Digi-Schlock: LORD OF ILLUSIONS (Scream Factory 2 Blu-Ray Set)

Scream Factory turned a lot of heads in the horror home video scene earlier this year when they unleashed their two special editions for Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, including a full director’s cut reconstruction of the film. As it turns, they still had a Barker-ian ace up their sleeve to play and just played it by releasing a 2 blu-ray set of the author’s final directorial work to date, Lord Of Illusions. The results are likely to be considered a nice companion piece to the Nightbreed sets by Barker’s fans.

LordOI-bluThings begin with two versions of the film, each on its own disc: the theatrical cut and the director’s cut initially issued on DVD back in the ’90s. The source used for both transfers has a certain amount of age-related debris but the overall image quality benefits from the hi-def bump, giving a richness to the earthy color scheme and enhancing the detail of the often softly-lit cinematography. Both 5.1 and 2.0 lossless stereo options are provided for audio. The 5.1 is recommended as it adds a little multi-speaker oomph to the setpieces and gives a nice presence to Simon Boswell’s oft-intense musical score.

Scream Factory has also included a package of extras old and new, most of which appear on the unrated disc. First up is a solo commentary track by Barker, which was created for the film’s laserdisc incarnation. This track takes a methodical scene-by-scene approach that gets a little dry at times but delivers plentiful information on the director’s mindset regarding his work. Barker focuses on why scenes were cut for the theatrical version, what effects the MPAA forced him to shorten and talks frankly about dealing with the studio.

LordOI-03There is also “A Gathering Of Magic,” a vintage 18-minute making-of piece that includes interview input from Barker as well as producer Joanne Sellar and cast members Scott Bakula, Famke Janssen and Daniel Von Bargen. It’s a solid featurette with an EPK kind of style. It weaves in some interesting behind-the-scenes snippets, including a look at the shooting of the film’s theatrical magic show sequence, and plenty of soundbits from the filmmakers and cast: Barker gushes about Bakula, Janssen discusses the difficulty of reacting to effects that will be done in post-production and Von Bargen admits that he had to be talked into playing his villainous role.

LordOI-04A nice surprise in a behind-the-scenes footage featurette that runs a whopping 61 minutes. This isn’t just raw footage: producer Greg Carson has artfully edited together vintage interview clips with the behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the film, often using double screen to compare two different angles of BTS footage or to compare the shooting of a scene with the finished scene. This piece also allows for more cast and crew to speak their piece, like Howard Berger demonstrating how the cultist makeup was done and actor/consultant Lorin Stewart talking about the philosophy of the magician. It’s a treat for fans of the film and likely to be their favorite of the extras.

Just over three minutes of deleted scenes follow, presented sans soundtrack and with Barker commentary over them. Most of these are snips removed from existing scenes in the film but fans will be interested by the extra bits of cultist weirdness that didn’t make it into the film’s prologue. Another new feature is an interview with Martin Mercer, who did the storyboards for the film. He reveals that he worked closely with Barker, living at his house and even visiting LordOI-05locations with him to get the imagery right for his work. As you might expect, he speaks very kindly of his old boss. There are also storyboard-to-film comparisons for a few scenes in this piece.

The final extra on the unrated disc is an animated photo gallery. It runs just under sixteen minutes and offers a wealth of publicity photos and stills plus a few poster designs. The one extra on the theatrical cut disc is a trailer: it’s a red-band spot that plays up the film’s freaky style and special effects.

All in all, this is a nicely assembled package for Barker’s fans – and those who like his films will want to add it to their home video collection.

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