Sunday, March 20, 2011


Directed by John Carpenter

Sam Neill - John Trent
Julie Carmen - Linda Styles
Jurgen Prochnow - Sutter Cane

     Insurance investigator John Trent is sent to investigate horror writer Sutter Cane's mysterious vanishing act and ends up in the sleepy little East Coast town of Hobb's End. The fact that this town is a fictional creation from one of Cane's novels is only the beginning of Trent's problems....

     I remember the first time I watched In The Mouth Of Madness. It was 1996 and a Friday night. My friend, Kevin Smith (not the director), called and asked what was going on. "Nothing" I said. Then he suggested that he bring over a movie to watch and asked if I had seen In The Mouth Of Madness. "No" I responded. He then got really excited and said I have to watch it. After two hours the movie was over and my mind was blown by the how awesome it was. Since then the movie has staid in my 10 best horror movies I've seen. And as the namesake of this blog I decided to write a review for it for when the site gets 1,000 hits. Well, guess what. 1,000 has been hit so here's the review!

     I mentioned in a earlier review that I love the works of H. P. Lovecraft and try to see any film dealing with Mythos. The reason why is this movie. It starts out like most of Lovecraft's work with a lone survivor, usually insane from what they had just experience, going into what happened. This movie does just that as the story is told as a flashback. During this time we are introduced to Sam Neill's John Trent, who can actually be called the most sane person in the movie as his character is the one that questions every action and tries to explain the unexplainable. The first words he utters after he's dragged into an insane asylum, and kicking a orderly in the nuts, are "I'm sorry about the balls! It was a lucky shot, that's all!" after which he yells that he's not insane.I was hooked from that point on. His character looks like he's seen Hell and survived. A lot of actors can deliver lines that can be believed, but it's if the actors can show emotion with the eyes that separates the decent actors from the great ones. Even though Sam Neill is criminally overlooked as a actor, he truly is one of the great character actors. If it wasn't for him this movie wouldn't have succeeded.

      While it is a staple for most modern horror movies to show everything up front, and even in the trailer for movies, this one follows more of the classic style of not showing everything which in turn leaves a considerable amount of the true horrific details in the viewers mind, which is usually worse than what can ever be shown on screen. Carpenter knows this and uses it to great affect. That's not to say the movie doesn't have it's monsters, quite the opposite in fact.   It's just that when a monster is shown you never truly get a good view of it as it's either kept in the dark or is shown in close up. The deaths in the movie are handled in the same way as you actually see very few people die on screen while the other deaths are handled off screen and you hear about them through radio and TV broadcasts. A good example is Mrs. Pickman after her transformation in the basement. You never actually see the full creature, you only know she is far from human and is chopping up her husband with a axe.

     Carpenter has always known what he wants out of a movie. Even when he doesn't make the best movie, he still makes the movie he wants. Yet with In The Mouth Of Madness he goes beyond shock horror and makes a more psychological horror. He almost reaches the level he hit with The Thing in 1982 and to me gets close to going above what made that movie great. He twists what is considered sane and spins it on it's head while still playing with the idea of what is insanity. To this day In The Mouth Of Madness is truest in spirit to what Lovecraft was writing plus having the spirit of his work at it's heart, as well as being one of my favorite movies of all time.

     Sutter Cane's rise above human confines by ripping his world apart.

     Every species can smell its own extinction. The last ones left won't have a pretty time with it. In ten years, maybe less, the human race will just be a bedtime story for their children. A myth, nothing more.

     The small town is named "Hobb's End", an in-joke reference to the subway station where the alien ship is excavated in the movie Five Million Years To Earth/ Quatermass and The Pit (1967).

     After Sutter Cane says "Did I ever tell you my favorite color is blue?" It is realized that throughout the entire movie, whenever an actor has a close up, their eyes are blue, proving Sutter Cane's power.

      The dozens of monsters featured towards the end of the film were a combination of men in suits, animatronics and a full-sized "wall" of creatures. It took over thirty people to operate the monsters.

     This is the third film in what Carpenter calls his "Apocalypse Trilogy". In order they are:
     The Thing (1982)
     Prince Of Darkness (1987)
     In The Mouth Of Madness (1994)


  1. One of my favourite bits is how the painting on the wall in the hotel changes. (that would make a great prank - have several increasingly creepy versions of a painting, gradually switch them out and see who notices:)