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Barker, Clive (b. 1952)  

Clive Barker is perhaps best known as the writer and director of the modern classic horror film Hellraiser (1987), which spawned multiple sequels, and as the executive producer of the Oscar-winning film Gods and Monsters (1999), based on the Christopher Bram novel Father of Frankenstein (1995), about gay film director James Whale. However, Barker is also a prolific fiction writer, actor, playwright, painter, and illustrator, as well as a developer of comic books and computer games.

Barker's work often features gay, straight, and lesbian characters. While Barker commands a particularly loyal gay reading audience, to date he has had little success in placing positive gay characters into the world of his horror films.

Born in Liverpool, England, on October 5, 1952, the son of an Italian mother and Irish father, Barker moved to London at the age of 21. He became the founder, playwright, and director of a small theater group there.

When not working at the theater, Barker began writing short horror stories. These stories were eventually published as a three volume set entitled The Books of Blood (1984 and 1985), which brought him international fame at the age of 32 and inspired Stephen King to declare him "the future of horror."

The success of Barker's stories enabled him to begin writing and directing horror films. He debuted as a director in 1987 with Hellraiser, which was based on one of his novellas and featured a character popularly known as "Pinhead"--a needle-pierced demon. Barker went on to produce three sequels, Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988); Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992); and Bloodline: Hellraiser IV (1996).

He also produced the horror film Candyman (1992) and its sequel, Candyman II: Farewell to the Flesh (1995). Other, somewhat less successful films Barker worked on include Rawhead Rex (1986), Nightbreed (1990), and Lord of Illusions (1995).

He has also produced several made for television movies, some of which have been based on his stories, and has written others.

Barker is also the author of over a dozen novels. His early works in the genres of horror and suspense include such titles as Weaveworld (1987), Cabal (1989), and Imajica (1991). More recently, Barker has moved towards writing fantasy fiction, such as Abarat (2002).

In 1992, he wrote and illustrated The Thief of Always. Although marketed as a fable for all ages, Thief is really a children's book. Its hero is ten years old and the story, about the boy's visit to a land where each season passes in one day, is conveyed in simpler prose than that of Barker's adult books.

His later novels Sacrament (1996) and Galilee (1998) consider issues closer to Barker's life--gay sexuality, love, and the purpose of art.

Coldheart Canyon, published in 2001, distills motifs from nearly all of Barker's earlier writings. The novel's sophisticated merging of the fantastic and the real, as well as its central device--a room of painted tiles that come alive, luring mortals into the hell they depict--echo themes explored by Barker in his works of the late 1980s and early 1990s, books that sealed Barker's reputation as a writer of remarkable imagination.

Barker has also been the creative force behind a series of comic books published by Marvel Comics. His dark fantasy comics include Razorline, Ectokid, Saint Sinner, and Hokum & Hex, each of which debuted in 1993.

Barker currently resides in Los Angeles, with his lover, the photographer David Armstrong.

Craig Kaczorowski


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A portrait of Clive Barker by Stathis Orphanos.
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   Related Entries
arts >> Overview:  Film

Since cinema began, Hollywood has been fascinated with finding ways of representing homosexuality.

literature >> Overview:  Ghost and Horror Fiction

Both male and female homosexuality or homosexual elements appear throughout the broad scope of ghost and horror fiction.

arts >> Overview:  Horror Films

The monsters of horror films may frequently be read as mirrors of societal views of homosexuals as predatory, amoral, perverse, possessed of secret supernatural powers, and threatening to "normal life."

literature >> Bram, Christopher

Christopher Bram's novels address homosexual issues in a variety of periods and locales.

arts >> Condon, William "Bill"

Having earned critical acclaim for his work on Gods and Monsters (1998), Chicago (2002), and Kinsey (2004), screenwriter and film director William "Bill" Condon has become a leading American filmmaker.

arts >> DeCaro, Frank

Funnyman Frank DeCaro has found success both in serious journalism as a fashion writer and editor and in comedy as a writer, performer, and radio talk show host.

arts >> Whale, James

Director James Whale is best remembered for his stylish horror films and for being one of the few openly gay Hollywood figures of the 1930s.

arts >> Williamson, Kevin

Screenwriter-producer-director Kevin Williamson is best known as the writer of clever, self-referential horror films and as the creator of the groundbreaking television series Dawson's Creek.


Lemon, Stephen. "King of Pain." Salon. February 4, 2000.

Zaleski, Jeff. "The Relaunch of Clive Barker." Publishers Weekly, Supplement. October 1, 2001. S1-S16.

Visions, The Official Clive Barker Web Site.


    Citation Information
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Barker, Clive  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated January 9, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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