Lord of Illusions
Time Out saysBarker's full-blooded adaptation of his story The Last Illusion arrives in Britain on video as a 'director's cut', with an extra 12 minutes, but since it's not letter-boxed, half the film's missing anyway. Hired by the enigmatic Dorothea (Janssen) to look out for her illusionist husband, Philip Swann (O'Connor), private eye Harry D'Amour (Bakula) enters a world where magic and illusion imperceptibly mingle. At the heart of the mystery is another of Barker's Faustian pacts: having learned his craft from religious cult leader Nix (Von Bargen), Swann recanted and sent Nix into temporary limbo. Now another Nix acolyte, the effete Butterfield (Sherman), has engineered his vengeful mentor's resurrection. Barker feels that the extra scenes flesh out the characters and explain their motivations, but much of this expository detail could be inferred from the studio's shorter cut. More fascinating are the imaginatively perverse images, the parallels between magic and cinematic illusion, and a gay subtext that presents the central struggle as a sexual/professional ménage à trois involving Nix, his heir apparent, Swann, and the aspiring Butterfield.