Lord of Illusions — Horror Meets Old Hollywood
This movie was made by horror master, Clive Barker, but is this really a horror movie?
Clive Barker smashed the magical style of old Hollywood movies into a world full of magical mayhem. Lord of Illusions is a detective story set in a world where things go bump in the night and the boogeyman is real.
This movie was released in 1995 and was written and directed by horror master, Clive Barker. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, he’s responsible for Hellraiser, Books of Blood, Nightbreed, and a lot more. You owe yourself a dip into those worlds.
I first saw this movie in college, rented from the now-defunct Hastings, and watched it with a couple of buddies. I remember thinking it was great. Dark and different. Not your typical horror movie, yet familiar.
The movie has good imagery and starts off strong in the past (from the bulk of the story), in the Mojave Desert. We get a strong mystical crisis that occurs several years before the story actually takes place. It’s an action- and mystery- and magic-packed prologue, in which we’re introduced to a few key characters, including the villain, Nix, also known as the Puritan.
When you have a guy introduced who does all this evil stuff in the opening sequence of the film, and then he calls himself Puritan, you know you’re in for a bad time. Puritan ideology in real-life is some dark, anti-humanity bullshit, so when you apply something already dark — that pretends to be light — to an obviously evil guy, it makes him feel extra evil. For the tone of this movie, the escalation of Nix’s evilness is fantastic. It’s just some good filmmaking.
After the intense prologue, and the introduction of Harry as a stretched-thin, excessively sweaty private investigator, we land in Los Angeles. The rest of the story takes place there, years after — SPOILERS — Dorothea shot Nix and then Swann magically bound him to his physical form before burying him in the desert. Setting this movie in LA is perfect because it does two things better than the horror aspect of the film.