Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lord of Illusions (1995)

Clive Barker has always had a way with interesting ideas and his 1995 film Lord of Illusions is a fine example of him at his best.  Scott Bakula plays Harry D'Amour, a private investigator who goes to Los Angeles to investigate possible insurance fraud and ends up getting involved with a stage magician who uses real magic and his beautiful wife.  Said magician is Swann, played by Kevin J. O'Connor and his Famke (Goldeneye, X-Men) Janssen plays his wife Dorothea.

Swann used to be part of a death cult run by a nutter named Nix (Daniel von Bargen) who has legit magical powers and saw Swann as his protege.  In the opening fifteen minutes, we see Swann return to Nix's compound after leaving for a brief period and rescuing a young girl Nix was planning to sacrifice for more power before killing Nix and burying him in the desert.  Dorothea turns out to be the young girl Swann rescued and, as tends to be the case in this sort of movie, Nix isn't exactly 100% dead.

Lord of Illusions is an interesting, entertaining horror film with some nice film noir elements thrown in for flavor.  Actually, it might be the other way around but either way, Clive Barker made something pretty damn good here, for the most part  Scott Bakula is good as Harry; Famke Janssen and Kevin J. O'Connor are solid in their roles and Daniel von Bargen is a nicely creepy, low key villain.

The first two thirds of the movie are quite good, bordering on great though the film does falter during the last act when Nix is resurrected.  For starters, as soon as Nix is brought back he promptly kills his followers which is fine and the way he does it is nicely unpleasant (turning the floor into quicksand after making it rain indoors is pretty damn evil) but it is undercut somewhat with one of the followers rather hammily flipping him off as he dies.  It's a bad laugh and sort of takes one out of the moment.

Following that is the showdown with Swann, Nix and Harry which one would expect to be a real showstopper based on how Nix has been built up.  Sadly, it comes off as sort of lame as Nix simply gets into Harry's head briefly, menaces Dorothea and kills Swann.  His death is decent enough but for a guy who was built up as a potential world killer, it's a swing and a miss.

That aside, Lord of Illusions is worth a look for the first two thirds which nicely blend noir detective stories with horror.  Clive Barker is a talented writer and director and it would be nice to see another directorial effort from the man.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.