Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions

Lord of Illusions (1995) - IMDb

Day 30 of the NOFS podcast 31-day horror challenge has the theme of underrated. This was a hard one because I feel like a lot of movies that I like are underrated. My final choice is a movie that I feel is incredibly underrated and can be kind of hard to find. Lord of Illusion is my choice because it was and still is a confluence of my interests. What drew in 8-year-old me was Scott Bakula and the VHS cover. What has kept it in my mind ever since is all of that as well as my love for Clive Barker.

Lord of Illusions was written and directed by Clive Barker. It was based on the short story The Last Illusion by Clive Barker. This was Barker’s last movie as a director. I wish he had continued directing because this is probably his best shot movie. He took everything he learned in his previous movies, and it only makes the movie that much better. This was a movie that would have done really well at any time other than the mid90s. If something like it came out now I feel like it would be better received.

Lord of Illusions stars Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O’Connor, Famke Janssen, and Daniel Van Bargen. There are so many different performances in this movie that make it a captivating watch. Daniel Van Bargen’s performance really bookends the movie. He plays one of the most terrifying villains and its all because of his performance in the role. Scott Bakula does something that I’ve never seen him do in the movie. Before this I only knew him for Quantum Leap and since this, I’ve seen him in other roles, but this is a standout with it being horror.

Lord of Illusions follows Harry D’Amour as he gets into something way out of his depth. The movie starts in 1982 and is the catalyst of the main plot. Nix a powerful magician is stopped before he can go through with his planned sacrifice of a girl. He’s stopped by Swann and three other former followers. It switches to 13 years later in New York as Harry D’Amour accepts a job to go to Los Angeles for an insurance fraud investigation. He quickly gets involved in Swann’s life and apparent death. His investigation exposes truth that he wasn’t prepared for.

The practical effects are fantastic throughout the movie. Nix’s mask and his resurrected form are standouts, among the fantastic effects. There are also instances of early CG that while they look pretty goofy now back then they were state of the art. The stunts in this are top notch too. The music by Simon Boswell is great. His score works well with the movie to convey the proper emotions.

Lord of Illusions is an underrated movie that doesn’t get nearly as much love as I feel it deserves. It blends the genres of horror and noire to create a neo-noire movie that is captivating. I always get excited when I see that it’s on a streaming service, which is usually Amazon Prime Video. I give Lord of Illusions 9.5 Mandrills out of 10.

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