Barbie Wilde is the Renaissance Woman of the Horror World. She’s starred in the genre’s freakiest franchise as the elegant and terrifying Female Cenobite, written two gore-geous books about the dark side of the human mind, and now she’s working with celebrated director Chris Alexander to adapt her story “Blue Eyes” into a film later this year. In addition to her filmmaking efforts, she also enjoys a position as a sort of grand dame of horror fandom, graciously gracing horror conventions to meet, greet, and regal fans with warm and fascinating tales of her genre adventures.
I first met Barbie Wilde at a horror convention in 2014. One of the things that impressed me so much about her was her passion for her art. She talked to me and several other fans at length about the research that had gone into her novel The Venus Complex, a disturbing journey into the mind of a deranged killer. It’s easy to rest on your laurels and just let the fans come to you, but Barbie Wilde is tirelessly committed to spreading her own unique vision of horror, even (as you’ll read below) advocating for a more assertive role for women in the horror genre. Coining the aggressively lovely term “Horror Bitch,” she gives voice to the visceral thrills and bodily horrors both male and female fans crave.
Ms. Wilde was kind enough to talk to CineDump about her inspirations and influences. Read on to learn more about one of the most versatile and talented women working in horror today!
Pennie Sublime: What got you interested in horror movies?
Barbie Wilde: I’ve been a movie fanatic since I was a kid. I have very clear memories of watching films like The Birds, Psycho, The Haunting and The Innocents with my parents back in my misspent youth. My father and brother were keen sci-fi fans, so I also got to see films like the 1950s versions of The Thing From Another World, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and TV series like the original The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Night Gallery, which all made a big impression on me at an early age.
Being such a big movie fan, any major high profile release got my attention as an adult, such as The Exorcist, Carpenter’s Halloween, DePalma’s Carrie, Carpenter’s The Thing, Alien, etc. However, my world was truly rocked when I saw the first Hellraiser movie. Clive was already quite a star in the literary world and this movie really shifted things into a different gear. Crucial elements like two really strong female characters for one thing, and a new kind of monster, the Cenobites, were topped off with a powerful cocktail of sex, sensuality, and humor. Clive is really an inspiration to me as a writer, and I have to say that it was Hellraiser that changed the world of horror for me.
PS: How have you seen the place of women in horror change since you first became involved in the industry?
BW: Four of my all time favorite writers are women: Mary Shelley, Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood, so women have always had a place in horror as far as I’m concerned, however, with the advent of new directors and writer-directors like the Soska Sisters, Izzy Lee, Jovanka Vuckovic, Katherine Bigelow, Mary Harron, Anna Biller, and many more, we are becoming a much stronger presence in the genre.
However, the percentage of female directors in Hollywood is still a miserable 3%, so we have a lot of work to do to be noticed and channel our art, films and-or books out there. We have to become more aggressive in seeking ways and means to distribute our work to a wider audience. Of course, as soon as you become an aggressive, assertive woman, you’re considered a bit of a bitch. But if the label “Horror Bitch” doesn’t scare you, then wear it with pride!
PS: You're a prolific writer--what inspires your stories?
BW: A lot of my stories come from my dreams, which, luckily, I can remember in the morning. I have no idea why my nocturnal brain metamorphoses my daily life into such a horror fest at night, but I guess I should be grateful! Also, certain incidences from my childhood resonant in my stories: I just twist them into something horrific.
As far as my serial killer novel, The Venus Complex, is concerned, that was the product of an enormous fascination for psychopaths--truly wolves in human clothing-- and of course a hell of a lot of research.
By the way, one of my latest horror stories, “Blue Eyes”, which featured in an anthology called Great British Horror: Green and Pleasant Land, will soon be a feature length film directed by Chris Alexander (Blood for Irina, Queen of Blood, Female Werewolf, Blood Dynasty) with a script written by Chris and myself, starring electronic music legend, performance artist and actor Nivek Ogre (Skinny Puppy, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Queen of Blood)… stay tuned for further news about our Kickstarter Campaign!
PS: Why do you think the Hellraiser franchise has remained so popular?
BW: As I mentioned before, the Hellraiser movies --especially the first two-- contain Clive’s unbeatable combo of horror, sex, sensuality and humor. And, as monster creations go, the Cenobites are right up there with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s Monster and Stoker’s Dracula. They have become iconic in the world of horror.
It is a bit ironic though, as it was first felt by the producers that it would be Julia (that consummate diva of murderous desire played so brilliantly by Clare Higgins) who would become the recurrent character in the franchise, but it was Doug Bradley’s Pinhead who caught folk’s imagination. Another irony: in Clive’s novella The Hellbound Heart, the basis for the Hellraiser movie franchise, the Lead Cenobite --as the character was called in the book-- was female. I think it would have been amazing to see a Female Lead Cenobite, Kirsty and Julia in a three-way contest for supremacy in the movies, which is why I wrote a trilogy of Female Cenobite stories contained within my illustrated horror story collection, Voices of the Damned.
PS: What is your favorite horror book/movie of 2016?
BW: It has to be The Autopsy of Jane Doe directed by André Øvredal (Trollhunters). I loved this film. It had an extraordinary atmosphere and really fine acting from Brian Cox, Emile Hersch and Olwen Kelly.
I love Barbie Wilde, and if this interview didn’t win you over, do some soul-searching and check out some information about her latest, greatest projects:
Barbie’s “diary of a serial killer” novel, The Venus Complex (“Damaged people, ultraviolence, murder and explicit sex — what’s not to love about her work?” —Fangoria) is available as a paperback and Kindle on all online bookstores such as Amazon, etc.
Barbie’s full color, illustrated collection of short horror stories, Voices of the Damned, is also available as a trade hardback, a deluxe edition hardback, paperback and Kindle on all the Amazons and from SSTPublications.co.uk. (“…horrifically bloody, lascivious and wickedly shocking.” “If testosterone jumping erotica combined with heart racing fear is your bag of horror then this is just what you’re looking for.” —Scream Horror Magazine)
Barbie Wilde is set to star in The Offer, a horror film directed by Chris Griffiths and Gary Smart and written By Gary Smart, Adam Evans and Neil Morris. The premise is short, sweer, and devilishly simple: “7 strangers are invited to partake in a game to win £10,000,000. Unbeknown to them the game is to the death!” It also features Laurence Olivier Award-winning actor Kenneth Cranham (Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Layer Cake), Hellraiser alumni Simon Bamford and Nicholas Vince (Butterball and Chatterer, respectively), and Bruce Jones (Coronation Street, The Full Monty). With a special guest appearance by John Castle (RoboCop 3) and special make-up effects by Stuart Conran (Shaun of the Dead, Hellraiser, Braindead)”
One last thing… Ms. Wilde is also excited to be co-Executive producing a movie about a dangerous beauty. Promising that intoxicating mix of sex, horror, and fantasy that fans of Hellraiser fans crave, Blue Eyes will be hosting a Kickstarter Campaign later this year. So, stay tuned in to CineDump for developments!