A long time ago, Clive Barker wrote and directed (from his own novella The Hellhound Heart), the classic horror movie Hellraiser, a dark tale of deceit, sexual jealousy and betrayal that introduced us to the Cenobites – otherworldly creatures that relish pain, torment and despair. Their leader, Pinhead, became a horror icon but like Freddy and Jason before him, his original impact has been leached away by a parade of increasingly shoddy sequels. This book is Barker’s attempt to reclaim Pinhead, but there’s more riding on it. Much like Pinhead himself, after a spectacular start with the Books of Blood and the fantasy epic Weaveworld, both of which marked him out as a writer of prodigious talent and imagination, Barker’s work has tailed off into a long nose dive of mediocrity. These Gospels have been promised for years, and there were high hopes attached to them, especially with the news that Pinhead’s foil would be another of Barker’s long running characters, the occult detective Harry D’Amour. Supposedly, the original manuscript ran to around a thousand pages, before being cut down to this 350 page book. Which begs the question, considering what has been left in, how bad were the two thirds that have been cut? This isn’t going to be a glowing review, I’m afraid.
The book starts strongly, with an excellent scene of a magician murdered by Pinhead being resurrected by colleagues, only for them all to be slaughtered anew by the Cenobite. It’s a dramatic and cinematic episode with a real sense of building menace. It’s all downhill from there, though. D’Amour’s sections read like a parody of a hardboiled PI novel, while Pinhead has none of the melancholic grandeur we saw in Hellraiser. The paper thin story is to do with Pinhead attempting to wrest the rule of Hell to himself, while D’Amour does little but watch things happen around him. Ultimately, it’s just all so wearyingly adolescent. The first two thirds of the book are a parade of erections and gore, leavened with supposedly tough guy dialogue that just embarrasses. While things pick up a bit when we finally start exploring Hell, it’s still no more transgressive or imaginative than a Vertigo comic from twenty five years ago. The story is rushed, the characters are banal, their dialogue worse, and it’s just not very good. Pinhead deserved a better send off than this.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
No, I can’t recommend this to anyone.
One thing you’ve learned
Return to forms usually aren’t.