15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2004
Losing the strait ahead structure of his first two films Barker draws out his short story "The Last Illusion" (Books of Blood VI aka Cabal) and makes an intriguing prelude to "The Great and Secret Show" Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the D'Amour's second story will ever see the screen.
The story centers around an occult led by nix, a petty demon-like man with some real powers, but little ambition. After he kidnaps a 12 yr old girl, his best learner, Swan, and a small band of followers who see the error of there ways mount a rescue, they seal Nix in an iron mask and bury him in the dessert.
Swan is married to the girl, Dorthea, now a woman, but Nix's followers are ready for the resurrection. Fearing for her safety Swan fakes his own death hoping that when nix returns he'd leave Dorthea alone.
Harry D'Amour, a Brooklyn PI is brought in to determine the possibility of Nix's return and protect Dorthea. Of course D'Amour and Dorthea have heat as she admits nearly immediately that she loved Swan but was not in-love with him. The not-really-dead Swan complicates his own plans by trying to scare Harry off.
Eventually everything falls apart for Swan, his woman is in Harry's arms, his enemies are after him, and Nix is after his soul.
The showdown ensues and is much more satisfying than Hellraiser's non-conclusion.
There's some nifty visuals and enough gore in the superior directors cut. Mostly there's a real feel for fans of the horror-fantasy novels, Weaveworld, Great and Secret Show, Galilee, that Barker is so favored for. This is the only film that feels like his books and feels like it's own world, complete and fully realized.
The film is a bit overly stylized and Barker's stagnant camera and unimaginative set-ups do little to invite the eye in. A better 5.1 mix would have helped sell this as well and the DVD lacks a HD transfer so the contrast and details are a bit grainy.
Over all a solid film that could have benefited from better editing, camera work and a better DVD presentation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 December 2014
REVIEWED VERSION: 1998 MGM US DVD
Director: Clive Barker
Cast: Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O'Connor, Famke Janssen, Daniel von Bargen, Barry Del Sherman, Joel Swetow, Vincent Schiavelli
Production: US 1995
Harry D'Amour (Scott Bakula) is a private investigator who is hired as a bodyguard by Dorothea Swann (Famke Janssen), wife of the famous illusionist Philip Swann (Kevin J. O'Connor), who rescued her from a cult that follows Nix (Daniel von Bargen), who calls himself The Puritan and was killed by Swann 13 years ago. The cult supporting Nix years ago is back, preparing for Nix's resurrection. During a show, one of Swan's illusions goes horribly wrong, killing him. D'Amour starts to investigate...
THE PROS & CONS
LORD OF ILLUSIONS is Clive Barker's most underrated work, based on Barker's short story THE LAST ILLUSION. What destroyed the film were the 12 minutes of cuts imposed on the film not only by the dreadful MPAA, but also by the studio for "pacing". These cuts are fully restored in the Director's Cut of the film.
The films special effects were groundbreaking at its time and still look great by today's standards. There are some great gore effects that will NOT disappoint HELLRAISER fans...
Great actors all along: Scott Bakula was a great cast decision for the role of Harry D'Amour, Kevin J. O'Connor as Philip Swan, as well as Famke Jannsen as Dorothea work well too. Next to Bakula the best cast member has got to be Daniel von Bargen, who plays the diabolical Nix so memorable, he makes the ultimate bad guy. And be on the lookout for the late Vincent Schiavelli in a cameo!
Barker's direction is superb, he brilliantly combines horror with film noir and has his own style fully exercised. It is great that he got to direct his own works, this is THE LAST ILLUSION as it is supposed to be. I am very grateful for the Director's Cut. Well-paced and very exciting from beginning to end!
Simon Boswell's score is quite eerie, catching the mood of the film perfectly.
Overall I highly recommend LORD OF ILLUSIONS for Clive Barker fans and horror-thriller fans alike, I liked this one a lot better than NIGHTBREED, but it does not beat Barker's best, HELLRAISER.
ON A SIDE NOTE
- Clive Barker picked out Famke Janssen personally for the role of Dorothea
- composer Christopher Young (HELLRAISER) was supposed to compose the score to LORD OF ILLUSIONS but was replaced by Simon Boswell due to scheduling conflicts
Feature running time: 120:59 mins. (Director's Cut)
Rating: Unrated (MPAA) / 18 (BBFC)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 / 16:9
Audio: English 5.1
Subtitles: English, French
Extras: Audio Commentary, Isolated Musical Score, Deleted Scenes with optional commentary (3:13), Theatrical Red Band Trailer (2:36), 6 page booklet
Region: 1/NTSC (locked)
Picture quality: 3/5
Audio quality: 3/5
Considering the age of the DVD (1998), the picture and audio quality are quite good. It has standard extras for that time, nothing special.
Blu-Ray buyers beware! The UK Blu-Ray/DVD edition by 101 films only features the inferior Theatrical Cut on Blu-Ray, the Director's Cut is only available on DVD. The US Shout! Factory Blu-Ray release feature the Director's Cut on Blu-Ray but is Region A LOCKED.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I prefer not to review products I don't own - so please forgive me.
