Midnight Meat Train teaser posterIn what has to be the Comic-Con panel to beat for Most Entertaining of the Year, the cast and creators of Midnight Meat Train, led by ringmaster and horror maestro Clive Barker, presented an exclusive first look at what promises to be a truly terrifying cinematic ride.

Barker kicked off the panel discussion with what can only be described as a freewheeling introduction which set the tone for what was to be a no-holds-barred interaction between the cast and creators of the movie, and with the Comic-Con audience members. The candid exchange had both the folks on stage and the folks in the audience cracking up throughout the discussion.

Midnight Meat Train is based on the Barker story of the same name (a title which he confessed came to him after he mistakenly ate a plate full of "special" cookies) from his seminal Books of Blood collection. The movie is the English-language debut of Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura who flatly stated that his "mission was very simple: make something better than Hellraiser and Candyman." Strong words as those are unquestionably the finest films based on Barker's work to date. Barker, who just saw the film for the first time yesterday says he was "blown away...it is a dark, dark movie. You won't find any entertaining horror here. This is the real thing." Barker –who is not one for idle hyperbole– went on to say that this is the best adaptation of any of his work...including the movies he himself wrote and directed. Which pronouncement makes this longtime admirer practically giddy with anticipation.

That anticipation was only heightened as the Comic-Con audience was treated to the world premiere of the film's trailer, which Barker introduced by saying "nobody has seen this." How was it? Well, if the trailer is any indication, and it certainly sounds as if that is indeed the case, Midnight Meat Train is going to be a new horror classic ... it looks like the stuff of which nightmares are made, and that is a compliment of the highest order.

It may also be the stuff of which nausea is made. (And that, too, is meant as a compliment.) Leslie Bibb, the luminous leading lady of the piece admitted that she's not generally a fan of horror movies, and that she "threw up in [her] mouth" during filming ... and the actress threatens (promises?) that audience members will likely do the same.

Vinnie Jones, who plays the villain Mahogany, looks to have found his most disturbing role to date, which is saying something given the hard guys he's played in the films of Guy Ritchie. Jones' performance was so fearsome that Bradley Cooper, who plays the movie's hero, admitted with a combination of embarrassment and glee to having genuinely feared for his safety during the filming of one scene opposite the menacing Jones.

All of which has me fervently hoping that we'll see Midnight Meat Train hit theaters sometime sooner than Barker's estimated release date of Spring 2008.