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"I was born to murder the world."
Backlash0076 September 2002
"There are two worlds of magic. One is the glittering domain of the illusionist. The other is a secret place, where magic is a terrifying reality. Here, men have the power of demons. And Death itself is an illusion."

Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions is a terrifying glimpse into another world in which few have traveled. Those who have been there, didn't like what Barker had to show them. I wasn't even impressed with it upon my first viewing. I simply forgot it, lumped it in with the other, countless horror films I've seen and will never see again. However, I recently rediscovered it...and was completely awestruck. The theatrical release did not do the film justice. It dropped priceless minutes of film and much need footage. I strongly urge you to seek out the uncut director's version on DVD format. This is a very big horror movie, and a hidden treasure at that; hidden under a brilliant detective story and surrounded by film noir. But I promise you there is a horror spectacle buried under there. It may be a little slow going at times...but all that build-up makes whatever happens all the more effective. Lord of Illusions is an unbelievably awesome, genre-twisting experience (and was never bastardized by a sequel). Everyone needs to take this journey again. Please Mr. Barker...make another film.

Dorothea: "What the f**k are you?"

Nix: "A man who wanted to be a God...and changed his mind."
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10/10
Director's Edition is the best (Spoilers)
domino100315 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
For those who haven't seen the original theatrical version of "Lord of Illusions", you might want to check out the extended version.

Harry D'Amour (Scott Bakula) is a private detective with a problem: He has a dark side. It seems that a lot of cases turn ugly (One involving an exorcism). Offered an opportunity to get away from the insanity, he's offered a job tailing someone involved in insurance fraud. However, things REALLY turn ugly when he stumbles upon a guy being used as a pincushion. What's the reason behind this?

Seems that years ago, a cult leader called Nix (Daniel Von Bargen) had very spooky powers and was just about nuts. After kidnapping a young girl, some of his followers including Mr. Pincushion and Swann (The very underrated Kevin J. O'Connor)put Nix out of his misery, binding him and burying him deep in the earth. Now most of those that killed him are winding up dead. Swann, who is now a popular illusionist, winds up dead in a horrific accident during one of his shows, with his wife Dorothea (Famke Janssen) in attendance. D'Amour is soon drawn into a mystery in which things are not what they appear and people may or may not be dead.

In the Director's Cut of the film,You have a better understanding of D'amour's dark side, plus you get to see a little more into the cultists, how their devotion to Nix is without question (You actually see them headed to Nix's resurrection after they killed members of their family!). The deleted scenes are o.k. and you could sort of understand why they were deleted. Barker's commentary is a plus (Actually, I like when director's put their 2 cents on the makings of a movie.)

The part when Nix returns STILL creeps me out. Not in the manner of his return, but the blind devotion that his followers show him.

Anyway, rent this, or at least buy it. For Clive Barker fans, horror buffs, or just to have a good time on Saturday night.
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10/10
Barkers Best
spacemonkey_fg17 November 2005
Title: Lord of Illusions (1995)

Director: Clive Barker

Cast: Scot Bakula, Franke Jensen, Kevin J. Oconnor

Review:

Clive Barkers takes us in deep into the world of magic and horror with what in my opinion is his best film...Lord of Illusions.

The story is about this religious cult whos leader Nix promises his followers eternal life. Swann, an ex member of the cult, gets cold feet and decides he wants out of the cult of freaky people and decides to eliminate the cult and its leader Nix. He manages to stop Nix and bury him....but is he dead? Many years later after these events Swann has become a David Copperfield type of magician winning big money. But suddenly some people are after him and there's rumors that Nix...the cult leader he laid to sleep might be returning for revenge on those who restrained him. Swann included.

The good thing about this movie for me is that it takes us into this world of magic, demons and religion in a very credible way. Barker handles things properly in this film by taking us into fantastic territory but with a touch of realism. As if it all could in fact be true. Thats the feeling I got while watching this film. And ultimately thats what makes the film so effectively creepy.

Nix is a great villain and I never for once felt I was watching some actor playing a by the numbers villain just for the kicks of it. Daniel Von Bergen as Nix delivers a great and evil performance. He uses anyone and everyone, he is selfish in his quest for ultimate knowledge and power over the supernatural and will do anything to have it. The guy is pure evil...and when he is about to be re awakened you almost feel sorry for the poor dopes who are doing it.

