The Indiana-born illustrator A.R. Tilburne got a later start than some of his pulp contemporaries. He was already in his forties and settled down with a family before he sold his first illustrations in 1935. Before that, he had been an amateur actor, an honorably discharged member of the U.S. Navy, a real estate agent, and a building manager. But even though he started late, he quickly made his mark with the covers that he did for magazines like Weird Tales and Short Stories. In 1947, he did his best known pulp work when he painted the cover for H.P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear. He devoted his later years to painting western scenes. He died at the age of 77 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
George O’Brien (Jim Metzler) is a former executive at a San Diego computer company who is driving across Nevada. He is heading to Reno, where he plans to set up a company with the embezzled millions that he has hidden in his trunk. When he spots former Vegas showgirl Patti (Jennifer Rubin) standing on the side of the road, he stops to pick her up. She explains that her car broke down and she needs a lift. George is happy to give her a ride. The only problem is that Patti is traveling with her boyfriend, Chevy (Kyle Secor). At first, Chevy just seems to be a goofy guy who talks too much. However, Chevy is actually a hitman, traveling to Vegas to kill a gangster (Jerry Orbach). After the hit, Chevy abandons George in the desert and steals his car. Determined to get his money, George pursues Chevy and Patty across the desert.
Starting like a caper film and ending like a spaghetti western, Delusion was one of the best (and most overlooked) of the many low-budget neo-noirs that came out during the first half of the 1990s. While the underrated Metzler and Secor both give good performances, Delusion is stolen by Jennifer Rubin, who is sexy, funny, and unpredictable as Patti. The scene where she performs These Boots Are For Walking is one of the best of the 90s. Whatever happened to her?
And why hasn’t this excellent retro thriller been given a proper release on DVD or Blu-ray? If any movie is deserves to be rediscovered via a special edition, it’s Delusion.
In this scene, Sparkle Motion performs onstage while, miles away, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) burns down the house of creepy motivational speaker, Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze). Playing throughout this scene: Duran Duran’s “Notorious.”