Horror icon Barbie Wilde may be best known as the Female Cenobite in Clive Barker’s classic cult film Hellbound: Hellraiser II but this Canadian born multi-dimensional artist has performed in cabaret in Bangkok, Thailand, robotically danced in the Bollywood blockbuster, Janbazz, played a vicious mugger in the vigilante thriller Death Wish 3 and appeared as a drummer for an electronica band in the so-called “Holy Grail of unfinished and unreleased 80’s horror” Grizzly II: The Predator, a.k.a, Grizzly II: The Concert, with a then unknown George Clooney. She was a founder member of the mime/dance/music group, SHOCK, that toured alongside the likes of Depeche Mode. As a journalist, Barbie has interviewed Iggy Pop, John Lydon (AKA the Sex Pistol’s Johnny Rotten),Nicolas Cage and Hugh Grant.
In 2009, Barbie contributed a well-received short story, entitled ‘Sister Cilice’, to the Hellbound Hearts Anthology. The stories in Hellbound Hearts were based on Clive Barker’s mythology from his novella The Hellbound Heart, the basis for the Hellraiser film franchise.
From 2011 to 2014, Barbie wrote seven more short stories from various publications: ‘U for Uranophobia’ for Phobophobia, ‘American Mutant: Hands of Dominion’ for Mutation Nation, ‘Polyp’ for The Mammoth Book of Body Horror (reprinted for The Unspoken anthology), ‘A is for Alpdruck’ for Demonologia Biblica, ‘Z is for Zulu Zombies’ for Bestiarum Vocabulum (reprinted in Gorezone #29), ‘The Cilicium Pandoric’ for Gorezone #30 and ‘Botophobia’ for Phobophobias.
Barbie’s first dark crime novel, The Venus Complex, a fictionalized diary of a serial killer, was published by Comet Press at the end of 2012. Fangoria, raved calling Wilde “one of the finest purveyors of erotically charged horror around.” Rue Morgue called The Venus Complex “a transgressive tale that would make Patrick Bateman blush.”
Currently Barbie is co-writing the book for a musical drama with composer-lyricist Georg Kajanus and screenwriter-playwright Roberto Trippini called Sailor and is also working with writer and designer Eric Gross on a project called The Cilicium Pandoric, which has been sanctioned by writer-director-artist and Hellraiser creator Clive Barker.
Barbie will soon be returning to acting in a featured role in the horror movie,Bad Medicine, written by Amazon #1 horror author Dave Jeffery and helmed by Bram Stoker award-winning director, James Hart.
A Girl’s Guide To Horror’s Felicia Mancini sits down with our favorite Barbie to talk about all things horror…
FM: What does it mean to be considered a horror icon for your role in H2?
BW: Of course, it’s wonderful to be considered an icon of horror, but it was a bit of a surprise initially. When I first played the role of the Female Cenobite in Hellbound: Hellraiser II back in 1988, the first Hellraiser movie was still considered a cult British horror film, although it did do quite well at the box office. The franchise lay far in the future. It was only when I attended my first horror convention in the States decades later that I realized a whole new generation had been introduced to the Hellraiser films via TV outlets like the Horror Channel and had really responded to the deliciously infernal mythology that Clive Barker had created.
FM: What do you think it takes to be an iconic female character in horror?
BW: There are so many iconic female characters who are so different, it’s hard to make one template. I think being tough-minded and having great survivor instincts is key (Sigourney Weaver in Alien or Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween). However, if you look at another iconic figure from Hellraiser, Julia, then we find a different kind of female horror icon: obsessive, frightening, powerful, murderous and yet at the same time, oh-so feminine.
FM: How do you see the progression of women in the horror industry now vs when the film was shot?
BW: Well, there certainly appears to be a hell of a lot more women writers and directors now than back in 1988, as least as far as I know. And I can’t be thrilled enough to see folks like the Soska Sisters, Jovanka Vulkovic, Jessica Cameron, Izzy Lee, Jill Sixx, Chelsey Burdon, Lisa Ovies, Mary Harron, Kathryn Bigelow and others not only directing horror, but moving into other genres as well. However, make no mistake, things are still tough out there for women to get the recognition and budgets that they want.
FM: What inspired you to try your hand at writing horror and how have your fans responded to the novels?
BW: I’ve always been interested in writing, even when I was a kid. When “acting left me behind”, as thespians say, it seemed a natural progression to move into writing. My first love has always been psychological crime, so my debut novel, The Venus Complex, was a “real life” horror story of an art history professor turned serial killer, told from the male viewpoint.
My first horror short story was coaxed from me by my friend, the award-winning horror and fantasy author, Paul Kane, who had interviewed me for his excellent book, The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy. He subsequently approached me and asked me to submit a story for the anthology, Hellbound Hearts, which he was editing with his wife, Marie O’Regan. All the stories were to be based on Clive Barker’s mythology that he created in his novella, The Hellbound Heart, which is the basis for the Hellraiser film franchise. Paul suggested that I write a story from the perspective of a Female Cenobite, so I wrote “Sister Cilice”. (“Sister Cilice” and two sequels: “The Cilicium Pandoric” and “The Cilicium Rebellion”, appear in my short horror story collection, Voices of the Damned.)
