Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Lord of Illusions' (1995)
Proof that Lovecraftian horror needs no tentacle monsters...
Barker was really on point with this story. It's dark and gritty, and fucking disturbing. I also forget just how insane it could be including the multiple extremely cringe-worthy scenes. Barker was always good at extremes. So when the guy who gave me Hellraiser put out an Eldritch horror, I dove on it like a live grenade.
I think what I love the most about this movie is the hokey 'detective film noir' background they gave it. It flows seamlessly in and out of a 1930s style James Cagney, right into The Mouth of Madness. And this movie doesn't pull any fucking punches.
The FX were kinda crappy due to the lack of budget, but they made due with this old film screening technique, and it actually works. It doesn't look the greatest, but it makes the presentation seem properly esoteric. It's effectively like our modern version of shit CGI. If they didn't do it just right, it could have ruined the whole film.
The acting is actually really good for horror. A lot of these people weren't very well known back in 95, so that just shows Barker's ability to spot talent.
The important part is that it's dark, twisted, and forces the protagonists to challenge their sanity to the breaking point. It paws at lame Anglo-Christian mythos, but always hints at something deeper, darker, and older. Heaven and Hell are mentioned, as are demons and possession, but they continuously explain that it's far more complicated, and even more sinister. My only problem with this movie was the incredibly anticlimactic ending.
I'm not going to mince words though. This movie is good enough for general adult audiences, and absolute required viewing for anyone who calls themselves a Horror Head.
Swanns's plan to dodge the main villain 'Nix' really doesn't make any fucking sense. First, he told his butler where Nix was buried. So getting rid of him was just as central to getting rid of himself. Also, he knew Nix was a vindictive SOB, so how could he possibly have convinced himself that Nix would ignore his wife Dorothea. She put a fucking bullet in Nix, after all. But SOME-FUCKING-HOW Swann convinces himself that if he fakes his own death, Nix will just give up and stay dead. Brilliant... I get that he's a total coward, but how the fuck did he make the multiple logical back-flips to pull that plan out of his ass?
I mentioned the ending before, but I really have to harp on it. You almost got the feeling that Barker knew it was too lame to leave, so he ended it with an explosion. Let's not forget here, that killing Nix made him more powerful, and brought him to the brink of godhood, as he was intending. At the end of the movie, they put a bullet through his third eye, and seemingly kill him. As it turns out, this only pisses him off even more, so he decides to permanently shed his flesh, and just end the world already. This begins to unleash the manifested entity that Nix truly is. So, how do they stop him? A mortally injured Swann levitates Scott Bakula's character up to Nix, pokes Nix in the eyes, and flings him down a pit to the underworld.
Barker must have realized that killing a god with a levitating eye poke was way too lame. After a few moments, Nix basically explode in a last ditch effort for revenge. Still, it was too little too late. Nothing could make up for 'the flying eye poke.' The ending was already ruined. Compared to the rest of the movie, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Still, it's a fascinating movie with an even more interesting mythos. I highly recommend it as a mandatory must-watch for horror heads, just to get some 90s Eldritch horror history.