CC: The Books of Blood and Dread (2009)

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Friday, November 21, 2014

CC: The Books of Blood and Dread (2009)

Books of Blood are a series of horror fiction collections written by the British author Clive Barker.

There are six books in total, each simply subtitled Volume 1 through to Volume 6, and were subsequently re-published in two omnibus editions containing three volumes each.  Each volume contains four or five stories.  The volume 1–3 omnibus was published with a foreword by Barker's fellow Liverpudlian horror writer Ramsey Campbell.  [ed. Who by the way is also a Mythos author so we are inline with the whole Cthulhu thing again.]

They were published between 1984 and 1985.  With the publication of the first volume, Barker became an overnight sensation and was hailed by Stephen King as "the future of horror".  The book won both the British and World Fantasy Awards.

Although undoubtedly horror stories, like most of Barker's work they mix fantasy themes in as well.  The unrelentingly bleak tales invariably take place in a contemporary setting, usually featuring everyday people who become embroiled in terrifying or mysterious events.  Barker has stated in Faces of Fear1 that an inspiration for the Books of Blood was when he read Dark Forces in the early 1980s and realized that a horror story collection need not have any narrow themes, consistent tone or restrictions.  The stories could range from the humorous to the truly horrific.

 

Volume Two

Dread

A young student, Steve, becomes acquainted with an older student named Quaid.  Quaid is an intellectual with a morbid fascination with fear.  He eventually shows Steve how he, Quaid, kidnapped a vegetarian woman and imprisoned her in a room with merely a steak for sustenance, only releasing her when she finally overcame her dread of eating meat to prevent starvation; she eats the meat even though it has spoiled.  Steve becomes Quaid's next candidate for his experiments, held captive in a dark, silent room, forcing him to relive a childhood period of deafness that terrified him.  Steve is driven insane by this forced sensory deprivation and eventually returns to Quaid's house and butchers him with an axe.  Quaid's experiments, all along, were to try to help him understand the nature of fear, but ironically his experiments in phobias made his own worst fears come to life.

This story has been made into a film, with Jackson Rathbone playing Steve.


Dread (2009)

  • Genre: Drama – Horror – Thriller
  • Directed: Anthony DiBlasi
  • Produced:
    • Lauri Apelian 
    • Clive Barker 
    • Peter Bevan 
    • Jeremy Burdek 
    • Joe Daley 
    • Anthony DiBlasi 
    • Robert How 
    • Nadia Khamlichi 
    • Micky McPherson 
    • Adrian Politowski 
    • Richard Reiner 
    • Karl Richards 
    • Jorge Saralegui 
    • Nigel Thomas 
    • Charlotte Walls
  • Written:
    • Clive Barker (Short Story "Dread") 
    • Anthony DiBlasi (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Jackson Rathbone, Hanne Steen, Laura Donnelly, Jonathan Readwin, Shaun Evans, Vivian Gray, Carl McCrystal, Derek Lea, Siobhan Hewlett, Kieran Murphy, Cheyanne Raymond, Zoe Stollery, Elspeth Rae, Erin Gavin
  • Music: Theo Green
  • Cinematography: Sam McCurdy
  • Editing: Celia Haining
  • Studio:
    • Essential Entertainment  
    • Matador Pictures 
    • Midnight Picture Show 
    • Cinema Three 
    • Regent Capital  
    • Newbridge Film Capital  
    • Entertainment Motion Pictures  
    • Motion Investment Group  
    • Pepper Post Production  
    • Plum Films  
    • Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique  
    • uFilm
  • Distributed:
    • After Dark Films  
    • Audio Visual Entertainment  
    • Deltamac Co.  
    • E1 Entertainment Benelux  
    • Echo Bridge Entertainment  
    • Noori Pictures  
    • Reel DVD  
    • Sunfilm Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 14 July 2009 (Canada) 
    • 30 August 2009 (UK) 
    • 29 January 2010 (USA)
  • Running Time: 108 minutes
  • Country:
    • United Kingdom 
    • USA
  • Language: English

At a small college, Quaid and his friend Stephen do a "fear study" as a school project, recording people talking about their greatest fears.  Quaid however is quite insane and wants to take the fear to 'the next level'.  Quaid had seen his parents killed by an axe murderer as a child; this is his greatest fear, and he wants to learn what makes others afraid and what it takes for them to overcome their fear.  Stephen's brother had died while drunk-driving, and Stephen wonders if his brother would still be alive if he had driven instead.

