T. R. Rak
- Published on Amazon.com
You don't have to be a fan of Great Britain's "Queen of Horror," Clive Barker, to appreciate his over-the-top originality, his meta-bizarre uniqueness and plu-ecumenical, sometimes "fun house of mirrors," yet unceasingly androgynous, "ongoing spiritual conversation" with Horror, which crosses all barriers and continuously reinvents the genre, WITHOUT (I might add) "tearing the sacred, magick envelope," of Horror as Art - written large, omnivorously literate, sometimes lavishly lugubrious, but always penned in the vivacious and enthusiastic, well-researched style and spirit of many of the other English phantasmagoric greats including, most notably - Neil Gaiman, (and even, for the younger set perhaps, though by no means exclusively - J.K. Rowling) as well as numerous other brilliant inventors of the spell-binding, enchantment-inducing and caliginous lore, all hailing from "The Spectered Isle."
As America's own "King of Horror" Mr. Stephen King himself aptly put it this way some years ago hence, "I have seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker." Indeed. That future is still extant: Whenever and wherever Barker "adheres to his home roots," namely - the neogothic fiction which launched a thousand shrieks, beginning with his "Books of Blood Volumes I, II & III," to "Hellbound Heart," "The Damnation Game," "Cabal," "Weaveworld," "In the Flesh" and ... definitely Barker's most recent and salivating offering to his still-loyal horror base to date - "Mister B. Gone;" namely barely a handful of his vast oeuvre of the occult and outlandishly grisly albeit engrossing - Barker is *ON* HIS (DAMNATION) GAME!!!
For when we are treated to Barker's ubiquitously anomalous "art of darkness," literally and literarily TREATED, to his "treasures from the blackest forests conceivable," that of the limitless, tenebrous imagination of the GIFTED GOTH GOD or GODDESS, even diehard cynics, and downright horror-bashers for that matter amongst us, are left awed and speechless with wonder, curiosity and marveled quizzicality. (Where DOES Barker get his ideas?) But more apropos to the point, when converted to the silver screen, a legion of Barker's works have achieved noteworthy transmutation including, but scarcely limited to, such "desserts of delicious deviltry" as - the "Hellraiser" series (particularly "Hellraiser II"); "Nightbreed" (with its truly, INCREDIBLY INDELIBLE star turn and singularly outstanding performance by that phenomenally-gifted and multi-faceted director [here actor] Mr. David Cronenberg, cast as the Epitome of Evil Incarnate - "The Nefarious Doctor Decker" - and scene stealer extraordinaire, thereby elevating "Nightbreed" to Kubrickian cinematic levels transcending the original novel itself - a rarest of feats!); to "Lord of Illusions" (an oft overlooked, sui generis masterpiece of the macabre); and now ... "Saint Sinner," with Greg Serrano in the starring role as a "lascivi puer," "religiously tormented" monk Tomas Alcala sent from the past by "The Wheel of Time" from his 19th century monastery, in order to: A. Redeem himself for the monstrous murder of his brother Rafael; and B. Save the modern world (circa 21tst century) by ridding it of two archetypal, sexually ambiguous "succubae," known by their ancient names of Munkar and Nakir - "ravenous lions of the bodies and souls of mankind."
The sole mystery to me is why "Saint Sinner" was never released to the wider audience which it clearly deserves, as a well-directed, perfectly suitable piece of Horror Art intended for a wider-reach Theater-based spectatorship. The fact that "Sinner" was relegated to mere television speaks volumes for the lack of respect which the horror genre has repeatedly been subjected to, not unlike discriminations of all variations and faces which still exist all over the globe, even today. Reality, to be certain, is more horrific than fiction, and has always remained thus. Which is why good horror fiction (in all its media) retains thrall upon the disaffected masses of the literate and the imaginative alike. And which is likewise the reason this movie earns FIVE STARS! Not so much for "perfection," because as any wise person knows, "the perfect is the enemy of the good," but because "Saint Sinner" is a labor of love, if such terminology is permissible for a genre so reviled by the "educated elite amongst the academy of 'motion picture mavens.'" But what the academy doesn't know hurts all of us.
The central thematic thrust of "Saint Sinner" is, as most horror fiction promotes, beguiling in its simplicity and ethics: Be good, faithful, honest and true; or be feast for the Beast. For nothing is more powerfully the "morality play" than an effective horror yarn. As Tomas hears and repeats often (especially towards the end of the movie), "If [we] knew what [we] were, [we] would NOT be saints." Therefore arrogance and the arch sin of overweening pride are negated, in order that victory over Evil is not only possible, but in the end, achieved.
So the story is the classic "hero's journey" retold, as the young monk transmogrifies from a sex-obsessed, materialistic man-boy of hedonism (he's even shown, at the beginning of the film, half-naked, reclining by a placid stream, munching desultorily upon "a fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil," while ogling the exposed bosoms of a young maiden washing her clothes by the stream's edge); this self-absorbed, narcissistic "devil-may-care passion-misplaced" Tomas, whose original life-mantra is "life is to be lived;" AHA! - and then he undergoes, often painfully but necessarily so, a radical series of humiliating trials and hardships as he fumbles about fecklessly in a "brazen new world," about whose vocabulary and technology Tomas is often (hilariously) clueless (courtesy of forward time travel on the order of two centuries, from the rural, idyllic Washington countryside to modern-day downtown Seattle); followed by a 180-degree shift in his soul's compass (with crucial support from an empathic, female police officer [well-acted by the talented and plausible Gina Rivera as Detective Rachel Dressler]): Tomas is transformed from raw, naive, self-obsessed "monk manque" (chakras 1 thru 3), by means of DIVINE NURTURE (or "The Spiritual School of Hard Knocks" as it were), to a SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER education (chakras 4, at the level of the HEART, and above - ultimately BEYOND MIND ITSELF - *TO* *GOD*): Herein at the very last, in the penultimate frames of the film, face to face with Indomitable Evil, unable for most of the movie to wield the Dagger of Saint Nicodemus, whose holiest of steel blades is the sole weapon (that can ONLY be wielded by a saint) which can imprison the demons again (which Tomas unleashed at the start, and in so doing precipitated his brother Rafael's destruction at the hands of Munkar and Nakir) and thus thwart their seductive and wholly-annihilative evil - Tomas LEARNS that his plan is not that of his own selfish desires anymore, but that of a FATHOMLESSLY DEEPER calling: God's Will. Which Tomas FINALLY accepts via his own FREE will, and in so doing, saves not only himself, but rescues the entire world. Which is not to say that Tomas does not risk his very life in this soul-saving, world-rescuing ordeal, but to say too much here would be to spoil the experience for you, Gentle Viewer. So please check out "Saint Sinner" for yourself. As the movie itself often repeats (though spoken through the sardonic voices of the she-male forces of damnation): "Your satisfaction is guaranteed."