Another one of the movies assets is that it is done in the fashion of an old detective flick, with Scott Bakulas character Harry D Amour as the grounded on reality Detective who is constantly being confronted with the fact that this world is filled with things that we know nothing about. We see the film through Harrys eyes as he plunges himself deeper into the world of magic and Illusion. This is a smart lead character and cool thing about it is that you don't feel like its a bunch of teenagers making mistake after mistake, this guy knows what he is doing, he is a detective taking a full plunge into the dark world of Nix's religious cult.

But by far the coolest thing about this movie is its story. Barker carved up a fine spooky tale. Something to really scare you. The story is complex, and keeps you interested all through out, like a good mystery should. Not only that, but he directed the film with some real style. The movie just looks beautiful in everyway. A really good example of this is Swanns Illussion show in which he performs his "Last Illusion". Great sets and music in those sequences. Speaking of the music, as is the case in most of Barkers films, the music elevates everything to another level of grandiosity. You get this feeling that you are watching something epic and forbidden.

All in all, I would say that no doubt this is Barkers finest film to date. Its got a great involving story, good performances a great and memorable villain and a feeling of realism even though we are dealing with magic and Illusions. Barker is a master at weaving fantastic and dark fantasies, this my friends is his best one, go check it out! Rating: 5 out of 5
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A morbid, violent and frightening film, Barker makes a film in "Hellraiser" style...
ary14 May 1999
If you liked the first two films of the series "Hellraiser" and appraised "Nightbreed",you will have a thankful surprise with 1995's "The Lord of Illusions", the last film that Barker directed ( he is currently re-writing his story "The Thief Of Always" for the screen), and that carries his characteristics and basic ideas. The film is morbid, violent and very frightening as well as "Hellraise" was, back in the eighties.It explores delicate themes as mysticism, demons and sects. One of the great qualities of Barker's last project is to dare, telling a tense and complex story in an imaginative and bloody way. The homosexual context of the work is evident, Clive Barker once again tried to join the concepts of pain, fear, horror, pleasure and meat, but he didn't obtain an excellent result as he achieved in "Hellraiser" . However, "The Lord of Illusions" is a more sophisticated film, with a tuned cast, formed by Scott Bakula and Famke Jansem,just to mention a few,and with an above-the-average production. The atmosphere, and the scenery, in this English movie-maker's filmography, is quite significant element, if in "Hellraiser" the atmosphere was dark and sordid, "The Lord of Illusions" is punctuated by clear, stunning and luminous sceneries, exalting the whole magic and madness' aspects. The story is very intricate, and it involves a rich and famous magician who sold his soul for the devil and who is now sorry, his temptress and reluctant wife and an ambitious detective who will find himself a prisoner in a tissue of murders, strange creatures and homosexuality.So, if you like Clive Barker's ideas, watch this film today!! "The Lord of Illusions" is rated R for strong violence, gore, language and sexuality and it runs 108 minutes.
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Not my taste, but well done
vchimpanzee31 January 2006
While magician Nix entertains his young audience by holding fire and even juggling it, Philip Swann and others are rescuing young Dorothea, who has been kidnapped and is being held in the same building. In the process of getting the girl out, Nix is killed--or is he? 13 years later, New York private detective Harry D'Amour is hired to go to Los Angeles to work on an insurance fraud case. He visits a fortune teller and is shocked to see a man dying violently. There may be a connection between this death and Swann, who is now married to Dorothea.

Valentin works for Swann and wants D'Amour to meet with Dorothea, who wants D'Amour to work for him (and also looks good in a swimsuit). D'Amour goes to one of Swann's shows, where one of the illusions doesn't go as planned. This gives Swann something to investigate. An interesting investigation follows.

My primary motive for watching this movie was seeing Scott Bakula, who I liked in 'Quantum Leap'. D'Amour is intelligent and a smart-aleck, sometimes funny, with just the right mix of confidence and vulnerability; he did not disappoint. Had I judged the movie from just its first 10 minutes, to paraphrase a line spoken by one of Dorothea's rescuers, I would have said bury this thing deep where it can never again be found. The same applies to the horrifying, graphically violent ending. And there is plenty of blood and gore in between the opening and the final scenes. I'm pretty sure the language was cleaned up for UPN as well--who actually would say 'Forget you' in a theatrical film? Sometimes the audio didn't sound right in situations where profanity would be expected.

