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Blu-ray Review: Lord Of Illusions
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Lord of the Illusions Blu-ray review

Lord of Illusions
Blu-ray (Collector’s Edition)
Director: Clive Barker
Screenwriter: Clive Barker
Cast: Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O’Connor, Famke Janssen, J. Trevor Edmond, Daniel von Bargen, Joseph Latimore
Scream Factory
Rated R | 109 / 121 Minutes
Release Date: December 16, 2014

Written and directed by best-selling author Clive Barker (Nightbreed, Hellraiser), 1995’s Lord of Illusions is a supernatural thriller that stars Scott Bakula, Famke Janssen, Kevin J. O’Connor, and Daniel von Bargen.

After investigating an insurance fraud case in Los Angeles, hard-boiled detective Harry D’Amour (Bakula, Quantum Leap) is approached by Dorothea (Janssen, X-Men), a beautiful woman who believes that her husband is in danger. Dorothea is married to Philip Swann (O’Connor), a stage performer whose astonishing illusions have wowed audiences worldwide.

Like Hugh Jackman’s Robert Angier in The Prestige, Swann has found fame by disguising real magic as stage illusions. Swann’s manipulation of the dark arts has made him enemies of a religious cult who wish to sacrifice the magician and resurrect their leader, a sorcerer known as “The Puritan” (von Bargen).

In order to protect Swann and Dorothea, Harry must infiltrate a sinister underworld of sorcerers and enchantresses. He is thrust into a nightmare of deceit, murder, and magic – a place where the truth behind the trick is more terrifying than any mere illusion.

Distributed by Scream Factory, this Lord of Illusions (Collector’s Edition) Blu-ray includes both theatrical and director’s cuts of Barker’s film, with a new high-definition transfer. Like the recent Nightbreed Blu-ray release, Barker asserts that the director’s cut is the definitive version, as the theatrical release did not represent his true vision.

Adapted from Barker’s Books of Blood Vol. 6 short story, “The Last Illusion,” Lord of Illusions is an attempt to fuse magic and fantasy with the author’s trademark brand of horror. The result is a noir-detective film that almost works. Even with the Director’s Cut, there are still some elements that prevent Lord of Illusions from being a great horror film. Conceptually speaking, it’s a very interesting movie – but the execution is wishy-washy at best.

Barker is an excellent author who paints entire worlds with his words, but as a filmmaker he is unable to speak the vocabulary of cinema. His films – Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Lord of Illusions – are consistently underwhelming and mostly disappointing. Each is ripe with brilliant ideas, intriguing characters and disturbing imagery, but none of them rise above the look and feel of a made-for-TV movie.

After viewing Lord of Illusions, I’m left wondering how much better (and more effective) Barker’s story could have been had a filmmaker like David Cronenberg or John Carpenter adapted it. Alas, we can only evaluate the film that exists, not the film that could have been. The Director’s Cut is an improvement over the theatrical release, but it isn’t the drastic change in quality that the Nightbreed: Director’s Cut is.

Barker’s 1995 film comes to Blu-ray in an outstanding 1.78:1, 1080p transfer with a nice amount of grain. In addition to making the forgotten film look brand new, Scream Factory uncovers the obscured audio elements with a Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio track. This is without a doubt the best this film has ever looked or sounded – it all comes down to how much you like the film itself.

2014 has been a fantastic year for horror fans, thanks to Scream Factory. Must-have Blu-ray releases like Sleepaway Camp, Ginger Snaps, Halloween: The Complete Collection (including the Producer’s Cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers), and Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut have delivered above and beyond in terms of quality and bonus material, and Lord of Illusions is yet another top-notch release collector’s edition.

Lord of Illusions (Collector’s Edition) is now available on Blu-ray at Amazon. Check out the list of bonus features, as well as a scene from the movie, below:

Bonus Features

* Commentary by director Clive Barker
* “A Gathering of Magic” Featurette – Original behind the scenes footage
* “Illusion of Reality” Featurette – Rare behind the scenes footage
* Vintage interviews and unseen on-set footage
* Deleted scenes with Clive Barker commentary
* NEW interview with storyboard artist Martin Mercer
* Photo gallery

Video

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