FM: Your latest work ‘Voices of the Damned has been hailed as brilliant and “perverse and perfect” by A Girl’s Guide to Horror and many other reviewers including Fangoria Magazine. How does it feel about the tremendously positive response and did you expect it?
BW: I’m absolutely thrilled that not only did Fangoria, Scream Horror UK and other horror magazines and websites like the book, but it was also given a “Starred Review” by the venerable Publishers Weekly. (PW don’t normally review books published by independent publishers.)
I didn’t really know what to expect. But Voices of the Damned was something that I wanted to do so passionately that I just hoped that it would readers would respond to it. It contains not only my work, but every story is introduced by a gorgeous full color artwork or illustration from top artists in the horror genre, including Clive Barker (who also contributed the cover art), Nick Percival, Daniele Serra, Ben Baldwin, Vincent Sammy, Tara Bush, Steve McGinnis and Eric Gross. And the design of the book by my publisher, Paul Fry of SST Publications is stunning.
FM: What is your favorite scary movie?
BW: Arg! It’s too difficult to pick just one. I guess Hellraiser has to be top of the list, as Clive created a new kind of monster (the Cenobites) as well as featuring some pretty scary human monsters like Frank and Julia. I love old 1950s-60s black & white horror like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Thing From Another World (1951), The Haunting (1963) and The Innocents (1961). Serial killer horror like Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), Halloween (1978), American Psycho (2000) and Se7en (1995). Sci-fi horror like Alien (1979) and Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). Other horror films that I’ve liked are The Ring (2002), Audition (1999), American Mary (2012) and Sinister (2012).
FM: Tips for aspiring horror writers?
BW: One of my favorite quotes from the film GalaxyQuest is: “Never give up. Never surrender.” I can’t think of any better advice to give to aspiring writers, directors and actors.
FM: With Canada, specifically cities in Ontario such as Hamilton being hailed as Hollywood North for all of the films being shot here locally both independent and blockbusters – what do you think this will mean for Canadian film and actors – or how do you feel about it as a Canadian actor?
BW: Canada has frequently “stood in” for American cities like New York (Moonstruck was shot in Toronto) and Seattle (Stake-out in Vancouver), but I love the fact that this phenomena has been growing over the years. (Of course, much of the X Files TV series was also shot in and around Vancouver.) It’s giving enormous opportunities not only to actors, but to skilled tech folks as well. It’s a brilliant development and long may it flourish!
FM: You have created some pretty rad music too on various albums and projects, what do you love most about creating music and can we expect any upcoming projects?
BW: My first entry into the music business was back in the 80s with my dance-mime-music group Shock. We supported pop icons like Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, etc. We were signed to RCA and release two singles: “Angel Face” and “Dynamo Beat”. I went solo for a while and worked with Richard James Burgess (the producer of Spandau Ballet’s first two albums) and his partner from the group Landscape, John L. Walters. We wrote songs together and shot some videos, but sadly I wasn’t able to get a recording contract, so I went back to acting.
Any creation is an intensely personal journey and with that comes great satisfaction, especially if you manage to do something that comes close to your original vision. Although I wasn’t particularly successful in the music biz, I’m very happy with the songs that I wrote and performed.
FM: What is it about electronic music and horror films that just work and is instant gold?!
BW: Who can forget the first time they watched Halloween and heard John Carpenter’s incredibly minimal, yet haunting score?! I think it’s because there is something inherently eerie about electronic music. It’s part of its DNA.
And it’s fantastic that filmmakers like Chris Alexander (Blood for Irina, Queen of Blood, Female Vampire) are also continuing Carpenter’s tradition of not only creating the movie, but scoring it in a beautifully atmospheric way as well.
FM: What can you tell us about your upcoming projects that we can look forward to?
BW: I’m in the midst of writing the screenplay to one of my short stories, “Zulu Zombies”. Another short story, “Valeska”, started out as a full length novel, so I’ve gone back to developing that as well. More short stories to come too!
FM: What is it about horror fandom you love/loathe most?
BW: There isn’t anything that I loathe about horror fandom. All the fans that I’ve met at conventions have been so respectful and seem to honestly adore the Hellraiser films. I love talking to fans at conventions and it does give me the opportunity to tell them about my more recent work as a writer.
FM: What was the last movie that managed to scare you?
BW: Because there’s so much horror on my mind through my writing, I don’t have a chance to watch as many horror movies as I’d like. However, as far as TV is concerned, I adore the Penny Dreadful series. It’s had some really harrowing moments in it. (And I’m thrilled that Eva Green’s extraordinary performance as Vanessa Ives was finally acknowledged with a Best Actress Golden Globe nomination in 2016.) And Hannibal as well, of course!