Lord of Illusions (1995)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

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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 … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Horror
Directed By:
Written By: Clive Barker
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 29, 1998
Runtime:
MGM Home Entertainment

Cast


as Dorothea

as Butterfield

as Valentin

as Jennifer

as Young Butterfield

as Valentin

as Maureen Pimm

as Young Dorothea

as Lead Male Cultist

as Lead Female Cultist

as Loomis

as Exorcised Boy

as D'Amour's Demon

as Motel Bellboy

as Ray Miller

as Detective Eddison

as Clemenzia

as Stage Manager

as Stage Technician

as Walter Wilder

as Billy Who

as Dr. Toffler

as Apparition In Reposi...

as Cultist

as Cultist

as Cultist

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
Variety
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
Examiner.com

Audience Reviews for Lord of Illusions

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.

TheDudeLebowski65
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.

MidnightMadwoman
Emily Armstrong

Super Reviewer

You know when you're watching a film by Clive Barker, that you're in good-hands. When I saw this film was floored by an oddly-believable tale of magic, both ancient and modern. It's interesting to note that Mr. Barker is well-versed in occult-lore, and that when you view his films he's trying to mess with your head on several-levels at-once. Magic is real, we do it every day, but it's seldom-acknowledged. When we think-of-something--an action, or a wish--and we externalize-it into-reality, we have done something that is magical. Animals are also capable of this, but none-so-well as human-beings. Technology is also an externalization of the human-mind (and body), and stems from a scientific-tradition that began with alchemy. In the mystery-traditions, an initiate would be immersed in a symbolic-environment, just as advertising does today for darker-aims! We live illusion every-single-day. If-only it wasn't dead in pustulent-Hollywood.

The battle-between the flesh and this world is eternal, and Clive Barker throws us into the midst of this battle. The film begins in-flashback to a cult-compound that looks a disturbingly-similar mix between the Branch Davidian one in Waco, and Spahn Ranch in Death Valley (once-populated by the Manson Family). This is the story of the birth of a religion, and where-else do they usually begin? The desert, of-course. But Barker takes-it-further, and we get what could be taken as an inversion of the Christian-myth of Jesus. Nix is the messianic-figure, who tells his disciples, "Fire spoke to me and said--NIX, you are the chosen-one, the Puritan." Unlike Christ's meeting with Satan in the desert, Nix succumbs-to-temptation, and his hatred for the material-world. Has he met-with darkness, or fire-itself, an elemental-force? Barker let's US decide throughout what we are seeing-and-hearing--yes, he's playing-with us. Maybe this isn't an inversion of Christianity, after-all...

But, Nix is betrayed in the opening-prologue by his chosen-one, Swann. 13-years pass, and Swann is an incredibly-successful stage-magician, using the skills taught him by Nix. He has a consort in Dorothea, and in a direct-reference to Gnosticism, a wizard's assistant in Valentin. Being our cinematic eyes-and-ears, we are introduced to the Detective Harry D'Amour, a gumshoe with a penchant for the unknown in the occult-underworld. We get-treated to some great film-noir moments thanks to Barker's genius-take on the P.I. character, and it blends with horror effectively. A lot of credit has to go to Scott Bakula for his performance as D'Amour, it's a tightrope-role that requires a subtle-approach, with a little humor and cynicism. He's our surrogate, and his disbelief is crucial to our accepting the realities of this story, a tall-order! I believe Barker and his collaborators succeeded in-spades.

Interestingly, Clive makes a wonderful-homage to Orson Welles (himself an illusionist of high-caliber) in the early murder-scene of the fortune-teller. It's shot in the very-same Venice locations as Welles' "Touch of Evil" (1958), a noir-classic. In some-respects, this film also resembles Welles' "Mr. Arkadian", with a detective searching a man's past as the central-narrative--this was also copied by Alan Parker and his writers on "Angel Heart" (1986), another classic of horror. Barker also references Mario Bava's "Black Sunday" (1960) with the tale of a resurrected-witch/wizard, and the mask that punctures Nix's face into a ghastly-visage.

By the end of the film, it's clear that Nix has come to destroy the world, and we are shown realities we'd rather forget. In-a-sense, there are many criticisms of ALL world religions here, even esoteric-ones. Barker condemns the notion that it is the world that corrupts, and that material-reality is the only source-of-evil and destruction. Mankind can be that essential-ingredient ("Fire spoke to me and said...") of chaos and destruction--we hold our fates in our own-hands, we are that hand-of-fate in occultism.

We stare into-the-abyss, like Nix and Swann, and realize there is nothing, only ourselves. WE are the meaning in the universe, because we create that meaning. Nix, his followers, and Swann succumb to this, and decide non-existence is better. Harry D'Amour, and his allies in the story, do not. The battle, then, is between creation and destruction, not good-versus-evil. D'Amour and Dorothea are an erotic and productive-dyad, whereas Swann and Nix are not. The Apocalypse is always in human-hands when individuals succumb to the forces of the universe that are destructive. They have given-up.
Its too bad we didn't get any more Harry D'Amour films or tv series that was talked about at one time. This movie was a great start to new horror/fantasy series. Maybe we will see D'Amour back on screen one day

cancercapricorn2002
David Ladd

Super Reviewer

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