Director – John Carpenter (Halloween, Memoirs of an Invincible Man)
Starring – Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Snow White: A Tale of Terror), Julie Carmen (Fright Night Part 2, The Butcher), and Jurgen Prochnow (The Seventh Sign, Dune)
Release Date – 1994
Rating – 4/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
Tagline – “Lived any good books lately?”
Horror has seen its fair share of horror icons over the years ranging from characters to actors and directors. John Carpenter made a name for himself when he released Halloween in 1978 and was credited with creating an entire sub-genre. Though this was not the first “slasher” but it was the first to reach a mainstream market. He would go on to release several other import films in the horror and sci-fi genres.
One of those films is the 1994 film In the Mouth of Madness. When I was in high school I owned this on VHS and I never took the time to watch it. The artwork did not appeal to me so I always skipped on it. That changed when Scream Factory announced their release on of the film on blu. Their new artwork had me hooked. I couldn’t wait to check it out. I’m glad I did because this is easily my favorite Carpenter flick to date.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows insurance investigator John Trent (Neill) who is tasked with tracking down famed horror author Sutter Kane (Prochnow) who went missing after writing his last hit. He takes all his published works to his home and realizes that the covers are clues. He finds that they point to a small area in New England and heads there with the publisher’s assistant. On their trip their the assistant starts noticing things that stand out and before long realizes that these strange occurrences are situations that Cane had written about.
She tries to warn Trent but he refuses to pay her any mind. When they arrive at the hotel he starts to notice the little things she had mentioned and he now starts to believe. The town is the incarnation of Cane’s work and in the middle of it they find him working on his newest novel which will elevate him to a god. Trent tries to stop his work from getting published but Cane is so powerful that his writing forces Trent to do as he is told ushering in a new age of chaos. **Spoiler Alert**
I’ve seen a good portion of Carpenter’s work but none has floored me like this one. The artwork for the VHS copy I had was just so fucking generic and boring looking. I couldn’t imagine that a movie that had a poster as bland as that would be as entertaining as this film actually was.
The acting in this one is easily my favorite of any of the Carpenter films which is saying something when you have films like Escape from New York and The Thing. Sam Neill was coming of the blockbuster smash Jurassic Park and then absolutely destroyed it with his performance here. His character demanded a lot from him and he fucking delivered. Easily my favorite character from him. Once again Jurgen Prochnow brings an amazing character to life. His performance in this film is legendary and its a shame more people don’t talk about the character of Sutter Cane when they mention horror icons. The supporting cast is great as well including the cameo from screen legend Charlton Heston.
The story for this one is heavily influenced by H.P. Lovecraft but Carpenter is able to spin most of these tales into his own. They work very well resulting in a film with solid pacing and scenes that are truly terrifying.
Finally, this is not a gory film. There is blood but the bloody stuff is done mostly off camera. With that being said, it has some phenomenal practical effects and creature designs. Overall, In the Mouth of Madness is now my favorite Carpenter film. Since I watched this for the first time I’ve been looking forward to my second viewing. Any fan of Carpenter needs this for their collection and this blu from Scream Factory is perfect. Check it out.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – Revisiting the Film’s Locations
Behind the Scenes Footage
Making of Featurette