Interview with Barbie Wilde – Dennis Villelmi

 

Dennis Villelmi: Welcome to The Bees Are Dead, Miss Wilde, or may we call you Barbie?  Words can’t convey how honored we are to have you spend a few moments with us here by the edge of dystopia.

So here it is Halloween ’16, and out of curiosity, how is the Festival of Samhain observed at the House of Wilde?

Barbie Wilde: Probably some nice wine and delicious snacks, accompanied by one of my favorite scary movies. I actually haven’t seen the original ‘Halloween’ for a while, so that might be my Samhain viewing this year.

DV: What classics of horror, both cinematic and literary, rank foremost on your list?

BW: Favorite horror cinema: The Horror of Dracula (1958), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Haunting (1963), The Innocents (1961), Psycho (1960), Don’t Look Now (1973). Alien body horror and-or sci-fi horror such as The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Invaders From Mars (1953), The Thing From Another World (1951), Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), Alien (1979) and Under the Skin (2013). Audition (1999), The Ring (2002), Shutter Island (2010) and American Mary (2012) are also brilliant. And of course, Hellraiser (1986).

Books: Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Stand and The Shining by Stephen King. Favorite writers: Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr Ripley, etc.), Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell and Paul Kane. Favorite crime writers are Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.

DV: As varied as your own career has been, you of course are perhaps best known as the Female Cenobite in “Hellbound Hellraiser II;” had you any idea at the time that that role would generate such a large portion of your fanbase?

BW: At the time of filming the sequel to Hellraiser, the franchise seemed to be a local UK phenomena, so I really didn’t have any idea how popular the films had become until I was invited to an American horror convention in 2005 and met a lot of fans who loved the films. However, when I saw the first Hellraiser film back in 1986, I knew that Clive had done something pretty unusual and unprecedented: he’d created a new kind of monster, the Cenobites. Monsters that could eloquently articulate their condition. Also, the human monsters in the film (Julia and Frank) were pretty scary as well.

DV: How did you land the role?

BW: I was just asked to attend an audition. Perhaps it’s because I had a similar body shape and size to the first Female Cenobite, Grace Kirby. Perhaps it was because I had classical mime training. (I know that Clive had always been very interested in mime.) I had a short chat with Tony Randel, the director, and got the job.

5 Cenobite with Knife
Barbie Wilde as Female Cenobite

 

DV: Had you read Clive Barker prior to being cast in “Hellbound?”

BW: No I hadn’t, but I certainly had heard of him. That’s why I went to see the first Hellraiser film. There was a tremendous buzz about the movie at the time. I read The Hellbound Heart to prepare for the role and I fell in love with Clive’s unique writing style. It’s so muscular, imaginative, funny and sexy.

DV: Here it is twenty-nine years since the film’s initial release, how often do The Infernal Fab Four reunite these days?

BW: We’re looking forward to celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the first Hellraiser movie in 2017. We meet quite often at horror conventions and it’s always fabulous seeing my “Cenobite Chums” again.

DV: Since then, you’ve become a horror author in your own right: short stories, one of which- “A Is For Alpdrücke”- is a favorite of mine, and, of course, your much acclaimed “The Venus Complex.”  It’s a book I certainly have been taken by; but for those who still haven’t become acquainted with it, tell us something about it, and what sets it apart from other stories about serial killers.

BW: ‘The Venus Complex’ is my exploration of what makes a serial killer tick. It’s written from the male perspective in journal form, so you really get into the head of my lead character, Art History Professor Michael Friday. I think that what sets it apart was delving into the sexual thoughts of someone who makes a decision to commit the ultimate transgression of killing someone for their own pleasure. I’d read so many novels about serial killers and it always seemed to be about the violence, rather than what their sexual fantasies must be. And of course, the big question: why? I wanted to write a whydunnit, not a whodunnit.

3 BW Holding book 2
The Venus Complex cover art by Daniele Serra

 

DV: Do you feel that out of all genres horror is the most cathartic to work within?

BW: In many ways, yes, although I’ve always classed The Venus Complex more as dark crime than horror. I suppose there is a wonderful sense of freedom to writing horror. Your imagination can really run wild and free.

DV: Following the book’s release, it unfortunately suffered a ban courtesy of the Edmonton Public Library in your native Canada.  Do you feel that censorship only does a disservice to society, whatever the subject?

BW: I think that people should be allowed to make the choice for themselves, rather than have a nanny state (or a library) dictate to them what they should or shouldn’t be reading or viewing. However, there are certain “hot button” issues like “hate speech” that do raise concerns.

