On the page, notably in the short stories of his Books of Blood anthologies. Clive Barker is a titan of terror. As a writer and director, Barker is a mixed bag. Hellraiser, his 1987 debut, conjured up a prime puddle of pus in Pinhead. But in Night Breed (1990) and now Lord of Illusions, Barker tempers the horror with humor to broaden his audience. Hey, big mistake.
Illusions stars the appealing Scott Bakula of TV's Quantum Leap and Murphy Brown as Harry D'Amour, a private eye into X-Files-type cases. Harry exudes a film noir glamour as he beds Dorothea (Goldeneye Bond girl Famke Janssen) after her David Copperfieldish husband, Swann (Kevin J. O'Connor), dies doing a too tricky sword illusion. Harry is a conventional hero. The villain Nix (Daniel Von Bargen), a cult leader raised from the dead, is anything but. Barker's real interest is in the dark magic that sparks the scariest scenes. Illusions proves that the Brit boomeister should keep his vision unsweetened and go back to raising hell.