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Clive Barker’s The Midnight Meat Train: Special Definitive Edition (Book)

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The Midnight Meat Train by Clive BarkerWritten by Clive Barker

Published by Dark Regions Press


“If you already have Books of Blood, you already have The Midnight Meat Train” – Wrong!

“If you’ve seen the movie, you don’t need this book” – Wrong!

True, almost a third of the book contains a reprint of the second story in the first of the Books of Blood, but this release of The Midnight Meat Train from Dark Regions Press is something new. I don’t just mean because it’s hardback, it feels good, and it smells new, although those things are true. The signed Limited Edition is better of course; it has glossy pages, the illustrations are in full colour and it has a dustjacket, which makes a difference when you’re reading a book. And it’s signed by Mr. Barker.

One criticism I have of the cheaper, unsigned edition aimed at the mass market is the cut of the meat, which has been too close to the bone. By that I mean the text on the back cover is too close to the edge, and the illustrations bleed past the edge, so some of it has been lost to the printer’s knife. In some cases, Clive’s signature has been decapitated. Having said that, this edition was significantly cheaper, and you would expect more from a signed Limited Edition copy at twice the price. And it’s still remarkable quality for the price.

Apart from the above, both editions have the same contents. I have to admit to feeling a little cheated by the lack of creativity or work that’s gone into this bag of assorted candies. Much of the words in the interviews, and many more besides, have already been spoken (and published) elsewhere.

Firstly, there is a 2014 introduction by Phil and Sarah Stokes, who are the experts on all things Clive Barker and have published pretty much anything and everything that has ever been said about Clive Barker and his workings. They know stuff that Clive himself doesn’t know. Their intro is brief and reveals nothing new, however.

Then, interspersed throughout are some Clive Barker illustrations; these are stories in themselves and look great in the LE colour pages. (Not so great in black and white, however). These have been published online and elsewhere, and in much greater quality.

Then comes the story itself, and this is much clearer and easier to read, at least compared to the Books of Blood editions I have. Nothing new here. I would have liked to see an accompanying narrative.

The foreword to the movie comes next, provided by Jeff Buhler, the writer of the screenplay. This was new to me.

The screenplay and some storyboards follow, and I have to confess I wish the type was a little easier to read, perhaps larger (showing my age maybe?). We really don’t need all that white space around the edges, nor a border around the storyboards, especially given my earlier criticism concerning the cut.

The cast and crew listing was a nice touch, but it is duplicated elsewhere. I found it a little hard on the eyes, and I’ll probably use the internet for this kind of reference material.

Finally comes the afterword from Barker himself, which makes for compelling reading if you haven’t heard his story about the inspiration for The Midnight Meat Train before. Unfortunately, it is mostly a repeat of information revealed in the introduction.

To summarise, this is approximately 110 pages of well-bound “stuff collected together.” It would have been improved by more storyboards and an analysis of the differences (The Grandfather scene?), some narrative, better production quality, fresh insights or interviews. Maybe some of Clive’s ideas for the trilogy, or more about the rejected scenes? I actually thought the Limited Edition might include the Blu-ray of the movie or an extras DVD.

If you are a completist and a collector of all things Clive Barker like me, grab a copy. The signed Limited Edition copies have all gone now (that’s why they were Limited Edition!). Otherwise? Go online for this information. I have ordered a copy of The Body Book from Dark Regions Press, which contains two stories at least, but if there are plans to release all 25 Books of Blood stories in this format, well, I will have to bail.

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