Comic-Con 2007: Barking Mad

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Dear Satan, what the hell happened to Clive Barker?

I interviewed him a few years ago for our late sister-paper New Times LA, and found him charming, lucid, smart, fan-friendly -- everything you'd hope he would be.

Today, I don't know what to make of him. His croaky voice and odd manner initially appear to be a put on, part of a joke in which he says he's been coming to Comic-Con since biblical times when his mother Mary brought him to read books about his father. The joke dies. But his voice still sounds like throat cancer. Apparently not a fake "old man" voice after all. Plus he trails off in mid-sentence, seems to barely register what's going on...we're talking Ozzy on season 1 of The Osbournes.

This is slightly worrying. Barker has long said he didn't expect to live much past middle age, since Barker men don't usually. I fear he may be artificially hastening things.

He's here to promote the new movie based on his short story, Midnight Meat Train. Director is Ryuhei Kitamura, of Azumi, Versus, and Godzilla: Final Wars.

Barker says viewers "won't find any gentle, soft, just for the sake of entertainment horror here. This is the real deal." Calls it the best adaptation of his short fiction to date, including his own films.

Says he got the idea for the title after accidentally eating a whole plate of marijuana cookies. This becomes a running gag. He's so out of it that actor Vinnie Jones starts "impersonating" him by screeching incoherently into the nearest microphone. Jones plays a butcher who butchers people on the subway at night -- Barker is a big PETA guy whose nightmares involve animal cruelty.

A preview clip says the movie is "from the legendary mind of Clive Barker." That legend is taking a big hit tonight. Maybe a bong hit.

A scene in the movie involves an art gallery, with actual Barker paintings -- Kitamura chose two depicting huge penises. When hottie actress Leslie Bibb saw them, she said she was taken aback, then said "Let's have lunch!"

Next movies for Barker: A Books of Blood framing tale about a fake medium a la John Edward who is subject to a ghostly vengeance when actual ghost tales are carved onto his skin in glass. Also Pig Blood Blues, about " a huge sow which eats miscreant adolescents." Says this is base don encountering a real huge sow that looked smarter than the Fox News guy hosting. Promises "we are gonna give great pig!"

Barker has to be escorted out by fellow panelists at the end -- doesn't seem to know where he is.

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