Tuesday, September 18, 2012

He's Not Pulling A Rabbit Out of His Hat

Despite joining so many of its fellow 90s films in having that strange "Made for TV" look and feel, Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions sports some quality visuals and never fails to be entertaining. There is also a fairly decent amount of gore in this movie, as even in the opening act a gruesome and violent ceremony is conducted, one that had shades of the first scenes of Mario Bava's classic 1960 film Black Sunday. Which is even more notable considering that this movie has shades of Bava, even though Barker is able to go far more above the pale and show much more than Bava ever was-the limitations of Bava's budget and the ratings board at the time resulted in Bava deciding to imply so many things that are shown in blunt fashion these days. Anyways, a group of people decide to put an end to an evil cult leader's scheme to, in the evil cult man's own words, "Murder the world." This wouldn't be a good thing of course, and the group at first thinks they've succeeded. They end up being wrong, naturally.

Really some of this movie is rather silly, and the special effects are quite dated, so its good that the film has a reliable cast in Scott Bakula as the wary, boozing private eye way in over his head, Kevin J. O'Connoras an illusionist harboring a dark secret, and Famke Janssen as his pretty yet haunted wife. Much of the movie actually has that creep feel that gets under your skin, and even in daylight it gives the viewer the feeling that something terrible could happen at any moment and time. This is the after effects of seeing a man with multiple knives jammed into his body, or witnessing the fiery, disturbing resurrection of a man long thought to be dead. What's crazy about this movie is that Baker could have gone with even weirder material, or drummed things up even further to eleven-one could even argue that Baker doesn't go far enough, although perhaps he was limited by the MPAA in this case.

Lost in these criticisms though is the fact that Lord of Illusions is, by 90s horror film standards anyways, quite good. Bakula does a fine job of carrying the movie, and his character is cool enough that its a shame there were not sequels featuring him battling more sinister forces of darkness. This film gets additional points for being tightly paced, and the final scene is odd enough to be given more than a passing thought, even if it was just thrown in there for a potential "Is this the end?" moment. Too bad that Barker did not make more movies, and I now am interested in reading his stories and novels because of this film, so if that was another goal of his then good job well done. 83

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