Basically, the library refused to stock the book because it hadn’t been reviewed by the “right” publications, such as Publisher’s Weekly. Reviews from horror magazines like Rue Morgue and Fangoria didn’t count. It’s sad really, because I’m Canadian and I’m a woman and there aren’t that many female horror writers out there, so you’d think that the library would have shown a bit more interest in my work and support. They sent me a list of their so-called “edgy” writers and they were all men!

Unfortunately independent publishers sometimes don’t have the clout to get the big boys to review their books. Luckily, my latest book, a full color, illustrated collection of short horror stories called Voices of the Damned (published by SST Publications) did get a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, which is really unusual for an independent publisher to achieve. It put the book up a notch as far as recognition is concerned. Each story in Voices of the Damned is accompanied by an artwork or illustration by some of the top artists in the horror genre, such as Clive Barker, Nick Percival, Daniele Serra, Ben Baldwin, Vincent Sammy, Tara Bush, Steve McGinnis, Eric Gross. There are three Female Cenobite stories in the book that show the narrative arc of a sex-starved nun called Sister Veronica, who metamorphoses into the Cenobite Sister Cilice.

7 Voices of the Damned postcard
Cover art by Clive Barker

 

DV: In “The Venus Complex” you coin the very fetching phrase, “world rage.”  Given the today’s staple reports about ISIS, a resurgent Russia, the degeneration of political discourse, etc., would you argue that this is [Michael] “Friday’s Time?”  In other words, are we on the cusp of a bona fide dystopia?

BW: It certainly seems like it, doesn’t it? When I was writing the book, I wondered how readers would take to Michael’s misanthropic rants about the state of the world, but a lot of people seem to agree with him! (I’m not sure if that’s worrying or not.) But you only have to see what happened in the run-up and aftermath to the UK’s Brexit referendum and what’s happening now in America with the lack of civility, the frustrated anger of the common man at the status quo and the blatant fear-mongering of the far right, to see that we are teetering on the edge of something. And that something may lead us down a very dark path.

I put a quote from one of Michael’s rants up on Facebook after Brexit, because it seemed very apt:

            “Soon we will be back to the system of the Middle Ages, where every city is a sovereign state and the no man’s land in between is ruled by  a robber baron of the week.
            “R
efugees streaming out of the world’s poorer countries will be in the same boat that they are in now, but worse.  It will be just like that film, ‘The Masque of the Red Death’. All the rich and decadent people will be partying up in the castle with Vincent Price, while the hoi polloi scrabble around for the odd potato in the barren fields outside.  But the Red Death is around the corner for them all. There is no escape from the deadly viruses that plague mankind: envy, malice, blood-lust, ignorance, religion, patriotism and stupidity.     

            “What people don’t seem to realize is that true freedom means having to use your brain.  To take responsibility for yourself and your actions and not blame others for your troubles.  To forget the past and think only of the future.” (©2012 Barbie Wilde, Published by Comet Press.)

2 BW Holding Book
The Venus Complex cover art by Daniele Serra


DV:
If you were commissioned by some baleful deity (Cthulhu, or more appropriately, Leviathan) to author the end of the world, what horrors would we experience according to “The Revelation of Barbie?”

BW: Well, lots of my trademark gore and violence and humor, I suppose. Along with a healthy dose of sex, of course! And maybe a few demons thrown in for good measure. I’ve always been intrigued by the “End Times” and it would be great to write a “Devil’s Perspective” of the event…

DV: So what are you working on presently that we can look forward to?

BW: I’m writing a couple of film projects, along with a new short story. And 2017 will see my return to acting as well.

DV: Before we go, I gotta ask, “Grizzly II: The Predator”- lost to the ages, or do you still hope that it’ll one day rise from the depths to take its rightful place among horror sequels?

BW: Well, they’ll have to find a compliant grizzly bear to shoot a bunch of scenes, since all the bear scenes were never filmed because they couldn’t get the fancy mechanical bear to work.

There are some scenes up on Youtube and I bought a DVD of the film at a convention once. (They edited in bear scenes from the first Grizzly movie to complete it.) It would be fun to see a completed version, just for all those big stars of the future that were disposable “Red Shirts” in the movie, like George Clooney, Charlie Sheen and Laura Dern. (They were all killed in the first half hour, I believe.)

6 Grizzly

DV: Barbie, it has indeed been a real treat this Hallows’ Eve having you visit with B.A.D.  Hopefully, we’ll meet again.

BW: Thank you! If you want to find out more about my books and convention appearances, please follow me on
Twitter: @barbiewilde
Facebook: www.facebook.com/barbie.wilde
or  www.facebook.com/BarbieWildeAuthorActress
or  www.barbiewilde.com

4 Collage of VC VotD 3 BWs
Voices of the Damned cover art by Clive Barker, centre photo of BW by Robin Chaphekar, The Venus Complex cover art by Daniele Serra

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