The Terrifying Clive Barker ‘Godzilla’ Movie We’ll Never Get to See

Shin Godzilla
Toho Co., Ltd

The Godzilla franchise has undergone many makeovers throughout the years, ranging from kid-friendly silliness to existential horror. Toho Studios typically approaches its prized monster saga with an anthological mindset, ensuring that the films have standalone qualities that different creators can put their own spins on. That said, the studio often portrays the creature as a merciless force of undiluted terror, an element lost in the more popcorn-oriented American reboots. However, things could have been different if Clive Barker made the 1998 film that Roland Emmerich ultimately helmed.

Barker’s cinematic output isn’t for the faint-hearted. His three directorial features — Hellraiser, Nightbreed, and Lord of Illusions — are terrifying tales of demons, monsters, and magic that reflect the horrors of the written works on which they’re based. While Barker’s creative output is diverse and imaginative, he soars when he’s out to scare us. Therefore, one can assume that he’d have brought these sinister sensibilities to the Godzilla pantheon and unleashed an apocalyptic opus for the ages.

Little is known about Barker’s Godzilla treatment. However, there are enough bits of scattered information about it to spark our imaginations and make us long for what could have been. Sony purchased the rights to produce the film in 1992, and Barker was one of several writers and directors who met with executives in the following years to pitch ideas. It’s alleged Barker’s story would have taken place in New York City during the final days of 1999, but the idea was rejected for being too dark and apocalyptic.

Talk about a missed opportunity. Clive Barker’s Godzilla movie should have been made in the lead-up to the 21st century, as it would have honoured the franchise’s history of tapping into topical issues of the day. 

Toho Co., Ltd.

Godzilla movies have always reflected the anxieties of their times to some degree, and apocalyptic thoughts were on people’s minds leading into the year 2000. The “Y2K bug” theory posited that the internet would crash on New Year’s Eve, ending civilisation in the process. Powerplants were supposed to collapse. Hospitals wouldn’t have been able to function. Banks would close, triggering a financial meltdown. Amid all of this, mass riots would break out all over the world, turning people into primal savages. The end. Cheerio, humanity. 

Of course, the year 2000 also marked the second millennium since the birth of Jesus Christ. As such, religious hysteria and doomsayers’ warnings were all the rage at the time. As documented by The Washington Post, conspiracy theorists feared everything from singular world governments to the literal end of days coinciding with the turn of the century. Some proponents of the Y2K theory argued that God was mad at humanity for idolising technology, and he planned on punishing us for that. However, it seems that the big man upstairs realised that slow dial-up speeds and Windows 98 were punishment enough, leaving us to suffer in peace.

That said, fringe religious groups weren’t the only ones preaching Y2K fears. The United Nations set up the International Y2K Cooperation Center, funded by the World Bank, with the goal of bringing countries together to cope with the collapse. Elsewhere, the United States and Russia co-launched the Center for Year 2000 Strategic Stability to try and prevent accidental missile launches and nuclear catastrophes. I don’t know about you, but the world’s weapons systems crashing and unleashing atomic terror sounds like a great plot for a movie about a giant monster that’s fuelled by radioactive energy.

These real-world fears and Barker’s penchant for imaginative horror could have led to a truly scary Godzilla movie. Instead, Sony and Tri-Star moved ahead with Roland Emmerich’s mildly entertaining romp about a creature that bears more similarities to a dinosaur than the King of the Monsters. Hollywood has yet to produce a truly harrowing Godzilla movie en par with Toho’s scariest films, but at the least the Japanese studio continues to fill that niche. Still, Clive Barker’s Godzilla will go down in history as the one that got away.