Tortured Souls: According to Variety, Clive Barker is returning to the director's chair after an eight-year absence, signing to helm Universal's horror film Tortured Souls. Barker last directed 1995 feature Lord of Illusions, a Scott Bakula starrer released by MGM.

Tortured Souls is Barker's own line of action figures, which debuted at the International Toy Fair in Gotham in February 2001. Released in limited numbers last July by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane's McFarlane Toys, the monster figures promptly sold out.

Each of the six grisly Tortured Souls - Talisac, Lucidique, Scythe-Meister, Agonistes, Mongroid and Venal Anatomica - was sold with a chapter of an original Barker-penned storyline. The combined chapters form a novella outlining the Souls' origin.

For the big screen adaptation, the storyline centers on a man who decides he wants to be rid of his wife in favor of a more interesting life. The man "exchanges" his wife for a demon goddess from another world, throwing her into a shadowy world of monsters - one from which she must escape and return to his everyday world to rescue their child and vanquish the demon. McFarlane Toys will consult on the script and produce as well.

Brian B.