Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Barker's Short and Creepy

Forget about short and sweet.  How about short and terrifyingly creepy!?
How about Clive Barker’s short story, "The Forbidden"?  The story that inspired the Candyman movie.  (Which, besides Eugenio Martín's Horror Express, is probably the only horror movie that got me as a child.)
Nevertheless, color me excited to have read "The Forbidden", without searching for the Books of Blood Volume 5 anthology it originated?  I say that because of my simple interest in reading where the Candyman movie's adaptation came from, and having only a mild interest in expanding on Barker.  Well, after reading "The Forbidden", I have to go back and correct that mishap by finding the anthology for more page-turning shorts.  Clive Barker sold me with this short and, creepily sweet, introduction into his work.  A work tangled with some nicely disturbing prose that sucked me into immobility for a good forty-five minutes.
The similarities between "The Forbidden" and the Candyman movie are almost-but-not-even-closely the same.  One difference is Barker’s story takes place in England, whereas the movie surrounds Chicago ghettos.  Another is the legacy and conception of movie-Candyman comes packaged, whereas the short is up for some deep and complex self-interpretation.  However, the main protagonist and storyline set-up is much the same.  Helen is a university graduate student doing her thesis on graffiti art.  What better place to gather information for her thesis than visiting the ghettos?  A place she clearly doesn't belong.  What she finds is graffiti art referring to some unknown entity titled Candyman.  An intrigued Helen begins to inquire the shifty locals about Candyman.  And she learns how this entity appears associated with a few  murders in the area.  Eventually, her snooping bites off more than she can chew.  Before long, her searching, prying, and poking leads Candyman right to her.  And as if to become a part of his legend, he offers her death as his latest victim.
"The Forbidden" is short, but worth some examination after you’ve had your hands on it.  Underneath the horror, I got bits and pieces of reflection on what manifests (speaking mostly as a mindset) inside economically disadvantaged communities mostly forgotten by governments.  The use of community stories to created threats of danger are like the tools the impoverish use to reject unwanted outsiders. They’re a community that no longer asks for outer assistance.  And yet, they're trapped into silence by an unbeatable mindset that they aren't meant to leave (hence Candyman).
Of course there’s more and plenty other ways to see "The Forbidden."  Still, if anything, just let the story creep you the hell out as Barker's prose drags you under.

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