Lord of Illusions (1995) - Rotten Tomatoes

Lord of Illusions (1995)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

A private investigator hired to protect a popular stage magician finds himself drawn into a dark, occult underworld in this supernatural horror film from writer-director Clive Barker. With several nods to film noir tradition, the danger begins for detective Harry D'Amour (Scott Bakula) when he is approached by a beautiful woman, Dorothea Swann (Famke Janssen). Dorothea is married to Philip Swann (Kevin J. O'Connor), a wealthy illusionist who has found fame by disguising real magic as stage trickery, and believes that her husband may be in danger. Harry reluctantly agrees to investigate, and he discovers that Swann has made enemies of a bizarre religious cult who wish to resurrect their leader, an evil sorcerer killed by Swann.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Horror
Directed By:
Written By: Clive Barker
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 29, 1998
MGM Home Entertainment


Famke Janssen
as Dorothea
Barry Del Sherman
as Butterfield
Joel Swetow
as Valentin
Sheila Tousey
as Jennifer
Joel Sweto
as Valentin
J. Trevor Edmond
as Young Butterfield
Susan Traylor
as Maureen Pimm
Ashley Lyn Cafagna
as Young Dorothea
Michael Angelo Stuno
as Lead Male Cultist
Barbara Patrick
as Lead Female Cultist
Mikey LeBeau
as Exorcised Boy
Robb Humphreys
as D'Amour's Demon
James Brandon Shaw
as Motel Bellboy
Jordan Marder
as Ray Miller
McNally Sagal
as Detective Eddison
Joanna Sanchez
as Clemenzia
Stephen Weingartner
as Stage Manager
Daniel Edward Mora J...
as Stage Technician
Billy McComb
as Walter Wilder
Lorin Stewart
as Billy Who
Mike Deak
as Apparition In Reposi...
Nick Hunter
as Cultist
Ava Stander
as Cultist
D.F. Swatter
as Cultist
Heidi Wolfe
as Cultist
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Lord of Illusions

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (8)

Barker's visual side dominates its literary equivalent this time out, resulting in a time-killer that may amuse fans until illusion is shattered by the rolling of the end credits.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Sadly, with Lord of Illusions, Clive Barker stumbles into the same pitfalls he did when he made Nightbreed just five years earlier. It's dull, unengaging, and features a plot that is stretched out far past its breaking point.

Full Review… | December 15, 2014

Audience Reviews for Lord of Illusions

Prophesied by Stephen King to be the new savant of horror, novelist Clive Barker doesn't laxly embark on big-screen descents. For Barker, the scariest concept is the mundane depravity of people via occult influences ala Candyman and Hellraiser. To that extent, the disciples of Nix "The Puritan" (Daniel Von Bargen) are the most frightening components as they skin human and animal carcasses in a hypnotized daze of worship. It could be contended that Lord of Illusions is his most ambitious with its emphasis on FX-augmented black magic and Phillip Marlowe film noir. With a five-o'clock shadow and Budweiser-gulping, self-loathing style, Scott Bakula is a chiseled 50's detective but he is too passive to be the grizzled hero. Barker can conjure phantasmagorical visuals that seep into the subconscious (ex. A fortune teller with scalpel acupuncture through his midsection and hourglass sand pouring through a body.). The most dastardly of which is Swan's (Kevin J. O'Connor) macerating death on stage in front of a packed auditorium from falling swords on a rotating chandelier. Bargen, in his resurrected form, is chilling with the piebald outline of an iron-maiden mask around his face and his pineal gland throbbing on his forehead. His voice is now a baritone rumble as he preaches about "wisdom from beyond the grave". Most hocus-pocus flicks err on needless gore but Barker is too thought-provoking for such a fate. He intelligently asks whether the messiahs utilized trickery for their miracles and if demonic spirits are responsible for true acts of mysticism. The special effects are not faultless. For instance, a holographic security guard and triangular origami are too artificial and rudimentary in a post-1995 world. But the gooey reanimation of Nix is a symphony of pulsating ectoplasm like Frank in Hellraiser. Mindless sycophancy is a spine-tingling area to explore and Barker really taps into the terror of a group of brainwashed lamb under the spell of a supernatural deity. In his repertoire, Lord of Illusion is Barker's operatic sorcery opus.

Cory Taylor
Cory Taylor

Super Reviewer

Clive Barker's Lords of Illusions is a slightly more developed film than his previous film, Night breed. I thought that Night breed was a decent affair, but it was nowhere near as good as his directorial debut, Hellraiser. This film is a well crafted horror tale that Barker conjures up from his brilliant, twisted imagination. The film is a well structured tale that will entertain you from start to finish. The cast do a fine job with the script and the visuals are impressive and terrifying. Clive Barker is a master of horror and he directs something truly original and worthwhile for genre fans. The cast that he directs is quite good, and there are plenty of effective performances. I really enjoyed the film, and thought it was a fine achievement for Barker, who knows exactly how to create effective terror. This is a well crafted movie that will delight die hard Clive Barker fans. The film is edge of your seat entertainment from start to finish, and with a well written script, Barker conjures up some truly intense moments that will pull you into this nightmare. Clive Barker has the talent to truly create something that will terrify you, and with Lord of Illusions, he crafts something truly intense and creepy. He is gifted in giving the viewing audience something truly memorable. Even if this isn't his best work, Lord of Illusions is a good horror film definitely worth checking out if you love Barker's work. Lords of Illusions is a horror tale that is effective, and it is only a film that can Clive Barker could have created. Everything you'd expect from him is apparent here, and he has made his best movie since his impressive 1987 directorial debut, Hellraiser.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

I had such high hopes for this movie; based on a book by Clive Barker and with a good cast. I even liked the theme of real magic being resisted by one talented in the field but turned off by seeing its extreme. But this movie seems like a huge muddled narrative mess with ugly effects. Poor pacing and execution killed this movie. What a disappointment.

Emily Armstrong

Super Reviewer

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