However, I am doing so here so that other buyers can be aware of something. I pre-ordered this title as soon as it became available on blu-ray; but I cancelled it yesterday.
The reason is that it's only the Theatrical Version that is on blu-ray here. The far superior Director's Cut is only on DVD.
This may appeal to some purists; but this is one occasion where the Director's Cut really DID improve the film and the Theatrical cut pales in comparison.
I'm not saying people shouldn't buy it - I just want people to be fully informed. I received an email from 101 Films who confirmed that they were unable to obtain an HD copy of the Director's Cut.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2014
Buyers ought to be aware that the information on the packaging for this Blu-ray contains a lot of errors, and that (according to IMDB.com) there have been three different runtime versions of this film. They list 109 minute for the theatrical release, 119 minutes for a "director's cut" and also a 121 minute "unrated director's cut". On the back cover of the 1998 "Unrated Director's Cut" (MGM, Region 1, 24fps prog scan, 121 minutes), the first item listed under "Special Features" is: <"Contains footage not seen in theatres or as part of the "Director's Cut">
This Blu-ray is definitely the 109 minute "theatrical release" - and it is not likely to be the "definitive" high definition version for long. On 14th February 2014 Clive Barker made the following announcement on his Facebook page (which was later confirmed by USA distributor Scream Factory who anticipate a mid-2014 release of a definitive collectors edition): "The other movie of mine that Shout is preparing a definitive new edition of (I've just seen the art-work for the DVD. It's superb ) is indeed LORD OF ILLUSIONS, as many of you have already guessed. The edition will have both cuts of the film, interviews, analysis, a profile of D'Amour traced through all his literary and cinematic journeys and Nix knows what else...It's going to be a whole new vision of D'Amour's world, all the way up to, and including, THE SCARLET GOSPELS. My love to you all, Clive Barker"
I own the 121 minute 1998 "unrated director's cut" DVD so I've been able to compare it to the Blu-ray edition and make a confident positive recommendation for the quality of the Blu-ray. The 101 Films Blu-ray is brighter and has significantly greater detail - however after closely comparing the two in "A-B" fashion on my PC, I'm suspecting that the darkness of the DVD was might have been an intended element of the style of the film - and that the brightness of the Blu-ray edition might be due to the clever new high definition transfer technology (Clive Barker would know).
The Blu-ray is AVC encoded 1920x1080 24p, letterboxed slightly to the original film aspect of 1.85:1 and with 48kHz 16 bit PCM stereo audio - whereas the 1998 "Unrated Director's Cut" edition is 720x480 24p anamorphic 1.77:1 (no letterboxing) with a choice of three audio tracks: Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround for the isolated music track, and Dolby Digital 1.0 for Clive Barker's commentary.
I was surprised that there was only the Blu-ray disc, in a single disc case, even though the cover states that it ought to contain a second disc - the "Director's Cut DVD". Amazon UK lists a "101 Films" DVD version as a separate item. The Blu-ray cover also claims that the film is just 87 minutes (when it's really 109) and that it is in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, when the only soundtrack is PCM stereo (only).
I will be hanging on to my 1998 "Unrated Director's Cut" NTSC anamorphic widescreen DVD for all the extras that you do not get with this Blu-ray - the three above-mentioned audio options, an 8 page booklet, 32 chapters (about 4 times as many as the Blu-ray) and for the 12 minutes of extra material which does significantly contribute to the story.
If you loved the experience of Lord Of Illusions in the cinema, then you will love this 2014 101 Films Blu-ray edition. If you want all the extras though, you will have to buy the "unrated director's cut" edition DVD - or wait till mid-2014 and see what the "Scream Factory" USA collectors edition Blu-ray has to offer.
If someone told you that Clive Baker had written and directed a noir thriller... then "Lord of Illusions" is exactly the kind of movie that you'd expect him to produce. In other words, Barker's third full-length movie -- adapted from his short story "The Last Illusion" -- fulfills a lot of the tropes of a hard-boiled mystery, but interwoven with shadowy magic, fleshy gore and pure nightmare fuel. Oh, and Scott Bakula as a detective with a special knack for the supernatural.
Thirteen years ago, a group of friends broke into the compound of the evil cult leader Nix (Daniel von Bargen) to free a young girl he was planning to sacrifice. Swann (Kevin J. O'Connor), a former acolyte of Nix's, manages to kill him by sealing his head in a steel mask, but not before Nix screws with his head.
In the present day (aka, 1995), private detective Harry D'Amour (Bakula) is in the dumps after exorcising a demon from a young boy. I know that's what I call private detectives for: exorcisms. A friend of his sends him on a mundane, easy insurance-fraud case in Los Angeles, hoping that some sunshine will improve Harry's mood... but Harry almost immediately stumbles across a gruesome murder committed by two of Nix's followers.
