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Lord Of Illusions

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Lord Of Illusions

Starring: Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O'Connor
Director: Clive Barker
Rated: R
RunTime: 121 Minutes
Release Date: August 1995
Genres: Horror, Suspense

*Also starring: Famke Janssen, Vincent Schiavelli, Barry Del Sherman, Sheila Tousey, Joel Swetow, Joseph Latimore, Susan Traylor, Daniel Von Bargen, Jordan Marder, Ronn Schmidt

Review by Dragan Antulov
2½ stars out of 4

Just like great literature seldom leads to great movies, great writers usually tend to make lousy moviemakers. Clive Barker, one of the most popular horror writers in past few decades, is an exception to this rule. Already established as one of the best pens of the genre, Barker has surprised many in 1986 as a director of HELLRAISER, a movie that would later become cult classic and lead to many sequels. Unfortunately, Barker's subsequent efforts to leave similar impact have failed, and that includes his 1995 film LORD OF ILLUSIONS.

The plot of the film is based on Barker's short story LETHAL ILLUSION. Protagonist is Harry D'Amour (played by Scott Bakula), New York private detective specialised in cases that involve elements of the supernatural. He is hired by Dorothea Swann (played by Famke Janssen) and brought to Los Angeles in order to protect her husband Philip (played by Kevin J. O'Connor), one of the world's most famous illusionists. To the rest of the world Philip is nothing more than a master of smoke and mirrors, but many years ago illusionist was actually introduced to real magic arts while being member of a desert magic cult led by charismatic and evil Harry Nix (played by Daniel Von Bargen). Philip had been leading the revolt against Nix which ended in the death of Nix. Apparent death of Philip in one of the stunts that went disastrously wrong won't stop Harry from continuing investigation and his attraction to Dorothea is part of the reason.

All those familiar to Barker's work know what to expect in this film - plenty of graphic violence, gore and similar scenes that require top make-up effects specialists and inventive S/M props. However, unlike many untalented horror filmmakers that use those effects at the expense of everything else, Barker knows how to make credible characters and compelling stories. In this case he made an interesting combination of supernatural horror and hard-boiled detective story. This movie relies on acting as much as on gore, and LORD OF ILLUSIONS has quite a few nice performances. Scott Bakula is very convincing as a detective, Kevin J. O'Connor is good as a man tortured by internal demons and Famke Janssen leaves good impression as vulnerable woman. Unfortunately, the main villain, played by Daniel Von Bargen, is slightly over the top and the ending has too many cliches. However, the general impression of the film is mostly positive, and LORD OF ILLUSIONS proves that good horror films in this day and age aren't beyond the realms of reality.

(Note: This review is based on 1995 theatrical release, not on the Director's Cut available on DVD.)

Copyright 2003 Dragan Antulov

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