The theme for tonight is adaptations of the stories of Clive Barker. I’m a big fan of his writing and especially the short story collections called the Books of Blood with its strange mixture of supernatural tales, some comic, some gruesome and others both gruesome and comic
This story is definitely one of the gruesome tales and this adaptation has gallons of the fake red stuff both physically and unfortunately CGI The story is fleshed out quite a bit from the short story, giving its protagonist Leon (Bradley Cooper) a job, a fiancé and some friends.
Leon is a struggling photographer who gets told by an art dealer that his work isn’t quite gritty enough and he‘s told to get deeper and stay longer when trying to capture the dark heart of city life. He photographs a bunch of thug who are about to rape a young woman in the subway and frightens of the attackers. The woman gets on a train and is murdered by Mahagony (Vinnie Jones) a silent killer who hunts for his prey on the late night trains. His weapon of choice is a huge meat tenderiser
Next day in the newspaper Leon reads that the woman has gone missing and tries informing the police who don’t seem interested his evidence. Leon seems constantly drawn to subway and to Mahogany and starts following the man and eventually witnesses him in the act of butchering another passenger. And that is literal as he prepares the bodies for consumption and hangs them on meat hook ready for consumption by something strange and bestial hidden down a disused art of the subway.
This film really revels in the gore and there’s a lot of it sloshing around when Mahogany butchers people with CGI eye flying at the screen from Ted Raimi’s head and somehow a hammer manages to take someone’s head clean off. This is the main point of the film and the plot that gets the characters involved was passable but wasn’t very convincing and there was only hint of an explanation of who the C.H.U.D.s were and why Mahogany fed them.
This low-budget adaptation looks like it was filmed around my home city of Glasgow in the area of Glasgow University. The story is expanded a bit from the original and is framed inside an adaptation of the related story On Jerusalem Street. It works well and this film is kind of growing on me. It has a slow build to really neat climax that succeeds creating the tone of the Clive Barker story.
Mary Florescu (Sophie Ward) is some sort of academic working in the woo woo field of ghosts and has written books al about it but has never found verifiable evidence of the paranormal making all her study nothing more than a collection of strange anecdotes. She leases a house that has a grisly reputation thank to at least two nasty deaths apparently at the hands of ghosts who had written “Don’t mock us,” on the wall of the attic room. The earlier dead the was a fake medium called Tollington (Doug Bradley) and then there was the girl who dabbled in seances with her friends and get her face torn off for her offence.
One of her students is Simon MacNeal (Jonas Armstrong) who was said to have psychic powers as child. She wants him to spend time in attic room to see if they can get verifiable contact with the spirits. She believes Simon is the real thing but her assistant Reg Fuller (Paul Blair) never trusts him and is jealous that Mary is attracted to Simon.
It turns out that Simon is a fake but by the time Mary finds that out Simon is experiencing the ghosts for real and he can’t get Mary and Reg to believe him. He tries to contact them one more time and this time they make their presence felt. The house is an intersection between a highway of the dead and the living world and the dead are angry at the fraudsters that stop people listening to their stories. They decide to carve their stories in Simon’s skin so that Mary can translate them and put them into her books.