John Carpenter’s ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ is Deliciously Twisted (review)

John (Sam Neill) is an insurance investigator with a dim view of humanity. He’s hired by a publishing company to track down its star writer Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow), who has disappeared with the last half of his new book, In the Mouth of Madness. John and editor Styles (Julie Carmen) take off for small-town New England, thinking he’s hiding in Hobb’s End, the town where his books take place. Turns out Cane’s new book is about “the end of everything”—and it’s not fiction. John’s neatly ordered sense of reality is tested to the limits as he realizes that he is only a pawn in Cane’s novel.

mad2

One of the more striking aspects of the film is the recalcitrant author’s resemblance to Stephen King—at least in terms of popularity, a cult-like following, and his work regarded as “horror crap.” Stylistically Cane is actually more like H.P. Lovecraft, who also wrote about New England. The name Pickman, used in the film, is plucked from Lovecraft’s work. Cane’s tone, dialogue, use of tentacle creatures and description of “the old ones” is also more like Lovecraft. As Styles says, regarding Cane’s massive book sales, “You can forget about Stephen King.”

mad6
Sutter Cane…wonder what makes people immediately think of Stephen King?

Something else interesting is the film’s gloomy tone, often dimly lit and frequented by nightmare sequences. John is cheerful enough in his misanthropy, but overall it seems like people are depicted as violent brain-dead sheep, ready to riot at any given moment. Then there’s the chilling motif throughout of reality vs. unreality (“I’m not a piece of fiction”) and sane vs. insane. As Styles points out, when the insane are the majority, then the sane would by default be insane. John agrees, volunteering to live in a mental hospital, claiming, “It’s safer in here now.”

mad5
Look, it’s John Glover!

I really don’t have any complaints about the movie. Cane’s creatures are left to the imagination for the most part, but the special effects aren’t bad for the mid-90s—I particularly like the scene when Cane rips himself like paper to reveal the portal for the old ones.

mad3
Ooh, he’s gonna feel that in the morning

My favorite scene is when John leaves the hospital to go watch the movie version of In the Mouth of Madness. He watches footage of his own exploits and laughs hysterically, his eyes bulging with mirth—and madness.

mad4
Not the exact image I wanted–picture him 10% more crazed

 

 

 

 

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: