Director – Clive Barker
Cast – Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O’Connor, Daniel von Bargen, Famke Janssen, Barry Del Sherman, Joseph Latimore, Sheila Tousey, Susan Traylor, Ashley Tesoro, J. Trevor Edmond
Release Year – 1995
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I had always heard bad things about Lord of Illusions, Clive Barker’s last director effort (as of now), and I suppose if you compare this flick to Hellraiser and Nightbreed it does not compare. However, on its own I found Lord of Illusions to be an enjoyable experience with a twisted tale from the mind of Clive Barker, and his usual superb and macabre direction.
When NY private investigator Harry D’Amour(Scott Bakula) takes a routine job in LA, he finds himself in the thralls of a bitter war between a powerful leader’s cult and the leader’s former protégé, Philip Swann(Kevin J. O’Connor; Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane, Van Helsing, The Mummy), who now uses his magic as an entertainer after aiding in the killing of the cult’s leader 13 years prior. When the cult achieves the necessary elements to bring back their leader, Nix(Daniel von Bargen), from the dead, Harry is forced to take action in a realm that he has no experience in, and will soon come face to face with the evils behind true magic.
It is not often that we are given horror films that focus or deal with magic, so I found it cool that Barker gave us this story that deals with the two different forms of magic, and heavily on the darker form. I enjoyed the idea of a private investigator coming across some insane horror that he never saw coming, and it reminded me heavily of Lovecraft’s works that often involve investigators finding themselves in horrific situations. Harry’s investigation was great to watch, and it came with many twists and turns regarding the conspiracy involving Nix’s death and those who will kill to keep Harry from uncovering the plan they have to resurrect Nix. While this is the main aspect of the story, we also have the conflict between Swann, his wife Dorothea(Famke Janssen; X-Men, 100 Feet, The Faculty, House on Haunted Hill remake), and Nix’s devout and deadly followers. If you enjoy stories involving cults and black magic then this Barker tale is sure to keep you engaged as it did for me.
Once again Barker solidifies himself as a legitimate horror director with his superb visuals, great camerawork, and overall positive direction of the horror involved. I love how he took a macabre approach to filming this flick, and despite this being unlike any other story he has given us he managed to add his usual touch and flair of awesome creatures, exciting characters, and superb live-action gore. The sets used are great, and despite this not being his best work I was very engaged visually in what was going on thanks to how well he executed every possible element, from acting, to the musical score, and to the horror itself.
Overall, Lord of Illusions is another great horror experience under Barker’s direction. We get a unique storyline employing the seldom used element of magic, which comes accompanied by great characters and elements of the macabre. His direction is great, and he delivers good horror that comes complimented with awesome gore and sweet creature FX, making this a worthwhile film for those who enjoy Barker’s work.