The movie had redeeming qualities, though. Kevin O'Connor showed confidence onstage but often seemed afraid or nervous otherwise--I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and call that good acting. Vincent Schiavelli had a brief but effective scene as an illusionist in a meeting with others practicing the profession. Joel Swetow was good as Valentin.

Although they were not what I would call entertaining, I would say the visual effects were quality work. Certainly the gore factor was quite high, but someone did an impressive job with what is called morphing.

And Daniel von Bargen did an outstanding job as the very frightening Nix. I did not like the character at all, but one has to be impressed with the talent shown.
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9/10
Barker is still one of the greats
jack-10219 December 1998
Alright, so maybe this wasn't a great adaption of his short story, the Last Illusion, but it was one hell of a ride. The special effects aren't overdone, the acting was up to par, and the direction was marvelous. This movie is so gritty, its tone is perfect. Bakula may have been a bit too emotionless in a scene or two, but overall he was wonderful as the detective who gets caught up in the trickery, and the evil. There is also one or two funny moments, very very well placed. Of course, to fully appreciate the movie, you must watch the directors cut, with a couple extra scenes, that actually add a lot to the plotline, and the surreality of it all. Great stuff Clive!
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6/10
Pretty good horror film, not Barker's best
willywants6 July 2005
Private investigator Harry D'Amour must stop a supernatural cult from raising Nix, a man with god-like powers, who was killed 13 years before hand. Now he's back, and he must save illusionist Philip Swann and his wife, Dorothea. Clive Barker's "Lord of Illusions" may not be his ultimate masterpiece, but it sure is an entertaining horror film. Pretty good performances from most of the lead cast members, though Kevin J. O'Connor was a little wooden as Philip Swann. The make-up effects, courtesy of the boys at KNB FX, are really cool, and there's enough gore (My favorite being the messy "sword accident" scene) to satisfy horror fans. The visual effects were also very well-done for the most part.

An enjoyable, well-done horror film overall. Not a masterpiece but gory, fun and often imaginative. Worth a viewing.

6/10.
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10/10
If William Blake and Nietzsche Wrote a Horror-story Together
Matthew Janovic16 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman - a rope over an abyss... What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under... I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves. Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.

--Friedrich Nietzsche, "Also Sprach Zarathustra"

5 Jesus said, "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. And there is nothing buried that will not be raised."

29 Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels. Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty."

--From the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

"Flesh is a trap...and death is an illusion."

You know when you're watching a film by Clive Barker, that you're in good-hands. I saw this in 1995, and 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 (like Jesus), 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.
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8/10
A film I like alot -- and dislike.
lambiepie-229 June 2003
I like a great deal of this film although some parts of it drag and are unnecessary.

The casting is fine for everyone...those actors and actresses known and unknown at the time. I liked the constant good and evil conflicts of within for the Detective, Harry -- the Magician, Swann -- and the Girl, Dorthea. The film contains good effects, nice scenes with Swanns shows and of course..some gore.

Best of all in "Lord of Illusions", I love the character and story development of the magician Swann as a big time Celebrity, the inner workings of those in that industry, and his relationship (or lack there of) with the Girl, Dorthea.

But there is something about Daniel von Bargen who plays Nix in this film that makes me cringe...and is seductive at the same time..all traits of Clive Barker and his work.

Another trait seems to be Clive's problem with "a superior being" and what that entails, case in point, Nix's cultests and when Nix is finally restored, how he treats them for waiting for his return. A conflict that runs throughout all of Clive's work film, book, short story or otherwise.

This is an 'all right' feature, again many slow/confusing moments, no real sexual chemistry between Dorthea and Harry or Dorthea and Swann...but the story has a strong presence.

