Lord of Illusions (1995)

It's been years since I've seen LORD OF ILLUSIONS. I think the last time was when it was a new release on VHS? Well, not much has changed in my opinion of the film. Let's explore: A private detective is hired by an illusionist's wife to investigate the murders of his past associates, as the three are thrust into the dark world of magic, murder, and betrayal. For a film titled LORD OF ILLUSIONS, there is a serious lack of illusions. Like, maybe 5. Now, granted, the visual FX for 1995 were pretty remarkable, however the plot plays out as a film noir detective story focusing on the slow revelation of clues rather than the big budget FX the title and cover suggest. That isn't to say that the plot is bad, necessarily, but rather unexpected. Barker introduces his favorite sleuth Harry D'Amour to the screen as played by Quantum Leap's Scott Bakula, whose combined talents do create a genuine throwback to the detective films that dominated the 40s and 50s. There are also many other odd and offsetting characters that continue to drive the mystery and suspense; that is, all but one. Daniel von Bargen just doesn't sell the harbinger of destruction that he should as the supposed Lord of Illusions. The film is given ample time to build to the climactic end, but after the audience blindly lends their attention to Clive in expectation of a nightmarish finale, the end of the film just leaves most fans wanting more. What can be said of it is that the film clearly delivers a Barker original, and his mark is stamped all throughout the characters and visuals. It is interesting and unique, but certainly does nothing to top his ground-breaking HELLRAISER or Horror/Fantasy NIGHTBREED.

Rating: 7/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 2.

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  1. Wow man, I actually think this one is Barkers best film. For me its way better then even Hellraiser.

    I love the story, but also the villain: Nix. He is one memorable villain! And that finale is just fucking nuts, with him using all those mental powers on his followers, the guy just feels like pure concentrated evil to me!

  2. Yeah I dunno why I dont buy Nix, perhaps its the performance, maybe the long build, whatever the case I am just not the least bit intimidated by the role. I do like the makeup and FX work when he blisters apart in the end though, and naturally Barker's prose reads beautifully in the dialogue. I still consider the FX in HELLRAISER to be some of the most groundbreaking work in the genre, and this would have been the perfect opportunity to break out the big guns.

  3. I was very curious to read your review. This too, is my favorite of the Clive Barker films. I do love the story and the way it is told. Could be because I am such a great fan of his horror writing and I thought that this film really caputered the story.

    That said, I do have to say that the ending was not very Hollywood and I can see why some people had a problem with it. I remember talking to him at a book signing years ago and he said if hee had not been as popular at the time, he would have likely had to change the ending for the studio.

    So who knows...maybe the remake (which I am sure will happen someday) will have the ending that everyone is looking for. :)


  4. Im glad to see it has a strong following, I had always thought that this one was widely overlooked and that it didnt have a fan base! I would be very interested in reading the original story, I have no means of comparison on it, and I may have overlooked some things in my two viewings that were integral to the plot. Will have to give this one another go sooner than in the next 15 years lol..

  5. I like that ending because it has Nix and Swan fighting with their mental powers, and Nix has got that evil voice, trying to make Swan join him in his dark quest.

    Thing is, he is the epitome of the evil religious leader, sucking the life out of and flat out lying to his followers. Its all very symbolic...that scene where his followers are practically burned to a crisp by their leader. Blinded to whats really happening to them.

    Did you see the directors cut of the film?

  6. Yeah definitely saw the director's cut, and there were some strong visuals in the finale that I enjoyed, particularly when everyone was consumed by the earth. What was omitted in the theatrical release that made it to the DC, was it the storytelling or the visuals?

  7. I probably would have rated this one just a TAD higher than you did and I loved this movie for a few different reasons. 1) It comes from the brilliant mind of Clive Barker. Duh! 2) I thought Scott Bakula was great in it and I honestly think it's a shame that he doesn't really do anything worthwhile nowadays. 3) I don't care what anyone says, I think Famke Jensen is fucking hot!

    As far as Nix, I kinda sorta bought him but yeah he just wasn't as menacing as he should've been. If the goal was to just make him look like a bat-shit crazy religious cult leader then I think they succeeded in that respect.

    The Film Connoisseur brings up some good points but I will have to disagree and say that HELLRAISER completely pwnz this movie and I would easily put LOI behind NIGHTBREED as well.

  8. Im with you here, Aaron, though I like the movie NB and HELLRAISER definitely appealed more to my interests. I really think my expectations for the film was completely skewed by the title, as I always envisioned a Lord of Illusions being able to do more than juggle fire, levitate, and twist people's thoughts. Granted, he did pull out the big(ger) guns at the end.