LORD OF ILLUSIONS
Review by Gordon Justesen
Bakula, Kevin J. OíConnor, Famke Janssen, Daniel Von Bargen
Director: Clive Barker
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Shout! Factory
Features: See Review
Length: 121 Minutes
Release Date: December 16, 2014
ďI was born to murder the world.Ē
Revisiting Lord of Illusions made me realize just how much horror movies in general are in need of more original visionaries like that of Clive Barker. His films went beyond the standard fare of the genre and offered something slightly unique. Even the gore in Barkerís work seemed like it was done in a different fashion.
This 1995 release has always held my interest since I first caught it on video years ago (remember those days?). It is quite an original blending of supernatural horror and 1940Ďs style film noir, which is the exact approach Barker was going for. Itís far from a perfect film, and goes in many different directions by its conclusion, but it remains a potent and original horror piece that creeps under the skin in a way few movies are capable of, and I do consider it one of the writer/directorís best works to date.
The film centers around a magician named Swann (Kevin J. OíConnor), who has become a world renowned illusionist. In order to become this powerful, though, he had to perform a ritual on the man who trained him, a mad magician known as Nix (Daniel Von Bargen). Thirteen years ago, Swann incapacitated Nix through a device that would have made Jigsaw from Saw envious.
Enter Harry DíAmour (Scott Bakula), a private detective assigned to look into Swann and his illusion practice. He ends up witnessing Swann being murdered during a stage show when one of his tricks goes horribly awry. Or was Swannís murder a magic trick itself?
Whatever the case, DíAmour soon finds himself plunged deep in a supernatural underworld. It is there where a cult that worshiped Nix as a God are attempting to resurrect him, thus unleashing hell on Earth. DíAmour also finds himself drawn to Swannís beautiful wife, Dorothea, played by the super beautiful Famke Janssen (looking especially super beautiful in her breakthrough film role).
This movie, probably more so than any work of Clive Barkerís, definitely delivers a wow factor in terms a gore laden finale. But itís not gore for the sake of gore, as Barker unveils a display of supernatural forces that result in some horrific images that will stick with you for a while after the filmís end. Letís just say that if I wanted to become a magician, Iím sure one viewing of this movie would have cured me of that!
Barkerís Directorís Cut is a much stronger version of the film. It adds in more than ten minutes, allowing for nice character development to help elevate this above your basic run of the mill horror fare. Then again, Clive Barker was always superb in doing just that.
This is a most terrific Blu-ray handling from Shout Factory! Both the detective noir setting and dark magic underworld environment show off tremendously well in the 1080p. I was most surprised to find that the supposed dated visual effects didnít look half as bad as I was expecting this time around. Colors are especially well delivered, too!
By far, one of the very best audio tracks Iíve heard on any Shout Factory release. The DTS HD mix accompanies this supernatural horror piece extravagantly well, with ambient sounds playing off to tremendous effect, as do the sounds associated with the various scenes involving magic. And Simon Boswellís thunderous music score truly serves as a presentation high point!
This Shout Factory Blu-ray release actually features two Blu-ray discs; one featuring just the Theatrical Cut of the film, and the other containing the much preferred Directorís Cut and all of the extras. Thereís a most fantastic commentary with Clive Barker, a twenty minute featurette on the making of the film as well as an hour long documentary on the production. Thereís also an interview with storyboard artist Martin Mercer and Deleted Scenes with optional commentary from Barker.
Lord of Illusions, like most of Clive Barkerís work, is a cut above the normal horror movie fare. It offers something most original in both story and grotesqueness. Shout Factory has done this film right with a grand Blu-ray release!