You do want to know what happens to a few characters and that makes you want to look at this film more than once beyond the "special effects" and gore. Eventually you may become like me after viewing the film and become a "couch editor" thinking, "Well, if that part was cut out and this part was here than there..then this film would rock!!"
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7/10
A nicely entertaining tale from a horror master.
Scott LeBrun4 May 2012
Acclaimed author Clive Barker adapts his own story "The Last Illusion" for this not especially imaginative but still well realized terror tale. It does do a neat job of combining detective fiction with a more paranormal / mystical bent. Scott Bakula plays private detective Harry D'Amour, who travels from NYC to LA on a routine case, ends up caught in something far more sinister. Story threads include the apparent death of a performing illusionist, Philip Swann (Kevin J. O'Connor) and the resurrection of a diabolical cult leader, Nix (Daniel von Bargen). Harry meets assorted dubious types on his way to figuring out just what the Hell is going on, falling in love with the illusionists' wife Dorothea (Famke Janssen) as well. Nothing that happens here is terribly surprising, but Barker does make up for that with a consistently gloomy tone, overwhelming atmosphere, and effective visuals, and also by getting convincing performances out of his well chosen cast. Bakula is a likable enough lead, Famke looks fetching as always, von Bargen is a genuinely intimidating villain (it's easy enough to believe that his character is no phony, but the real thing); other vivid contributions are made by character players Joseph Latimore, Sheila Tousey, Susan Traylor, Wayne Grace, Barry Del Sherman, Joel Swetow, Vincent Schiavelli, and Barry Shabaka Henley. The movie has impressive gore & makeup effects, and in general does show off the same kind of theatricality as a good stage show, being careful to make the distinction between "magic" and "illusions". As it begins, Barker is already layering on the tension and giving us a sense of doom and gloom to come. This is a good, meaty enough story that, even in its 122 minute long unrated director's cut, avoids any sort of filler and delivers enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. It's only too bad that Barker isn't inspired to direct his own stories more often, as the movies he turns out are a cut above most of what we see in the horror genre. "Lord of Illusions" is long but never boring. Seven out of 10.
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7/10
Hocus-Pocus horror!
Coventry17 March 2004
Clive Barker comes with an extremely morbid and sinister tale that almost entirely takes place in the mysterious world of magicians, illusionists and sorcerers. Indeed a very unique setting that just awaits an exquisite horror film! One thing you have to hand to Barker.like none other author, he has the talent to portray nightmarish worlds and macabre surroundings. The three major chapters in his career as a filmmaker all are tales of pure darkness. And - unlike Nightbreed - Lord of illusions can depend on a solid script and original story aspects. Clive combines the mysteries of magic with the dangers of a satanic cult in order to create one of the most frightening horror villains ever. Nix - a diabolical personification of evil who has complete control over elements like fire, gravity and even the human will and soul! Daniel Von Bargen (one of the most underrated actors alive) plays Nix amazingly and the hairs in the back of your neck will stand up as he says, `I was born.to murder the world' in his most vicious tone of voice. Scott Bakula is the private detective, hired by the ravishing Famke Janssen, to keep an eye on her husband who once buried Nix but now fears his resurrection from the grave. All in one, Lord of Illusion is a successful mixture of horror and detective, with gruesome make-up effects and more than enough tension to keep you focused. Barker controls the supernatural elements real well and he also injects multiple personal interests of his in his film. Like his disturbing obsession with masochism, for example, and the constant undertones of homosexuality and sexual perversion. The wholesome is served with a constant atmosphere of morbidity and very little humor. Therefore, Lord of Illusions is a very mature horror film that'll certainly frighten (or even shock) inexperienced viewers. Possible negative aspects about Lord of Illusions are the overall predictable twists the grotesque finale.
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9/10
Solid Barker Film
spacelord4 November 2000
Like Stephen King, it seems to me Clive Barker does not seem to have much luck with movies. Rawhead Rex and Transmutations (also known as Underground) turned out wretched. Even when Barker directs his own films the results can be mixed--Night Breed is only a mediocre movie at best, although much of this is to be blamed on poor editing. Lord of Illusions was then a pleasant surprise for me. Here is an entertaining movie that captures the spirit of Clive Barker's literary works on film. There is violence, gore, depravity, and the mounting terror that one usually finds in Barker's works. My only complaint with the film is that some of the characters, other than Harry D'Amour, are not fully developed. Dorothea in particular seems rather 2 dimensional--she is there simply as the standard film noir heroine. Anyhow, except for the first two Hellraiser films, Lord of Illusions is Barker at his best.
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Fascinating!
daveyboy-71 September 2002
Clive Barker, the writer and director, has not made one regrettable step in his career. Lord of Illusions is a phenominal film unlike anything ever seen. Barker is, without fail, the only truely original and visionary man working in an otherwise lackluster industry. His films are bold, original, breathtaking and oddly quite beautiful. Lord of Illusions does not disappoint. The slithering plot is engaging, dramatic, frightening and indeed morbid spinning a tale of a detective who has a lingering tie to the darkside. This is an adult nightmare and is not intended for younger audiances at all. It is intelligent, opulant, impressive and twisted. Georgeous and repulsive at the same time. Though Hellraiser and Nightbreed are wonderful in and of themselves, it is Lord of Illusions that is Clive's masterwork... that is until Tortured Souls comes out.
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1/10
don't waste your time or money
liderc11 November 2001
I don't know anything about clive barker, except that he has the reputation to be a good horror writer.

