LORD OF ILLUSIONS (1995) – Director’s Cut

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Written and Directed by Clive Barker
Available on DVD from Amazon

After trapping, killing and burying a powerful, dangerous magician cult leader named Nix, Philip Swann proceeds to live his life disguising his own magic as fake trickery as a famous, successful illusionist touring the theatre circuits. When Swann and his old friends, who helped bury Nix 13 years previously, wind up dead, private eye investigator Harry D’Amour must dig around to find the truth about the mysterious Nix before he can be resurrected.

This is the first time I’ve seen Clive Barker’s LORD OF ILLUSIONS and whilst I’m not familair with the theatrical version, it’s reported that the director’s cut makes more sense and is an overall better film than the one the studio cut for the cinema. Written by Barker specifically for the film, LORD OF ILLUSIONS has the typical torturous style as seen in Barker’s other work, Hellraiser. That inherent evil, along with the demonic visuals presented at the screen, will worm its way under your skin. It’s uncomfortable at times, though Hellraiser is the better and scarier of the two.

Plenty of famous faces grace the screen and each one delivers characters who we can relate to and form an opinion about. The Mummy‘s Kevin J. O’Connor is the film’s protagonist Swann, a protege of Nix’s but who disagrees with Nix’s desire to murder the world. After he kidnaps a child, Swann is determined to stop him for good, and is successfully in doing so… but for how long?

Scott Bakula stars as private eye D’Amour, who takes on a job in L.A. where he accidentally stumbles across a murder of a fortune teller. Coming face to face with the culprit, Nix’s right-hand man Butterfield (a terrifying Barry Del Sherman), D’Amour becomes embroiled in the whole saga. Though from flashbacks and reports of his past work, it would appear D’Amour isn’t unfamiliar with the demonic dimensions.

The story is well paced and spends a good amount of time layering the storyline to create a world for these characters that we can believe in. D’Amour investigates by immersing himself in the magic circles to try and find information that could help his investigation, and in that respect, the film comes off as part detective drama, mystery and horror. The viewer already knows of the capabilities of Nix, and part of us wants to shout at the screen if we see D’Amour heading in the wrong direction.

On the whole, most of the content in LORD OF ILLUSIONS works, apart from a sex scene between D’Amour and Swann’s widow Dorothia (Famke Janssen) which feels like it’s been thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately though, the film doesn’t quite deliver at the final moment, and appears to unravel without making solid blow. I know I keep comparing to Hellraiser, but that had such an iconic and memorable ending that one can never forget, particularly with the “Jesus Wept” scene. Lord of Illusions fizzles out in comparison and comes across as quite tame, leaving me wanting something more after such a strong build up.

There’s plenty to enjoy from this movie, and with Barker’s trademark disturbing visuals, it will sure to leave an impression on you.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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About Bat 4417 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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