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SYFY WIRE Clive Barker

Books of Blood NYCC panel on delivering emotional gore - in classic Clive Barker style

By Vanessa Armstrong
Books of Blood Anna Friel

Clive Barker fans screamed for joy when Hulu announced that it was releasing a film, Books of Blood, based on a series of short stories Barker published in the 1980s. The movie, which dropped on the streaming platform Oct. 7, revolves around three blood-filled stories that intermingle with each other in proper horrific fashion.

After a screening of the Hulu movie at New York Comic Con Metaverse on Thursday, Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting moderated a panel with director Brannon Braga as well as cast members Britt Robertson (Jenna), Rafi Gavron (Simon), Anna Friel (Mary), Freda Foh Shen (Ellie), and Yul Vazquez (Bennett).

Navarro kicked off the panel by asking Braga about working with Barker to decide what stories to use in the film.

“The process of adapting Clive’s work began with sitting down with Clive himself,” Braga explained. “Deciding which stories to do — he was more interested in talking about new stories than the stories in the books, and I was a little more interested in the books because I was such a fan. And I realized from his perspective, he wrote those stories a long time ago; he had Books of Blood stories that he hadn’t written yet. So we decided to do a mix, where we took ‘The Book of Blood,’ which is the very first story in the very first volume, which is being re-released any day now as a tie-in to this movie. And we took that as the grounding story…and then we had two other stories that were original ideas that we came up with.”

After a clip from the foundational story between Mary (Anna Friel) and Simon (Rafi Gavron), Navarro talked about how Books of Blood had plenty of gore in it, but also explored the emotional makeup of its characters. It was the complexity and depth of these characters as well as the writing that attracted some of the actors to the project.

“I don’t see it as a horror movie, personally,” Gavron said, when asked what drew him to the horror project. “What drew me to it was that it was a drama with supernatural aspects, and Brannon’s writing...I still, when watching it, just think of it as a drama.”

Braga agreed that Barker, although best known for the gore and horror for works like Hellraiser, wrote many stories that were completely original as well as completely different. 

As for the other two stories, they each have their own psychological trappings. And while the supernatural elements are certainly present in Books of Blood, the panel acknowledged that a lot of the horror in the film also comes from more mundane, human sources.

Another thing the three stories share are scenes that will give people nightmares, something that the actors and director agreed were scary moments to bring to life.

“It’s scary for me too,” Braga admitted at the end of the panel. “We’re all diving into this new thing together and I do really admire these actors, because each story requires them to do something disturbing or wacky or counterintuitive. I really appreciate you guys.”

Fans of Barker will likely appreciate the cast too, so go watch Books of Blood, available now on Hulu.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of New York Comic Con Metaverse 2020.