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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look75%
Average: 6.25%
Pretty Bad: 6.25%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 10 user ratings

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Lord of Illusions
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by Justin Helmer

"Fun movie...not overly original but fun."
4 stars

People always freak out about getting the Ďdeathí card in a Tarot reading, especially in movies the card speaks of the literal death of one of the characters. Itís a nice solid, visual cue and it looks really spiffy. The plain fact of the matter is death is the least of your problems as these things go. Death in the context of the cards refers only (99 times out 100) to profound change, as in the case of death being part of the life cycle. (If you are the kind of person who puts any stock in this kind of stuff at allÖ) No, as far as the cards go, the real bugaboo is the thirteen of swords. Doesnít sound nearly as impressive does it?

This is a minor detail, but itís one that speaks volumes about someone who knows what it is heís talking about. The disconnect between the public idea of what magic is, and the world of the people who actually practice it, is the meat of ďLord of Illusions.Ē Couched in a classic film noir setup; Clive Barker puts together a world where the real magicians donít do card tricks. Any illusionist worth his salt will tell you flatly that the supernatural doesnít enter in to what they do. For the most part it is, as Han Solo once put it, a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

Scott Bakula plays a New York (Of course!) private detective named Harry DíAmour. Okay, if the clichťs in that last sentence send you into convulsions, itís possible that this isnít the movie for you. We are talking about a fairly high level of suspension of disbelief here, after all, so this might not be your cuppa. DíAmour finds himself in Los Angles through a series of plot contrivances that really donít bear mentioning. Suffice it to say that he ends up investigating the mysterious deaths of a number of people who were involved in a Ďdark magicí cult.

Here is the place where Iím probably reading too much into things, the cult bears more than a passing resemblance to the Charlie Manson family. I canít decide if Barker is being lazy and taking the path of least resistance, or working in terms of archetypes. Iíve read enough of his fiction to know that in all honesty it could be either. Certainly the hard-boiled detective fiction well has been tapped more than a few times over the years. Yet in a strange way all of it taken together works for me. Even Famke Jansen as the mysterious woman with a dark past comes across. (This in spite of the fact that her plot twist is glaringly obvious if you are paying any kind of attention.) It could be that Iím just responding well to two of my personal favorite genres meshed together, Iím also a fan of the Hellblazer comic series so take it for what itís worth.

There isnít all that much in terms of scares here, if you are mainly a fan of horror for its own sake most of whatís here probably wonít impress you. There are some decent shocks along the way but as the film goes along I found myself focusing more on the thriller aspects of things. The head bad guy Nix (Couldnít they have just called him Olí Ned and gotten it over with?) didnít inspire much in the way of fear. In all honesty he does not look evil so much as slovenly. It seems an odd choice to make the leader of your evil magic cult look like a working class shulb.

For all of this I enjoyed this dark little tale, Bakula displays a lop sided charm that kept making me think of Bruce Campbell. Heís just enough of a smart-ass to keep the proceedings from collapsing from the sheer silliness of it all. Lord of Illusions is a flawed movie to be sure, but itís a fun genre piece nonetheless. Hollywood is working on a film based on ĎHellblazerí tentatively titled Constantine. From what Iíve gathered, there gonna fuck it up, unless something changes in the planning. When they do, Lord of Illusions is the movie Iíll be looking to for a taste of what could have been.

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originally posted: 03/21/03 04:38:15
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User Comments

8/24/12 roscoe bad 2 stars
1/12/09 Adrian BAD ACID TRIP: The Movie. Gotta love the sexy Fanke...and Barker of course. 5 stars
9/04/06 Indrid Cold Some interesting ideas make it a cut above most horror. Much is left unexplained though. 3 stars
7/03/06 JM Synth An Intelligent, complex horror film 4 stars
5/30/04 Verta This movie kicked ass 5 stars
4/11/04 American Slasher Goddess Barker's best film since Hellraiser. 4 stars
4/14/03 Kyle Guilty pleasure. 4 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby An original and facinating Barker film. Intelligently rendered. 4 stars
1/27/03 Tickle Me and I'll Fucking Kill You Cool makeup & a satisfying degree of gore. Clive Barker's one of the better horror meisters 4 stars
1/27/03 Charles Tatum Watchable 4 stars
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  25-Aug-1995 (R)



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