When I bought the movie, I expected it to be some kind of clever atmospheric movie making advantage of a lot of illusion, plot twists etc. I got quite the opposite. This

movie is boring, has a dull conventional plot, is badly directed and photographed and features a lot of strange, bad actors. The plot seems to function only as excuse to present the usual splatter fx mixed with some really bad digital fx like the "folded" fire figure in the chapel. A good director might have gotten out something of the plot, but Barker seems to be as bad in directing as in scriptwriting, so the movie is made like one of these tv-junk movies like "Buffy". Avoid it.
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2/10
Like watching a train wreck without the suspense.
jmitchell-298 October 2006
Some experienced actors in this one that should return their paychecks. The writing seemed to come from a couple of preteens, and the director was phoning it in between tee shots. The effects were prehistoric by the standards of the day, and it never seemed to end. There were three story lines going on there and 2 weren't resolved in any manner. I kept waiting for the closing credits, but I couldn't stop watching it because I was fascinated with how BAD it was. I gave it a 2 only because I didn't stop watching it until it ended. If you have insomnia an it's on at 3AM, go ahead and watch it (Like me). Maybe you'll get lucky and it will put you to sleep. Don't rent it. Don't record it. If you see it in the bargain bin, leave it there. Other than that it was OK.
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5/10
The Worst Barker Film Ever Made
TheRedDeath3027 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
There are quite a few things going for this movie that attracted me to it and should have added up to a movie that I loved. First, I'm a big fan of Clive Barker. I love his aesthetic. I love the mythology that he creates in his works. I feel like his vision pulls the curtain back on Hell's fiery gates, just a bit, and creates these wonderful, demonic fairy tales full of infernal imagery. The subject matter also intrigues me. Like all geeks with a penchant for the fantastic, I enjoy magic and illusion, but even more I like movies and books that explore that thin line between illusion and magic and the possibility that perhaps there is real magic. Of course, it's not a far stretch from that sort of magic into occult territory, either. As a horror movie lover, I have a natural affinity for things dealing with dark magic, as well. The combination of all of these could have created something that I would have put up there as an instant classic, but sadly this movie is completely forgettable.

This is probably the least "Barker-ish" of any Barker adaptation I have seen. What I mean by that is that it is mostly devoid of any of that aesthetic that I was speaking of earlier. Movies like HELLRAISER, NIGHTBREED or CANDYMAN all feel like part of a large mythos, like all of them could have existed in the same world. There are very similar visual strands in those movies, even though one of them wasn't even directed by Barker. This movie is largely lacking any of that imagery. Except for the prologue and climax, we rarely get anything diabolical. It feels like it could have been the work of any old horror writer. While some may praise for deviating from his norm, this isn't what I come to the House of Barker for.

Even the actual magic in the movie is somewhat of a letdown. I really enjoyed the centerpiece scene where Swann is killed during his magic show. I wanted to see more of that sort of thing. They spend a lot of time talking about how these characters had crossed the line from illusion to real magic, but they seemed to know two tricks, levitation and fire. I'd at least expect enough effects to give me a true sense of power. Hell, even Harry Potter had better tricks than this.

Those were my expectations, though, so it's maybe not fair to judge this movie by how much it met those expectations. The real problem is that this movie just goes nowhere. It sets us up with a great opening scene, full of action and effects that seemed like this could turn into something memorable, but it dies quickly, mired down in a half-baked detective noir that is as predictable as it is uninteresting. Some part of that blame lies in Scott Bakula who's just not believable in this role, at all. He's supposed to be a hardened PI with one foot in the world of the occult, almost a John Constantine (comic books) type figure. Instead, Bakula just can't shake his wholesome image. Even when he swears it feels like elementary school kids trying out a word for the first time. Then, they inject a phony romance angle that just feels crammed in an insincere.

