There are only a select few filmmakers that can truly bring nightmares to life. The name at the very top of that list is most certainly Clive Barker. Perhaps most well-known for the Hellraiser series, Barker is a master at creating some of the most intense imagery ever seen in horror cinema. His 1995 film, Lord of Illusions, is no exception and can now be seen remastered in beautiful high-definition, thanks to the folks at Shout! Factory.
Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap) portrays Harry D’Amour, a private detective visiting Los Angeles on a routine investigation. Harry gets more than he bargains for when he encounters Philip Swan (Kevin J. O’Connor, The Mummy), a performer whose amazing illusions captivate the world. But are they really illusions? Harry isn’t so sure as he is thrust into a nightmare of murder, deception and terrifying assaults from the dark beyond.
I must admit that up until last year, the only work I knew of Clive Barker was indeed the Hellraiser series. I know he has been a writer for many years and has tons of material, but I never watched any of his other films (or films based off of his work) or read any of his short stories/books. Thanks to another amazing release from Scream! Factory, I now own yet another one of his masterpieces with Lord of Illusions.
Lord of Illusions is not your typical horror film. While the horror does get very intense, Barker has been on the record stating that he wanted to mix horror with elements from crime dramas and noir films, and I must say, he did a damn fine job of this.
The cast consisting of Scott Bakula, Famke Janssen, Daniel von Bargen, and Kevin J. O’Connor all did a wonderful job. Bakula fit the role of a police investigator perfectly and O’Connor was excellent as the strange illusionist, Philip Swan. My favorite performance, however, was delivered by Daniel von Bargen as the film’s antagonist, Nix. His creepy dialogue and peculiar powers were already enough to freak me out, but once he returned as a mummy-like ghoul, things really got scary. Together with von Bargen’s acting chops, Clive Barker’s imagination, and the ever-outstanding effects of KNB, a truly hellish villain was born.
If you are a Clive Barker fan, I highly recommend adding this release to your collection. It makes a fantastic companion piece to the recent Nightbreed Blu-ray and with tons of great bonus features, you will have plenty of content to keep you busy. Be sure to pick up your copy from Shout! Factory’s official website upon its official release, December 16.
I give this film 3.5 throbbing holes in the head out of 5.