LORD OF ILLUSIONS (1995) Reviews and overview

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‘Clive Barker has seen the future of terror. Now… You will too’

Lord of Illusions is a 1995 American horror feature film written and directed by Clive Barker (Hellraiser), based on his earlier short story, The Last Illusion (from Books of Blood Vol. 6). The film presents Barker’s signature character Harry D’Amour onscreen for the first time.

The movie stars Scott Bakula as Harry D’Amour, alongside Kevin J. O’Connor, Famke Janssen and Daniel von Bargen.


The danger begins for detective Harry D’Amour when he is approached by a beautiful woman, Dorothea Swann. Dorothea is married to Philip Swann, a wealthy illusionist who has found fame by disguising real magic as stage trickery, and believes that her husband may be in danger. Harry reluctantly agrees to investigate, and he discovers that Swann has made enemies of a bizarre religious cult who wish to resurrect their leader, an evil sorcerer killed by Swann…

Lord of Illusions 7

Barker asserts that the director’s cut of this film is his definitive version, as the theatrical release does not represent his true vision. The scene with Swann (Kevin O’Connor) biting his finger and pouring his blood on the screws in order to drill the mask into Nix’s head was excised from the original cut in order to obtain an R-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).


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“A marvellous blend of horror, Grand Guignol and detective story, Lord of Illusions draws the viewer into a complex web of deceit, murder and magic … While not as gory as the Hellraiser films, it certainly doesn’t hold back and there are several splatter-filled moments, although the early CGI is put to shame by the brilliant practical effects.” Starburst

“Lord of Illusions is an underrated film that effectively combines the noirish elements of a detective story with the chilling elements of an otherworldly horror piece. Bakula’s everyman portrayal of Harry D’Amour and Barker’s eerie story and direction help draw audiences in, and as the movie’s fervored cultists discover, once you are in the thrall of Nix, it is difficult to tear yourself away.” Horror Talk


“The movie does well when Barker fills the screen with small, disquieting details, as he does in the opening scenes (a prologue that shows the apparent end of von Bargen’s cult), and it has one or two good ideas that deserved better treatment, but this ends up being quite a disappointment. The detective story strand isn’t all that entertaining, the horror isn’t scary and viewers are just left with a bunch of separate, flat moments sandwiched in between good 5-10 minute sequences at either end.” For It Is Man’s Number

Main cast and characters:

  • Scott Bakula as Harry D’Amour
  • Kevin J. O’Connor as Philip Swann
  • Famke Janssen as Dorothea Swann
  • Ashley Lyn Cafagna as young Dorothea
  • Joseph Latimore as Caspar Quaid
  • Wayne Grace as Loomis
  • Daniel von Bargen as Nix
  • Jordan Marder as Ray Miller
  • Barry Del Sherman as Butterfield
  • Joel Swetow as Valentin
  • Vincent Schiavelli as Vinovich




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