Books of Blood inspired by the works of Clive Barker is out on Hulu today! It’s easily one of the most-anticipated films of the year for fans of Barker’s writing. In advance of its release, iHorror sat down with the author and writer/director Brannon Braga to discuss bringing these particular stories to the screen in an anthology film.
This new film is hardly the first adaptation from The Books of Blood. The six-volume collection of short stories placed Barker firmly on the genre legends map, and among other things, introduced the world to Candyman.
So what is it that draws people back to this collection over and over again, not only as readers, but also to adapt for other mediums?
“Part of the whole idea of writing a collection of short stories is that each one is a bit different from the others and in the case of the Books of Blood I think very different often,” Barker said. “I think that’s in part what draws people. This is not werewolves. This is not vampires. This is something fresh.”
“I think I speak for tens of millions of people who are already fans of this collection of stories in that it’s Clive’s writing,” Braga added. “It’s Clive’s imagination. It’s the transgressive nature of these stories. These are things you’ve never seen or thought about. These are very intimate stories, often humanistic. Just a remarkable collection of stories. I’ve been a fan since they came out. I stood in line for two hours to get Clive’s autograph.”
In fact, as Barker pointed out Braga was the eighth person in the United States to receive a signed copy of one of his books. The exchange took place at A Change of Hobbit, a genre bookstore in Santa Monica that sadly is no longer open.
As the two reminisced about their meeting, it was impossible not to notice their genuine admiration and respect for each other, not only as creators but also as human beings. This only became more apparent as we turned to their current project and how it came to life.
While one of the stories featured in the anthology film comes directly from the original Books of Blood, the other two are new stories based on ideas that Barker has kept locked away for years. Some weren’t even written down.
“Imagine as a fan, sitting in a room, one on one with Clive Barker and him telling you, ‘Hey I’ve got some ideas for stories that you’ve never heard,'” Braga said. “Obviously, the first story in the first volume had to be in this because that’s the origin story of the Books of Blood. The other two kind of just fit. Clive came up with this idea of a haunted neighborhood where some kind of Chernobyl-like supernatural event happened and that turns out to be Mary’s house where the highways to the dead are open and we fashioned a story out of that about two criminals who wander into the wrong story.”
“The interesting thing about this–the part which is exciting to me–is that instead of being on my own fashioning these things, I’m with someone else who can add a phrase to my phrase and make something new,” Barker continued. “Two minds that make a third mind which resembles neither of us exactly but it’s a new horror imagination that appears when we get together.”
Of course it helped that they were also able to bring together a phenomenal ensemble cast to embody the stories, and Braga says that even he was surprised by their luck in that department while giving credit to the casting department.
“They just brought amazing people,” the director explained. “You never know, when you have a script, particularly when you have a script with intense subject matter who is going to be interested. Who is going to want to play Jenna? This mentally unstable girl who turns out to be a very complex individual, and it turns out we got Britt Robertson. I couldn’t even believe it. I was a fan of Britt’s. I guess there’s a little self-loathing in this. That feeling of why would anyone want to be in this movie? The ensemble cast that we have is really great.”
As our time together came to a close, both men turned a bit reflective, looking back over a year where many films have been postponed or their paths to finding an audience have been rerouted numerous times.
From Braga’s point of view, Books of Blood has been extremely lucky in this area. Hulu was not a consolation prize. The streaming platform was not “plan b.” This was where they were headed from the beginning and they’ve arrived on time.
And for Barker, who turned 68 over the weekend and who says he has more horror coming for readers in 2021, he hopes that this natural progression leads to more adaptations working together with Braga.
“The whole point is to get people watching so that we can do more,” he said. “There must be a lot of disappointed filmmakers around this year because a lot of things have been canceled or postponed and I feel very sorry for those guys. We had to cut back on our plan somewhat, but our real plan was to get it in front of a television audience which is going to happen. It’s the best birthday present I could get. It’s a lovely chance to get a wonderful piece of work in front of an audience. That’s more exciting than anything. The audience is there and we’re ready. It’s something very special.”
You can see Books of Blood on Hulu today. Let us know if you’ll be watching in the comments below, and stay tuned for more horror news on iHorror.com!