• R, 1 hr. 48 min.
  • Horror
  • Directed By:
    Clive Barker
    In Theaters:
    Aug 25, 1995 Wide
    On DVD:
    Sep 29, 1998
  • MGM Home Entertainment

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Lord of Illusions Reviews

Page 1 of 17

Super Reviewer

August 1, 2013
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.
Emily A

Super Reviewer

January 12, 2009
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.

Super Reviewer

July 2, 2007
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
Lafe F

Super Reviewer

June 9, 2007
Clive Barker's movie about a detective investigating a stage magician with real tricks, a series of grisly murders, and their connections with and a strange cult in the desert. Great special effects and plotting make for an enjoyable movie. There's plenty of gore to be seen in this often-forgotten horror gem.
Mace R.
Mace R.

Super Reviewer

August 14, 2012
Visual masturbation, pure and simple.

Super Reviewer

July 26, 2007
Pretty good effort from Clive Barker. It had a really cool concept and Clive Barker has always been good at creating some very dark and creepy imagery. Unfortunantly there were a lot of questionable decisions made in the Special Effects department, some of which were laughable. The acting was acceptable, but no one really blew me away. I definently prefer this to more recent efforts like The Presitge or The Illusionist. I thought both of those were mind numbingly dull and I actually put off seeing this for so long becuse the concept sounded too familiar to those two films. Worth seeing, but just above average in my opinion.

Super Reviewer

December 29, 2007
May 30, 2013
Maybe I have to see this again as it could have been ok but I thought this pretty much sucked and had nothing going for it. I'm normally indifferent to horror movies made in modern times that try to be noiry.
January 30, 2012
creepy horror film from clive barker, it contains a lot of disturbing elements, as do all of barkers stories, tho this one is probably the least fantastical of his works, its more of this world than other worlds, its an effective thriller that builds slowly, that kept me intrigued throughout, tho it kinda faltered at the end a bit, the acting is good, and janssen looks as hot as ever, definitely worth seeing for all clive barker fans
October 9, 2011
This was a pretty decent film. The story line was good but went way over the top by the end and it almost ruined the whole thing. The cast is class A. Scott Bakula is great and funny in the film. Kevin J. O'Connor is good and comes off kind of creepy. Famke Janssen is a good female lead. Daniel Von Bargen is really crazy in this film and was a good evil lead. There are many good side characters as well, but my favorite is played by Barry Del as Sherman. Talk about one messed up creepy character. The film has some decent special effects for its time and it may not make you jump out of your seat, but you will still mentally feel scared. It really does have that creepy feeling. Clive Barker really did a decent job on this film.
February 3, 2009
Be ready to be surprised by the wonderful diamond in the rough that is Lord of Illusions. Between the hard-boiled detective and the satanic magic aspects, don't be surprised with this movie has you wrapped around its finger. Sure its campy at times and the visual effects are a bit dated, but the solid, sinister story and respectable acting keep you hooked from the very beginning. And with Clive Barker directing, the movie took great bits of Barker Mythos and fused into a movie that was intensely satisfying and intimately dark. With all that being said and without hesitation, I can tell you that Lord of Illusions is destined to be one of the greatest cult movies ever.
January 17, 2010
This movie was one of the best horror movies I have ever seen. I can't believe I put this one off for so long but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise ,cause I doubt I would appreciate the MAGIK that this movie creates. Much like a Stephen King movie but unlike King where the darkness is only revealed to those who know where to look for it. Barker is very upfront and in your face with his DARKNESS (Evil). One of the best scenes ever in a movie was the one between Harry (Scott Backula) and the dying Palm Reader where he said to Harry "You are drawn to the dark side over and over. You don't like that. You can't change it. You must walk the line between heaven and hell. It is your destiny.Accept it."
January 3, 2009
I was honestly amazed!!

It looked like a pile shit, but it was actually a pretty good movie, go figure!
Ken D

Super Reviewer

November 16, 2008
A truly underrated horror movie. With Clive barker at the helm, nothing really goes wrong with this movie. Some good gore and some uncomfortable scenes make thisd a worthwhile watch.
June 13, 2008
like i've said before, i must be biased towards clive barker. a horror/detective story. and it works! he both directed and wrote!
December 30, 2007
'Lord of Illusions' is a very creepy and disturbing film but it also is cheesy and has some plot holes in it. The movie's premise is very intriguing but it isn't executed anywhere near as well as it could be. Scott Bakula really hams it up in this with a corny performance, while Famke Janssen is actually pretty solid. You may recognize Daniel Von Bargen who plays Kruger in the television hit comedy Malcolm in the Middle as the head bad guy/demon/monster who is always fun if not repulsive to watch (he's pretty gross looking towards the end.) In the end, 'Lord of Illusions' packs in some weirdness, gore and chills, but it lacks a lot too. It's definitely not one of Clive Barker's best films (for that rent either 'Hellraiser' or the ultra-scary 'Candyman'.) I can't recommend renting this, but if you come across it one night on TV when nothing else is on, I'd maybe give it a shot. Grade: C
October 13, 2007
like i've said before, i must be biased towards clive barker. a horror/detective story. and it works! he bothe directed and wrote!
August 18, 2007
first ten minutes and the last half hour of this movie were stunning.. I was born.. to murder the world
June 25, 2007
This showed quite well that Clive's capable of writing AND directing a good movie, if he's allowed to make it HIS way. It's good stuff. :>

Super Reviewer

June 13, 2007
Prepare yourself for a descent into the unknown! This film is both unique and fascinating. It definitely has alot more substance than your average thriller. Scott Bakula does a terrific job in his role as a private detective who is constantly drawn to the dark side. I adored his gorey flashbacks. The entire atmosphere of the film is captivating - I found myself really drawn in. To fully appreciate this one, you must watch the director's cut. It contains some extra footage that really enhances the plot. A must see for horror fans! Way to go Clive Barker!
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