[Frequent Rue Morgue contributor and tireless office manager Ron McKenzie checks in with some cool news about Clive Barker. Just when I thought I was over the zombie craze, they pull me back in...]
It seems there is literally NO stopping Clive Barker. Recovering from his medical emergency of last February, Barker’s dance-card is filling up quickly. On top of the convention buzz and subsequent fan-supported movement for “The Cabal Cut” of Nightbreed, as well as plans to develop both Nightbreed and Hellraiser as television series, it was announced today that he has been handed the writing duties on a new and ambitious project.
Barker will be taking the creative reins on a film for Amazon.com’s new production company, Amazon Pictures. Currently titled Zombies vs. Gladiators, the film will tell the tale of an undead infestation in ancient Rome, brought on by a dying shaman’s curse, and the gladiator who stands against the army of shamblers to save his city. According to Amazon Pictures director Roy Price, it’s a perfect fit for the project. “Zombies vs. Gladiators is now in the hands of someone who has written genre-defining material throughout his career. We are excited to see how Clive will add his unique narrative to capture the essence of this story and propel the project into something unique and original that could one day be enjoyed by all audiences.”
As would be expected, Barker’s involvement means we can expect some interesting variations on the tried-and-true zombie story. “I am excited by the opportunity to interweave two very rich narrative threads,” Barker says. “One of them concerns itself with the reality of the decadence of Romeand its rise and fall. The other is a fantastical narrative element – the living dead. It’s something that seems almost plausible now that the science of it – my science – is dealing with the reinterpretation of what the death state actually is. We are reinventing the zombie here. This is not your father’s zombie. This is a whole new idea of what the living dead will be, from the mind of Clive Barker. When I created Hellraiser, my personal brief to myself was to tell the Faust but to never once revert to cliché. In other words, I would reinvent the whole idea of what the demons were, of what hell was and so on. In that same way, my brief to myself on this project is to give the audience not only zombies they have never seen before but also a Rome they have never seen before. “
Barker’s reasons for taking on this project all come down to the creative control he’s been given. In his words, “Amazon Studios offered up the dream ticket with this project. In twenty-five years of working in this town, I’ve rarely had people listen to what I had to say as closely and as carefully as they did and then simply give me the freedom to go do it. Amazon Studios is an innovative creative concept. I am looking forward to providing my own perspective to make Zombies vs. Gladiators a highly commercial and entertaining movie.”
No dates for production or planned release have been announced yet, but with this and other projects in various stages of development (including plans to bring his Abarat series to the screen with an as-yet undisclosed studio), it’s quite clear that Clive Barker is off and running, with no signs of slowing down.
Keep watching here, and in the pages of Rue Morgue Magazine, as more details are made available.