There are some great effects shots that still work very well and then there are some real doozys, like the CGI polygons that look so very dated 20 years later. What I saw is the Director's cut, which was probably more of a mistake because it was just too long and in need of editing.

If you've never seen anything by Barker before, do yourself a favor and go watch HELLRAISER. If you want a great movie about pushing magic to its' edge, watch Christopher Nolan's THE PRESTIGE.
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6/10
Magic?
Paul Celano (chelano)9 October 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.
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Revolting tripe...and that's its good side
rinzai25 October 2003
Let's see: badly directed, badly plotted, badly acted (because that's all you can do with the material at hand), what's left?

It has the pacing and narrative structure of a breathless retelling of a night spent at the wrestling matches, told by a sleep-deprived twelve-year-old. It's always been evident that Clive Barker can't write...now we find out he can't direct, either. Maybe next we'll find he can't produce [no pun intended]. (Wonder why he was directing? Because no reputable director would touch the project.)

How cheesy is it? Well, the villain, our Devil of the piece, is named "Nix." Puh-leeze. Is that clever? NO.

Obviously Barker has some psychological problems to work out, but I can't for the life of me figure out why WE have to be part of the therapy. Stop reading the books, stop watching the movies, and maybe--just maybe--he'll go away.

One can only hope.
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This is not TheLast Illusion
Gavin Dobbs8 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
What the &@#% is this @$&%!?!? First off, I have always loved Clive Barker films more perhaps than any other author in the genre because the books are primarily kept in line with the stories and maintain a strong visual representation to his original vision. Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Dread, and Books of Blood all while suffering changes, maintained the vision.

This movie... this movie does not in any shape of the imagination. The first problem I have is with the way characters are portrayed. Butterfield is transformed form a high powered attorney to a homosexual sadomasochist looking thing, Swann is portrayed as this young 90s hipster looking thing rather than a man that that woman he's seducing at the beginning of the novella comments that she prefers men 20 years younger than, Dorotheia is a child who was saved from cult activities rather than a prostitute, and there are just so many things wrong with Valentine (like the lack of him being a demon) that I don't want to start.

Then we have the problem with the movie itself. The idea of "cremate Swann before the Gulfs can tear his soul apart" story of the novella was very good and very compelling. It was a fascinating read that I didn't want to let go of until it done. This travesty with Nix, and cults, and scenes taken from "Sins of the Father" was a jumbled mess that stomped all over the plot points which made the original story so good.

My belief? Read the novella and watch this merely as a companion piece. Because quite honestly it comes down to this: Stephen King had the ABC miniseries It that debased the work it came from... well Clive Barker has this movie to his credit.
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7/10
An underrated Barker's movie
dr_praetorius3526 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I think Clive Barker deserve more credits than is usually given to him. Take, for example, this movie, "Lord of Illusions". Many people and critics disliked the film... And after viewing it, I must say that I disagree with most of them. "Lord of Illusions" might not be another "Hellraiser", but it is far from a stinker, eh! (We should add that Hellraiser is, anyway, a tough act to follow and, sadly for Barker, most people compare the rest of his oeuvre with this masterpiece rather than analyzing the movies for what they actually are.) Less darker than the aforementioned "Hellraiser" or the underrated "Nightbreed", it have enough atmosphere and suspense in it to maintain interest up to the end credits. The movie begins in a typical Barker fashion: a cabin in the Mojave desert, its walls full of satanic grafitis, a so-called magician preaching the End of the world to an audience that clearly drink its words... and a series of instruments of torture (to bind the said-magician) that could easily been stolen from a bunch of Cenobites!!!!!!! What might distract and somehow leave some viewer hungry is the fact that right after such a killer opening, Barker set the story in a very shining Los Angeles and very few fantastic elements until the climax. It makes "Lors of Illusions" clearly one of his less dark movies.

But like his other flicks (including the very excellent "Candyman" which he wrote and produced), Barker have created a very original movie... It may not be perfect, far from it, but anyone that like to see some freshness in their horror movies can pick up any Barker's film, including "Lord of Illusions". And Barker did a good job as a director...