Then Harry is hired by Dorothea (Famke Jansson), Swann's beautiful wife. Swann has done quite well for himself, becoming a famous illusionist... but that night, he dies in an escape trick gone horribly wrong, and Harry encounters the same thugs who committed the previous murder backstage. As he tries to figure out who has killed Swann and his former cohorts, Harry soon realizes that dark magic is involved in this case -- and it might just bring Nix back from the grave.
"Lord of Illusions" has a lot of the tropes of a standard noir thriller, like you would expect from Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett -- you have a witty, world-weary private eye, a beautiful woman, a long-ago crime that everyone is hiding, and so on. But this noir just happens to involve a cult of crazed Manson-style worshipers, blood-soaked magic, and a bad guy who literally wants to murder every person on the planet.
And where most directors would have to work to unite "bloody horror" and "film noir," Barker makes it feel very seamless. His direction veers between a complicated murder mystery (stabbings, suicides) and sorcery (burning specters) without any real divide between them, and Harry never has any skepticism to work past.
It also has one of the most shocking intros to appear in a full-length movie, since the downfall of Nix almost feels like a short film on its own (although I'm not sure why there is a mandrill in these scenes). After that, Barker swathes the movie in a sense of creeping horror, the feeling that something twisted and rotting is creeping into the mundane world. In the meantime, he also gives us lots of gore, including people repeatedly stabbed, shot, burned, and a guy impaled on a massive steel pipe -- not to mention the hideous quicksand scene.
He also creates some eerie, skin-crawling dialogue ("You ever watched a man die? If you watch very closely, you can sometimes see the soul escaping") and some true nightmare fuel. "Flesh Through A God's Eyes" is a prime example, where the person sees the skin of those around him split and slough off, revealing thready, slimy monstrosities in the void within.
Scott Bakula gives a very solid performance as the supernatural detective -- Harry has no special powers, just an unfortunate attraction to the supernatural. So he has the weary, worn-down feel of a man who has seen too much, yet he is still noble enough to not be corrupted by Nix. He has good chemistry with Janssen as the not-very-fatale femme, who married Swann out of gratitude but falls in love with Harry; O'Connor gives a skittery, nihilistic performance as Swann; and von Bargen is absolutely nightmarish as the casually sadistic villain, who wants to blast the world into a ruined cinder.
This edition is particularly worth having, since it contains both the R-rated theatrical version and the unrated director's cut. They aren't dramatically different, but the director's cut flows slightly better -- there are some character introduction scenes ("Where'd the flower go?"), more gore, a full-on love scene rather than just the implied sex, and some further fleshing-out of Swann's motives. It also looks like some of the special effects may have been cleaned up.
"Lord of Illusions" is a spellbindingly sharp, tightly-written story that seamlessly blends film noir with the dark, gruesome horror that Clive Barker is best known for. It just leaves you sad that he didn't direct more films.
on 17 April 2015
Clive Barker is one of today's most revered and respected writers of Horror and has written some amazing screen plays of his own novels which have translated wonderfully to the big and small screens respectively. The cast are not Hollywood "A Lister's" but performances are excellent all around. "Lord of Illusion" is a story that talks about the hidden world of Magic, Demons, Gods and the transcendence of the human condition. The story is strong, the roles well acted and the special effects believable. The characters are so well written and their interactions are rich and complex. From the first few moments of the film you invest in the characters and their foibles and are drawn into the complex tapestry of unfolding events. This is not a film for the faint hearted or children as there are moments of violence, gore and spiritual darkness that can have a negative and lasting effect on sensitive viewers. To truly enjoy Clive Barker's work you need an open mind and a deep love for the Supernatural and Horror film genres. Once again, if you are of a sensitive mind set and are easily offended by irreligious and heretical content then this film is not for you. If however the dark side of the universe floats your boat then this is the perfect film for you. Buy this DVD and be thrilled by a truly dark story.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2004
Oh what can I say? I know this doesn't work, but I do enjoy it anyway, if only to try and pick through it to see how it could be salvaged.
I think the main problem is in the structure, Barker weirdly opens with a long flashback, giving away a good few twists up front and then has his hero trying to work out what happened, something we already know. Snipping out most of this - cutting straight to D'Amour, perhaps - maybe adding it in later on in some form or other, would have made the mystery aspect much stronger.
Still, it's good to see a film try and do something a bit different, and as Barker puts it, it's nice to see a horror movie more interested in the good guys than the iconic one-liner spitting baddies. This one does have a decent plot in there somewhere amidst the naff effects and hesitant performances, and is definately worth a watch, just to catch a glimpse of what it could have been.
on 4 January 2012
If you caught this partway through, its still quite clearly based on a book - there's large quantities of character/plot stuff, the stuff that often wouldn't get into films, and though I have never read the book, this doesn't appear to be watered down because it requires the audience to pay attention. Some information could be easily missed by those with relatively short attention spans.
Its only low point is being very long.
on 11 May 2014
A Very big thanks for the great quality of box and blu-ray. See you in next orders. :)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2015
there is no second disc and no directors' cut on DVD.