Friday, January 25, 2013

Rare Novella Review: Cabal


I am currently obsessed with Grumpy Cat (see earlier post) and Clive Barker.  Grumpy Cat doesn't quite give me the nightmares that Clive Barker does, so Barker wins this round.  Delving into Barker's world is a bit like having a fever dream.  I know I should wake up and get out but I can't, and really don't want to.  Inspired by Rue Morgue's excellent recent cover story on Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut, I finally read the $1.99 paperback I had picked up a few years ago at a used book store. I had been meaning to read it for years, but you know how that goes. 


I saw Nightbreed a few years ago, well aware of the troubles surrounding it and Barker's well justified unhappiness with the finished product.  I have to say I love this movie: flaws and all.  For one thing, it stars David Cronenberg, one of my number one horror boyfriends.  Cronenberg and Barker together.  Yes, I just died and went to heaven.  The Berg plays Decker, the all too human villain of this story. 

The Rue Morgue article is about the restored Cabal Cut that is making it's way around the festival circuit.  The studio needs to release this.  I mean really.  Or, they need to finally stop playing Life of Pi at Palo Alto Square and book this movie!  Seriously.  A movie theatre within walking distance to my apartment and they play the same movie for 3 months.  Before Pi is was the Marigold Hotel thing.  For like a year. 

 
Click on the picture to "Occupy Midian" and sign a petition to get this film released!  Finally, on to the novella!  The main difference between the film and the novella is Lori.  She is really the hero, so to speak, in Barker's story.  I felt that in the film she was a little annoying, but now I love the character.  She chases after Boone when he accused of terrible crimes.  She becomes obsessed, wants answers, and even she doesn't know why.  In the novel she is propelled more by curiosity than love, and she falls in love with the world she discovers in Midian, even as she is repulsed by it.  I love this passage:
 
All that she'd coveted or envied in others of her species now seemed valueless.  Dreams of the prefect anatomy- the soap opera face, the centerfold body- had distracted her with promises of true happiness.  Empty promises.  Flesh could not keep its glamour, or eyes their sheen.  They would go to nothing soon. 
But the monsters were forever.  Part of her forbidden self.  her dark, transforming midnight self.  She longed to be numbered among them.
 
No other work by Barker has reminded me so much of Guillermo del Toro.  The celebration of monsters: the idea that monsters can be loved, can be admired.  This idea is on full display in Cabal.  Midian is a refuge for monsters. A sanctuary.  Some want to be part Midian, like Narcisse, the human who goes to extremes to prove he is a monster down deep.  (Quick aside: I seem to be reading or watching a lot of horror where people get their faces torn off.  Can we stop this please?  This grosses me out more than most other forms of head trauma. Thank you.)  Some, like Boone, join Midian because they have no choice.
 
Of course, the real monster in Cabal is Decker.  Decker is so black inside that even the residents of Midian would reject him.  Decker uses Lori to get to Boone, which has unfortunate consequences for Midian. 
 
This story is SO GOOD!  Read it, really, if you haven't.  Warning: nightmares will probably follow.  And try to catch Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut if it plays near you.  I am off to see Life of Pi for the twentieth time.  God, I hate Pi and that damn Tiger.
 

1 comment:

Cellar Door said...

I'll read it as soon as I finish that fantastic book you gave me for Christmas! That quote from Lori- that could be you.