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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lord of Illusions (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - Cliver Barker and Scream Factory Together Again

I remember In the Mouth of Madness always being paired up against Lord of Illusions. Not sure if it was because of similar release dates or whether they just appeared in the same issue of Fango, but I watched them both and compared them even though they had nothing to do with one another. In the Mouth of Madness won out for me. It is, for the most part, the scarier movie and so I would down play the importance of Lord of Illusions even through my love for Clive Barkers fiction and some of his previous film adaptations (I do love me some Rawhead Rex). Lord of Illusions took a back seat for many years, and gradually I didn't give it much thought. When Scream Factory announced that Lord of Illusions was coming to Blu-ray I again compared it to In the Mouth of Madness which was unfair. It was bred into me. Both movies have seen a Blu-ray release with in the last year and now was a chance to re-explore Lord of Illusions, hopefully with a fresh head free of the John Carpenter film that seemed to have latched on to all my memories involving Lord of Illusions.

Quantum Leap was a great show. For all that I remember of Scott Bakula (rhymes with Dracula), you'd think that more would have come from other cinematic endeavors beyond Quantum Leap, but it's Lord of Illusions and Quantum Leap for me. Bakula does a great job in Lord of Illusions, but I can't help but think that at any moment through the dark and sorted tale that he's going to flash backward or forward into another body, another time and a new episode. In other words, I have problems separating him from his signature show. This happened to me with Sarah Michelle Gellar. She's always Buffy to me. It makes most movies or roles difficult to believe because, in the back of my mind, she's going to break out into "Give Me Something To Sing About" from Once More with Feeling. This could be a good reason to why I often felt that In the Mouth of Madness was the superior movie. Sam Neil could be anyone. He could go to Jurassic Park. He could try to find his wife only to discover what she had become was something of legendary psychological movie mayhem.

Lord of Illusions starts and ends strong. In fact the end of this picture unnerves me in the way that a Clive Barker adaptation should unnerve you. Think of Hellraiser and how the concepts in that movie from pain and suffering to unrelenting torment beyond this life with origin in what would appear to be a child's game. When the end of Lord of Illusions hits I tense up. My feet are planted firmly on the floor, and I wait for the big reveal (not to be named here for fear of spoiling a nearly perfect climax). The opening intrigues me too, both the imprisonment sequence and the illusion act. After that, the hunt and detective work feels plain Jane. I lose focus through the middle of the film and Lord of Illusions becomes ordinary for a bit while Clive Barker pieces together plot points. This is the kind of thing that works better in a novel or short story. It's the kind of glue that filmmakers have trouble with and often times the reason why we hear viewers proclaim that they like the book better. In this instance we are talking about Barker adapting his own story, The Last Illusion. I haven't explored it in years, but as with most Barker tales, I remember enjoying it (everything up to Everworld actually).

I always though that our big bad guy's look was subpar. It felt phony when I was a kid, but it really is better than I remember it. The movie suffers from early computer generated effects that are indicative of the time in which it was released. It's movies like Lord of Illusions that guided me opinion away from CG and toward the practical effects I adored from the 80's.

With Lord of Illusions you are getting a nice extra package that features both the theatrical and director's cut of the movies. The transfer is beautiful (as it was with Nightbreed from Barker). The commentary track is from Barker himself. I think it's great that Barker is working hand in hand with Scream Factory to help give his directorial efforts new life. There's strong horror here. We have new cover art on the front that is more in line with the contents of the movie though if you prefer the original artwork all you need do is flip the reverse of the cover. This is a Collector's Edition.

Contents include:

--- DISC ONE ---
  • Theatrical Cut of the Film
--- DISC TWO ---
  • All NEW High Definition Transfer of Clive Barker's Director's Cut of the Film
  • Commentary by Director Clive Barker
  • "A Gathering of Magic" Featurette - Original Behind the Scenes Footage
  • Unseen Rare Behind the Scenes Footage "Illusion of Reality" - Vintage Interviews and UNSEEN On-Set Footage Provide a Fascinating Look into the Making of the Film
  • Deleted Scenes with Clive Barker Commentary
  • NEW Interview with Storyboard Artist Martin Mercer
  • Photo Gallery
It's nice to know that with age we can appreciate things in a different way. We do not have to pit movies together especially two completely different movies like Lord of Illusions and In the Mouth of Madness that really have no common nexus at all. Lord of Illusions turns on late in the movie and when it does I urge you to keep breathing. Each step toward the end of the movie is a step toward how real horror works and despite a slow middle, perhaps the pacing helped to build the mystery and tension that is the thing of pure illusion. Scream Factory absolutely must continue this pairing with Barker. Let's get Rawhead Rex on Blu-ray (I don't care who owns the rights).

Lord of Illusions is available now from Scream Factory. 

Synopsis From Scream Factory:

From best-selling author and celebrated director Clive Barker comes a supernatural thriller that rips apart the boundaries between sanity and madness, and between the art of illusion and the terrifying forces of magic.

Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap) portrays Harry D’Amour, a private detective visiting Los Angeles on a routine investigation. Harry gets more than he bargains for when he encounters Philip Swan (Kevin J. O’Connor, The Mummy), a performer whose amazing illusions captivate the world. But are they really illusions? Harry isn’t so sure as he is thrust into a nightmare of murder, deception and terrifying assaults from the dark beyond. Famke Janssen (X-Men, Taken, Hemlock Grove) and Daniel von Bargen (Crimson Tide, The Faculty) also star.

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