in the fleshClive Barker
Pocket Books
1988

In the depths of an abandoned steam bath, strangely beautiful women seduce two businessmen into a ritual of macabre sexuality; in a Greek asylum, wise men race frogs to decide the fate of the world; a petty convict’s cellmate reveals to him the gruesome birth of evil; a young woman’s slum research leads her into the hook-handed grip of The Candyman, a vicious supernatural killer.

In The Flesh is, as you may have guessed if you’ve already read my review for The Inhuman Condition (and if you haven’t, what’s wrong with you?), the American version of Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood volume 5.  And like its Volume 4 counterpart, In The Flesh is named after one of the stories included in here, instead of going by the Books Of Blood series name.  Matter of fact, there’s no mention of the Books Of Blood on the inside cover credits, like it was in The Inhuman Condition, just the original publication date, and the Pocket Books publication date and all that other fun legal stuff.  Fortunately, we live in an age where that kind of information is readily available.  But again, I digress.

The four stories collected here are, once again and I hate to sound like I’m just repeating myself, vintage Clive Barker.  What can I say?  The guy has an incredible imagination, and has the ability to shock and disgust me as well as entertain and amuse.  And you’re reading this from a very jaded long-time reader of the dark horror fantasy genre.  Of course, In The Flesh / Books Of Blood vol. 5 is noted for containing the short story “The Forbidden”, which the movie The Candyman is based on.  Um, I should actually say “loosely based on”, as there are deviations from the short story to the film.  But yeah, that’s where the movie came from.  Kinda like the short story better after having read it, at it definitely had that claustrophobic vibe going on.  Overall, In The Flesh is another fine collection from Clive Barker, and I’m glad I snagged this at the ½ Price Books along with the other entry in the Books Of Blood.

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