Posts Tagged ‘Clive Barker


Lord of Illusions (1995)

Private Detectives: Nothin' but trouble.

Private Detectives: Nothin’ but trouble.

Private detectives are always getting into some sort of trouble; either they’re totally broke or they’re in way over their ignorant heads. It’s probably safe to say Clive Barker’s private detectives fare the worst of all. Just ask Harry D’Amour (Scott Bakula), the gumshoe extraordinaire in Lord of Illusions. He managed to stumble his way into a freaky cult. I mean, like, freaky even for Los Angeles.

Thirteen years ago, a man named Nix (Daniel von Bargen) kidnaped a young girl with the intention of sacrificing her up to Satan (I guess?). His disciples, of course, were totally on board (I mean, that’s what disciples do, right?). Lucky for the girl, some former members

Swann and his fatefully stupid sword trick.

Swann and his fatefully stupid sword trick.

of the cult were able to shake loose of Nix’s mental grip and return just in time to save her from destruction. One of these saviors was a man named Swann, whom Nix thought of as something of a protégé. Burned by his rejection and stymied sacrifice, Nix casts a spell on Swann which causes him to see things as they truly are, or something. His friends’ faces become monstrous, the world around them liquid and terrifying. He finally snaps out of it, but never forgets the vision. He and the other good guys are able to trap Nix, put a horrifying iron mask on his face and bury him deep as hell.

Back to present day, Swann now makes his living as a famous illusionist a la David Copperfield. His beautiful wife has convinced D’Amour to help protect Swann from the cult members, whom she believes are assembling together for Nix’s resurrection. That’s all well and good, but one thing D’Amour can’t protect Swann from is his own illusions: his newest trick has failed him and he dies in front of his adoring fans. Or does he?


You know, I don’t think I liked this movie very much. It screams 1995 in some of the worst ways. Some of the characters exhibit those black and white extremes that only work if whatever you’re watching is laughably bad (I’m thinking Alien Warrior or Death Wish 3 here). The ones that don’t still manage to make decisions that you’d never make, and that left me frustrated with the movie. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that Nix, the baddest of baddies, is played by Daniel von Bargen, none-other than Seinfeld’s Kruger (if you’re not familiar, he was one of the silliest, dumbest bosses ever portrayed in television history). Now, that’s hardly Clive Barker’s fault, but nevertheless made the movie that much more ridiculous for me.

Speaking of ridiculous, can we stop it with the edgy private detectives already? Look, I like Scott Bakula as much as the next girl that grew up in the 80’s, but even he can’t make this tired stereotype interesting. Snappy comebacks and a persistent sense of curiosity in the face of satanic magic is doubtful to get you very far. Perhaps there are some better examples, but after watching this flick I get the impression that the 1990’s and Noir tendencies really shouldn’t mix. Ever. Unless it’s a comedy.

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

Skinned Alive!

Skinned Alive!

What I’m about to say might make horror fans the world over gasp in disbelief; any credibility that I haven’t already lost might go up in smoke completely, but I do not care, I must proclaim the truth! Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth is most definitely my most favorite Hellraiser film of them all!

I grew up on Hellraiser flicks. Pinhead and sweet old Uncle Frank have been scaring me since I was far too young to be watching such things. I love the first two just as much as the next guy, but Hell On Earth has something I think it’s pretty safe to say the first two don’t have: a sense of humor. For me, that’s the key. I’d much rather be watching something with a little bit of goof in it than something that takes itself too seriously. And, yes, that includes horror – heck, perhaps especially horror requires such goofiness to be truly successful!
Pinhead will use all his people skills to get the heck out of this statue...

Pinhead will use all his people skills to get the heck out of this statue…

Anyway, plot: Kristy Cotton and her unfortunate family are nothing but faded memories, and one would hope the evil found in Pinhead’s box is long dead and buried. But there’s no money in a dead Cenobite! This time it’s the wonderfully sleazy J.P. Monroe, owner of Gasworks, the hottest goth nightclub in town, who unwittingly unleashes the evil upon us.

It all starts when Joey, an aspiring and currently flailing newscaster, witnesses some pretty bizarre shit in the ER: some dude rolls in on a stretcher with blood pooling on the sheets and chains exploding from his face! Joey’s Nancy Drew instinct kicks in, and she’s on the hunt for the truth. Her only clue: the box. She convinces a desperate, scared and broke young

It's that darned box again!

It’s that darned box again!

woman named Terri, an acquaintance of the unfortunate young ER visitor, to help her solve the mystery. You know what comes next: the innocent Joey is dragged into a world of pain and horror!

Yes, it’s gory and it still has all of Pinhead’s ridiculously dramatic soliloquies about pleasure, pain and the human condition. But this time, it makes you giggle, just a little bit, and not in a sneering way; you’re giggling because Anthony Hickox wants you to giggle. And it rules! I must say, I’ve gone through a few “best of Hellraiser” lists on the web and I’m astounded to find Hell on Earth is often very low on the totem pole while some others (pretty bad ones that I’ll be posting about pretty soon) are up high. I guess when one thinks about Clive Barker, one isn’t necessarily looking to bust a gut, and I suppose I can understand that, but really, this movie is totally entertaining. I definitely recommend.

Transmutations (1985)

Sleeping beauty, Nicole.

Sleeping beauty, Nicole.

I like Clive Barker. Apparently, though, the folks that produced Transmutations didn’t care for him so much. The story goes they were looking for an hour-and-a-half long music video. Mr. Barker thought his screenplay was for a horror movie. As you can imagine, the final product suffered a bit from the confusion, and sadly doesn’t live up to its potential.

Transmutations is set in a typically strange Clive Barker kind of world. Nicole, a high-class hooker, is abducted from her bed by some ninja-like toughs. A supposedly reformed mobster has coerced an old employee of his, Roy Bain, to find her. It’s easy to



convince Bain he wants the job, because he’s still in love with Nicole. Everyone seems to be in love with Nicole. She’s beautiful and special; different than the others.

As Bain investigates Nicole’s disappearance, he comes across some truly unsavory folks, most notably Dr. Savary, the guy who’s been supplying a bunch of former heroin addicts with a new drug

Dr. Savary

Dr. Savary

called “white man.” The drug turns them into mutants, except Nicole, who is somehow immune.

There are definitely some interesting moments in this movie, and a lot of what happens reminds me of Night Breed, a movie I didn’t particularly care for, but is probably worth a second viewing and is definitely better than this. The problem is, as you might imagine, it wavers a little too much between detective movie, horror movie, and aimless nothing.


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