SCREENWRITER TALKS BARKER?S ABARAT MOVIE
Fango spoke with John Harrison, who began as George Romero?s composer on films like CREEPSHOW and became a director with TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE and the Sci Fi Channel?s DUNE miniseries, and is just wrapping up scripting on the much-awaited film version of Clive Barker?s ABARAT books. 'I co-wrote a movie for Disney called DINOSAUR several years ago, and they had bought Clive?s four ABARAT books and called me to ask if I?d be interested in adapting them,' Harrison says of the author?s lavishly illustrated dark-fantasy tomes. 'I had known Clive from some previous encounters?near-misses, things we didn?t get to do together?and I was thrilled, because I?ve been to his house and I?ve seen his fantastic ABARAT paintings. It?s phenomenal, because he actually painted the story before he wrote it?his house is filled with canvases, some the size of a whole wall. So I said of course, I?d love to do that.'
The ABARAT saga follows a girl named Candy Quackenbush through the titular mystical realm, which is being threatened by the Lord of Midnight, Christopher Carrion. 'We?re taking the first two books [ABARAT and DAYS OF MAGIC, NIGHTS OF WAR] and adapting them into one movie,' Harrison reveals. 'The screenplay will go in in the next couple of weeks, and we?ll see what happens. I don?t know what the publication schedule is for Clive?s next two books in the series, but I hope Disney will go forward quickly with the film. It?s got incredible, fantastical characters and a really complex, dark story. He has some wonderfully frightening characters in ABARAT?these chimeras of all different shapes and sizes?and Christopher Carrion is a truly scary bad guy.'
And even though the movie will be made by Disney, Harrison is determined to bring these characters to life with their fearsome qualities undiluted. 'We?re obviously trying to design the movie for a broad audience,' he notes, 'but I?m hoping that the darker aspects won?t get completely removed. I have great faith in the whole grim-fairy-tale attitude about what these stories can be, and I believe that children can handle darker stories than we give them credit for. I hope that the success of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, which didn?t pull any punches in terms of its horrific elements, and the last HARRY POTTER movie will encourage the studio not to sanitize Clive?s material.'
Courtesy of Fangoria