Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In the Flesh, by Clive Barker

(pb; 1986: story anthology)

From the back cover:

"In the depths of an abandoned steam bath, strangely beautiful women seduce two businessmen into a ritual of macabre sexuality; in a Greek asylum, wise men race frogs to decide the fate of the world; a petty convict's cellmate reveals to him the gruesome birth of evil; a young woman's slum research leads her into the hook-handed grip of The Candyman, a vicious supernatural killer."

Overall review:

This is one of the few perfect anthologies I've read. Barker's writing is word-tight, character-memorable and idea-wild, its themes relevant and relatable, with many of its lines quotable.

In the Flesh is easily one of my all-time favorite anthologies, as well as one of my favorite Barker reads.

Worth owning, this.

Review, story by story:

1.) "In the Flesh" - Cleve Smith, an incarcerated felon, gets a new cellie (Billy Tait), a young man whose quiet manners conceal a harsher, gorier world.

Perfect, gripping, exemplary read that references one of Barker's other stories, "The Books of Blood" (collected in the anthology Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume One).

2.) "The Forbidden" - A woman (Helen), writing a sociological theme paper, happens upon a shadowy urban legend that may be far more relevant than she ever imagined.

Thought-provoking, wise (in its roots-of-fear way), exciting and unique - not to mention (again), perfect.

Two directly-linked films resulted from this story.

The first, a 36-minute short titled after the story, was released in 1978.

Peter Atkins played Faust. Doug Bradley, Julia Blake, Phil Rimmer and Lyn Darnell also acted in the short, though their roles aren't named on

Clive Barker, who scripted and directed the film, also acted in it.


The second version, Candyman - this one a full-length work - was released stateside on October 16, 1992.

Virginia Madsen played Helen Lyle. Tony Todd played The Candyman (aka Daniel Robitaille). Xander Berkeley played Trevor Lyle. Kasi Lemmons played Bernadette 'Bernie' Walsh. Vanessa Williams played Anne-Marie McCoy. Ted Raimi played Billy. Rusty Schwimmer played "Policewoman".

Bernard Rose scripted and directed the film.

Two sequels, both of them starring Tony Todd, followed: Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and the direct-to-video Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999).

3.) "The Madonna" - An abandoned bathhouse is the site of damnation or salvation for two men, a wealthy thug (Ezra Garvey) and his business partner (Jerry Coloqhoun).

Gripping, distinctive and science fiction-wild take on the themes of masculinity/femininity, religion and motherhood, with a story finish that is reader-resonant.

In 1989, Eclipse Books published a comic book mini-series, Tapping The Vein, that is based on Barker's writings.

Fred Burke adapted, and Stan Woch, Fred Von Tobel and Mark Farmer illustrated "The Madonna" in issue #4 (its front cover is seen below). This same issue contains an adaptation of one of Barker's other stories, "Hell's Event" (published in Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Two).

4.) "Babel's Children" - Vanessa Jape, an insatiably curious, roadtripping woman, stumbles upon a long-held, world- and life-changing secret on a backroad.

Fun, relatively light work, that's as fascinating and relatably weird as the other stories in this anthology.

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

Yep, one of my favorite Barker collections! Stories are stellar and the writing some of his best. Reread it last year and loved it as much as I did way back when.

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