May 26, 2009

DVD Review: Clive Barker's Book of Blood (2009)

"Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red."

Cast Members of Note- Jonas Armstrong, Sophie Ward, Paul Blair, and Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley! Based on a short story by horror legend Clive Barker.

This movie starts out with a homeless guy being kidnapped, then segues (via flashback) into a scene of a kinky death-obsessed girl being raped by a ghost for mocking the spirit world. She must have been goth. What other answer could there be? I've had sex with ghosts, but they've never "made" me do it... though I do think it's because I'm of "easy virtue." You know, a slut. (Just don't tell my Mom, she still thinks I'm an Angel.)

This is proof that being goth can actually kill you.
The story then becomes a tale of a fake medium and a MILF professor/psychic researcher who decide to stay in the ghost-rape house to obtain proof of the existence of the spirit world. One of them does a lot of writing and self mutilation, the other turns into a whore and sleeps with him. I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

Yes, yes, put your hand down... we already know which one you are!
From here on out the ghost world gets even more mad at people mocking them, and decide to take action; they make dragonflies land on peoples faces, make whispery noises, and carve their untold stories into a guys body... I won't spoil the ending for you here, but suffice it to say that pissing off the entire spirit world at a nexus point between their world and ours probably isn't the best of ideas.

Sure I'm going up there all alone. Right.
Book of Blood is technically the cornerstone of Clive Barker's Horror world: The main character (Simon) becomes a living book of the dead's tales, their stories being imprinted on him for us to read. Lord of Illusions, Rawhead Rex, Candyman, Midnight Meat Train, and the upcoming Dread, all are from the Books of Blood series, and they could easily make about 5-10 more solid movies out of those little short stories.

The movie is filled with some great and gruesome special FX, and some pretty good moments of tension. My only wish is that they had tightened up the plot a bit and moved forward full bore, rather than spending so much time on set up and trickery. I did like the beginning and end wrap story though, which came from Barker's "sequel" to Book of Blood, On Jerusalem Street (A Postscript.) It added some nice nastiness to the whole affair and gave a bit of closure in a way. 

Not even a character in the movie really, "Girl in pub #1" was just too cute not to include here.
The third act... it was a bit disjointed. All of the tension and mood that had been built up from the beginning went right out the window towards the end... it almost made me feel bad for the ghosts instead of being afraid of them like I should be. I guess I just didn't like the "good guy" becoming the "bad guy." Having read the story years ago, and having always loved it, maybe I overreacted a bit seeing it on screen for the first time.

He's conflicted.
The dreaded "twist." To be fair, the twist in this movie was a part of Barker's original short story, but I don't remember it leaving me feeling so cheated in print. I seem to remember it serving the plot in a more subtle way too, rather than upending the whole damned story.

Why always a twist?!?
Ghost-rape, face ripping, multiple acts of body carving/writing, vomiting, gallons and gallons of blood, and a skinning. This is one bloody book.

"Oh God! I can see forever!"
Plenty of nudity, eroticism, sex, and um... well, ghost-rape to go around. A good deal of it was creepy.

She's not creepy though.
"We have such sights to show you!" Oh wait, wrong Clive Barker movie...

The dead have highways. Also, old chicks are pretty slutty, and easily duped.

Old chicks are also creepy.
This is a pretty good movie, albeit with some misgivings that keep it from being what it should have been. You can definitely feel Clive Barker's touch throughout Book of Blood, just not near enough of it. Check it out, but beware the twist that pretty much craps on the first hour of the movie.


Book of Blood is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.

Clive Barker has one of the most twistedly-brilliant minds that the Horror genre has ever known. Recognize.


  1. The gore in this looks crazy (but not fun...)!

    - Zac

  2. Man, I'm disappointed that it's just a C, still good enough to want to watch, but I'm not near as excited as I was to see it.

  3. Don't let a "C" grade dissuade you... it really only means average, which doesn't necessarily mean poor...

    I liked Book of Blood, I just should have been able to like it more.