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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.
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on 15 April 2017
Very underrated film from Clive Barker pleasantly surprised there's a director's cut added.
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on 4 September 2017
Awesome film
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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

SYNOPSIS

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

DVD DETAILS

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
Extras: 2/5

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.
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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.
Years latter...
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.
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on 12 February 2014
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.
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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.
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on 25 September 2016
( Director's Cut DVD review)
Before I first saw this movie, I was expecting this to be an almost by the numbers cinematic adaptation of Clive Barker's short story, so I was pleasantly surprised when it reveals itself to keep a lot of the characters, but they now exist within a completely new story written by Clive Barker himself. Clive Barker is an artist and here he paints a thoroughly unnerving canvas with his beloved characters. Scott Bakula makes for a suitably world-weary Harry D'Amour and I wish we could've seen him as Clive Barker's gumshoe in other movie adaptations. In this Director's Cut, you get to witness more revealing character beats and excellent special effects. Picture quality and sound are good, while Clive Barker's director's commentary track adds insight into his labour of love.
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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.
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on 7 August 2015
Almost everyone talks of Illusion as some Lost gem or Underrated Classic,well unfortunately its Box Office takings showed you how underrated it was.It Bombed!.It may have found a new audience on the Home Entertainment market but I have to saying that I found the Movie very Mis-cast and Very,Very Slow and dare I say boring.I have now tried Three times to watch Lord Of Illusion and have found Myself switching it off before the end on every occasion. Nothing like the classic some would have you believe.
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