This soft-boiled neo-noir/dark fantasy mashup is the least impressive of Barker’s directorial efforts, but it’s also a good deal of fun. The magician duels undead Charlie Manson-cum-illusionist thing absolutely shouldn’t work, but kind of does, and despite the almost fatal lack of clarity in terms of overall narrative, there’s enough nasty, gooey goodness here that the film is always entertaining.
Unique mix of film noir, horror theatrics, H.P. Lovecraft monsters and magic and it shows that the director do have ambition to make something memorable and not just something everyone else makes. Scott Bakula do one of his best leading roles as a world weary detective and Famkee Janssen is shattering sexy as the femme fatale. Love the magic stage show and the disgusting gore, make-up, masks and visuals leave a mark.
A movie about living as a closeted homosexual and the lengths people will go/are forced to go to hide it. In many ways, a very sad film. Also a pretty intense horror film with some great sequences and some stunning imagery. Probably Barker's most fully realized work as a director.
I won't temper my rating with 'guilty pleasure' nonsense; Lord knows what it needs to do to thrill. It somehow manages to transcend the goth/nu-metal schlock of similar ventures of the time, perhaps by evoking noir, and as such is one of the best classical studio horrors of recent decades. It is simply an adventure with stunning character, set and FX design. Imagine if the magick were a little more defined.