place literally laughed in my face and said "Good luck finding any of his work, mate" - this was back in 1995ish, when Lovecraft's work wasn't readily available in bookstores like it is nowadays (at least, not in any of the ones I went in). "Isn't that something by him?" I asked, pointing to a collection on the cluttered shelf behind him. "Oh yeah," he said, before selling me it. The plank. It was this:

I then set about hunting down the others in this series, namely:

This last cover is my favourite one. I honestly can't remember how I got into Lovecraft, which in itself is a bit Lovecraftian - like I heard his name whispered in dark corners, and it gradually worked its way into my consciousness until it consumed me. I do have a 'Lovecraft special' copy of Fangoria that I may have picked up before finding his stories, but I can't be sure. In any case, I found his voice, being as it is from the early part of last century, refreshing after reading a hell of a lot of 70s pulp horror (which I do still read on occasion).

Thanks to Lovecraft, I developed a taste for others of his ilk, such as Algernon Blackwood (it's maybe cliche to say, but 'The Willows' by him is excellent and shit scary) and Robert E. Howard. This was also helped by reading old Pan Horror anthologies, which I still collect if I happen to stumble across any.

In an unexpected way, Barker and Lovecraft share the fact they've had a lot of their work adapted for film, although not always precisely (for Barker, see: Rawhead Rex as a case in point). I find this particularly interesting for Lovecraft, as there used to be numerous films in the pipeline based on his work, but none of them ever came to fruition (such as a film of Shadow Over Innsmouth, though Stuart Gordon's DAGON presents a more than adequate version of this). There is, famously, now a 'Cabal' cut of Nightbreed, that apparently represents a non-studio-butchered version that's closer to the source material, though I've heard it's lacking in visual/audio quality, unfortunately.

But at least someone out there had the passion to see it through. I don't think horror is the only genre where fans have such an enthusiasm that they'll do stuff like this, but it appears to affect the genre more than any other - perhaps because, by its very nature, horror is often censored or cut or edited or what-have-you, and someone, somewhere, will want to know what the 'real' story/film is like. Curiosity is perhaps our species' greatest trait, but also our weakest. That sounded better in my head.

Anyway, enough of that. I've now been reminded of an old kids' show I used to watch back in the 80s called The Curiosity Show. I couldn't remember the full name, only that the title music had someone singing 'curiosity', so thank the universe for the internet! I'm sure I used to watch this in London, but with it being an Australian show, I probably watched it when I lived there (unless it was syndicated). I remember making origami flowers that opened when you put them on water - it's maybe on Youtube somewhere, but for now, have THIS! --->

And as per usual, some music to end with: