The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker (a book review)

One of the main characters in The Scarlet Gospels is a character first found in Clive Barker’s earlier novella, The Hellbound Heart, upon which the Hellraiser series of movies were based. The character is the lead Cenobite, referred to as the Hell Priest in The Scarlet Gospels. He has nails sticking up from his head, earning him the nickname of Pinhead behind his back by the people he tortures. He despises the name and it makes him angrier when his nemesis, Harry D’Amour, taunts him with it.

Pinhead is pure evil; his existence in Hell has been focused on collecting and learning all kinds of magic that he eventually uses to destroy any obstacles that come between him and his confrontation with Lucifer. The other characters and subplots are all intriguing and wildly imaginative. Barker’s descriptions of the creatures in Hell and Hell itself is relentlessly graphic and gruesome. They are very easy to see in your mind’s eye. I don’t want to give too much away. If you like to be stunned, shocked, or just shaken up, then this is a good read. It is entertaining and definitely has dark humor within the darkness of the subject.

I started to read Clive Barker’s books soon after I saw the movie, Hellraiser. I was intrigued by the Pinhead character because when the movie first came out in 1987, there was nothing quite like it. Also, if you have been watching other horror films since then, note that the hook and chains we’ve seen in other films had their start here. That same is true of other scary visuals that pioneered first in Hellraiser. Another horror film classic I find just as trendsetting is Phantasm. It is vintage.

I’ve listed below other books I’ve read that Clive Barker has written. Not all of them are necessarily straight horror and they are not listed in any particular order.

Coldheart Canyon
Everville
The Great and Secret Show
The Hellbound Heart

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