Oh! And there is a very beautiful Famke Jennsen in her pre-X-men era... As usual, she's superb...
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Are we too desensitized?
astrocreep696 February 2001
I'm a new member and this is my first ever comment.I decided to give my opinion because quite frankly,one of my two favorite artists/writers/directors(The other is David Lynch)has just been receiving too much negative criticism these past few years. After the success of the extremely frightening "Hellraiser",fans of the horror-genre immediately tagged Clive Barker as the next Stephen King, which to me is so predictable of this "fast-food" culture that makes or breaks aspiring,creative talent reducing them to what they think is their best work and judging all that is released afterwards to that work. When "Lord Of Illusions" finally hit the screen,I was so anxious to watch this artistic visionary's latest masterpiece.I was pleased to see that Clive went on a somewhat different direction than his past work.It combined elements of film-noir and horror.While many film-goers were expecting a son-of-Pinhead,I found the Nix character very interesting in that he was more realistic than the leather-clad Cenobites.He was scary in the fact that he had this mental hold on his followers resembling David Koresh in a way.Hell,they knelt down on shards of glass! Anyway,while I was viewing,I wasn't really that scared.Not even mildly repulsed,well except for the guy missing a lip!And I think Clive knew that the same audience of Hellraiser were going to be slightly desensitized so he probably did not even try to simply throw slabs of bloody gore on the screen and try to devise a plot out of the mess. Instead,Clive Barker opted for a more cerebral story while also having it's share of gory moments.The result is a movie experience unlike any other.Although Scott Bakula's performance leaves much to be desired,his portrayal of Harry D'Amour is acceptable and we also get to see Famke Janssen just before she reached stardom.Although the ending should have been a little better,this was definitely a step forward in Clive Barker's career.

Three and a half out of four.
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1/10
This will not be easy...
david-34523 September 2001
I love Clive Barker, the man, his fiction, his first two films. He is an important figure for me. That's why it's going to be hard for me to write this review. Clive, don't take this personally, but Lord of Illusions is truly one of the worst motion pictures I have seen in quite some time. What in the world happened? Lord of Illusions has very little to do with the short story (The Last Illusion) that it is based on. It's basic premise is expanded upon in order to make the film run feature length. That would be no problem if the film were any good, but sadly it's not.

There is so much wrong with this movie. First of all, most of the cast is a walking disaster. Why Scott Bakula? This man whines his way through the whole film like a big baby. This is supposed to be a hard boiled, film noir detective? The man is a whiner. How on Earth did Quantum Leap last as long as it did with this reedy voiced non actor in the lead role? Famke Janssen should go back to modeling. She has the emotional range of a piece of ply wood. For that matter, ply wood could have done a better job and brought more sensuality to the role! And who in the world is the little weeny who plays Swann? The casting director does not earn his money with this film. The special effects are anything but special. The much hyped "Origami Man" effect is poorly integrated into the action and looks too much like a computer effect, which it is. But when it is all said and done, the vast majority of the blame lies on Clive Barker's shoulders. He was the visionary, the writer/director and he failed in his job. The screen play is a botched mess, the pace is plodding, the film is simply a failure on nearly every level. Clive, you can't blame studio interference this time. It's your fault. Plain and simple.

Even though I was let down by this film (to put it mildly), I still wish that Barker had not given up on making movies. Hellraiser and Nightbreed are wonderful, two out of three isn't bad, so give it another shot Clive. Just next time cast better people and work harder on the little details.
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6/10
weak special effects
SnoopyStyle3 November 2014
In the Mojave Desert, practitioner of the dark arts Nix (Daniel von Bargen) leads a cult and has kidnapped a girl named Dorothea. His apprentice Swann (Kevin J. O'Connor) leads former cult members to rescue the girl. Nix can't be killed but Swann binds him and buries him. Thirteen years later, Harry D'Amour (Scott Bakula) is a NY private eye specializing in the occult. He travels to L.A. on a case where he stumbles onto Swann, and his now wife Dorothea (Famke Janssen) as followers of Nix try to find the burial site and free Nix.

This is a fine Clive Barker story. It has a compelling plot. Scott Bakula is good as the lead. The major drawback is the weak special effects and some weak directing from Barker. The CGI is pretty bad and some get really cheesy. The Nix apparition looks horrible. The final battle has some good parts and some bad parts. The makeup is mostly good. I like the henchman character Butterfield but I wish that he be played by the same actor in both time frame. I don't understand why there are two actors playing that character.
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