Pair’s new scare tactics

Midnight will tap Barker stories for horror pix

Novelist-director Clive Barker has partnered with producer Jorge Saralegui in the Midnight Picture Show, a venture meant to scare up two horror films per year.

Most will be based on the prolific author’s short stories published in the six volumes of “The Books of Blood,” or on his original ideas.

Lakeshore Entertainment has been set to finance “The Midnight Meat Train,” an adaptation of the Barker story about a Gotham-based photographer’s effort to track down “the subway butcher,” a search that leads to an unholy secret. The pic was adapted by Jeff Buhler and will be directed by Patrick Tatopoulos, a horror vet who has done extensive creature and production design work. Lions Gate will distribute and production will start in the fall.

Barker and Saralegui made an earlier alliance with Armada Pictures to finance “The Plague,” a Hal Masonberg/Teal Minton-scripted fright film that will be directed by Masonberg this summer. Pic concerns an apocalypse that causes kids to lapse into vegetative states, only to awaken years later bent on murdering their parents.

Barker and Saralegui have set Anthony DiBlasi, an exec at Barker’s Seraphim Films label, to adapt the Barker short “Pig Blood Blues,” and John Heffernan to draft “New York Resurrection,” from an original idea by Barker. They hope these pics will be made in 2006.

Next up will be the Barker short “Age of Desire,” scripted by Charles Canzoneri, along with “Revelation,” a pic that Lori Lakin is writing, based on her own idea.

The venture comes at a time when modest-budget horror pics, mostly remakes, continue to proliferate and prosper.

“We hope our advantage will come from my own body of work of really intense horror stories that are original,” Barker said. “We will not be reheating old films, freshening up old ideas. … Even forgetting the sequels we hope to make, I’ve got enough here for 20 movies of varying budget scales.”

Since this is the Barker who hatched the gory “Hellraiser” and “Candyman” franchises, the teenage PG-13 set shouldn’t expect him to cater to their lucrative demo.

“Jorge and I want to wind up with a library of pictures that will reflect my sensibilities, which are decidedly R rated,” Barker said. “In fact, the moment I make a PG-13 horror movie, you can take me out and shoot me. Our desire is to leave you feeling that we’re a little crazy.”

Pics will be exec produced by Seraphim’s Joe Daley and DiBlasi. Barker will polish every script. They will set up “Pig Blood Blues” and “New York Resurrection” when the scripts are ready later this year, and hope to form a long-term alliance with a financier that will permit them to own or partly control the film’s negative.

“We will build toward that goal, but first we have to prove ourselves in the marketplace,” Saralegui said.

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