Cheryl, who is the project's editor, was molested by her father as a little girl.  He worked at a meat-packing plant and smelled of meat while molesting her; to this day, she can't stand the smell of meat and refuses to eat it.  Quaid kidnaps her and locks her in a room with a slightly salted, well cooked beef on a plate.  After about a week, she finally eats the entire piece of rotten beef.  Joshua is a student whose fear is becoming deaf again because he temporarily lost his hearing after a childhood accident.  The following night, Quaid knocks him out and fires a gun next to his ears, shattering his eardrums and leaving him deaf again.  Abby, another student, has a dark birthmark covering half her face and body, which she doesn't want anyone to see, terrified of being teased or shunned because of it.  Quaid sets up video footage of her stripping naked before sex on every TV on campus, showing her naked and covered in birth marks.  Humiliated, Abby fills her bathtub with bleach and starts scrubbing off her skin with steel wool.  Stephen finds her naked and bleeding and gets her to the hospital.  He then goes after Quaid with a fire axe.  Joshua follows him, assuming Stephen and Quaid are working together.

When Stephen confronts Quaid, he is knocked out and awakens tied to a chair.  He manages to break free but runs into Joshua, who stabs him with the fire axe.  Quaid shoots Joshua, killing him, and watches Stephen die from the axe wound.  He drags the body to a room in the basement, where Cheryl is.  He throws Stephen's body in along with a switchblade and says, "Let's see how hungry you have to be to get through that."  He leaves her crying with Stephen's dead body with only a matter of time before she starts eating his flesh from hunger.

The 104 page script was shot in just 28 days.  The paintings in the film were created by Nicole Balzarini.  The film had its world premiere at the 2009 Montreal Fantasia Festival, where it picked up a distributor in After Dark Films.  It was announced that Dread would be included in the films in the fourth After Dark Horrorfest in 2010.  The film was released on 29 January 2010 in US Cinemas.

Allan Dart of Fangoria called it "a mixed but overall positive" adaptation of Barker's story.  Scott Weinberg of Fearnet called it "a clever balancing act between basic scares, a creepy concept, and something a little more (dare I say) cerebral."  Paul McCannibal of Dread Central rated it 4/5 stars and called it "a well made adaptation of the short story" that "is well worth your time."  Dennis Harvey of Variety said that the film "intrigues, even if it doesn’t entirely satisfy".  Noel Murray of The A.V. Club called it "overwritten and more than a little pretentious".  Brett Cullum of DVD Verdict called it a good Barker adaptation that is "certainly worth checking out".  Ian Jane of DVD Talk rated it 3.5/5 stars and called it "a nasty, twisted little thriller that features some good performances and stand out set pieces that help you look past its low budget." And most importantly Mike at Monster.Movie.TV found it to be not much more than the of equivalent of fast food for horror movies and bordering on torture prom but if that is what you want than that is exactly what you’ll get here.


Notes:

1.  Faces of Fear is a World Fantasy award-winning book (Berkley Books 1985, revised 1990) where writer, critic and lawyer Douglas E. Winter interviews seventeen contemporary British and American horror writers about their life and art.  The writers are V. C. Andrews, Clive Barker, William Peter Blatty, Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, John Coyne, Dennis Etchison, Charles L. Grant, James Herbert, T. E. D. Klein, Stephen King, Michael McDowell, Richard Matheson, David Morrell, Alan Ryan, Whitley Strieber and Peter Straub.  The book was a finalist for the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book.

 

Sources:

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