Michael De Luca's script is sharp enough to never takes itself too seriously, while at the same time it can be very scary and dark. John Carpenter's direction was top-notch. The special effects are great. The boys over at KNB effects studios cook up lots of monsters, gore and slime, delivering the goods as usual.
The creatures here are indeed reminiscent of Carpenter's "The Thing", their creative and all look very lovecraftian in design. At times the film can be extremely scary. The old trick of using darkness and shadows to convey creepiness that Carpenter's so good at are present and good as ever. Highly recommended. Oh, and great ending.
Unfornately for John Trent this not going to be a typical investigation and for John Trent will be an journey he will never forget and it will blur the lines of fiction and reality and will be a battle for John's sanity. During the time from the early to mid s the Horror genre was seen by critics and most Horror fans as dead. I don't think the Horror genre was dead I think the Horror genre was in a coma and was waiting to wake up.
During the time the Horror genre was seen as dead there was a few great Horror films that came out during the early to mid s and one of those Horror films was John Carpenter's In The Mouth Of Madness. But In The Mouth Of Madness has gain a cult following among Carpenter fans and Horror fans over the years be the film is great and unique.
That is what so brilliant and scary about this film is the story and concept of the film:what if the stories of authors such Stephen King,H. P Lovecraft or Clive Barker came to life and you are not sure what is reality or what is fiction? In The Mouth Of Madness answers this question in a scary way.
ITMOM is a Psychological Horror film in the truest since of the words because it's a Horror film that not only scares you physically but also mentally because when you watch ITMOM you are not sure if the events in the film are really happening or is it all in John Trent's mind or Sutter Cane's mind and you are put into a frightening and bizarre journey into darkness. With Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy was about the end of the world and possibly for this film the end of the world doesn't come from human beings explosions or diseases but books.
The film was greatly influence by the works of H. P Lovecraft whether it's the title of the film or the scenes with monsters and supernatural things hiding in the dark and visuals that are haunting and disturbing. The screenplay by Michael De Luca is well-written and original with the dialog being cynical but at the same time very scary and creepy.
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John Trent is a classic Carpenter Antihero is a private detective in the spirit of Film-Noir like classic detective characters like Sam Spade and Phillip Marlow and like those characters Trent is cynical and a loner. While Trent is cynical at the same time we relate to Trent because his character represents the audience and like the audience Trent doesn't understand what is going on or why. There is danger all around the film and Trent can't do anything to stop it or prevent it and you are scared for Trent. Sutter Cane is a scary character not because of the things he does but because of his thinking and his books.
Cane thinks that his books are real and that they are more than just literature and not just reality but his reality. The fans of Sutter Cane's books read his novels like reading the Bible and Cane is influencing and affecting his readers to do horrific things. Sutter Cane is more dangerous with his words then his fists or eyes. ITMOM moves at a great pace and when the terror starts it never stops until the end.
The violence and gore in the film is shocking and frightening because at times the violence and gore is shown or implied with visuals. The ending of the film is one of the best endings in Horror film history and is a classic Carpenter ending because it is so hopeless,sad and at the same time very funny. It's a great ending that you will never forget. The cast does great jobs in their roles. Sam Neill is excellent as John Trent,with Neill bringing intensity and cynicism to the performance.
Jurgen Prochnow is brilliant and frightening as Sutter Cane,with Prochnow bringing believability to role.
Pickman and Willeim Von Homburg Simon give good performances as well. Also lookout for a cameo by a young Hayden Christensen as a paper boy. The direction by John Carpenter is excellent,with Carpenter giving the film a dark and frightening atmosphere and always moving the camera. Great direction by Carpenter. The score by John Carpenter and Jim Lang is great,dark and effective and goes with the scary tone of the film.
Another great score from Carpenter. The special make-up effects by K. B is amazing,disturbing and realistic. Another great effects work from K. In final word,if you love John Carpenter,Horror films or H. Highly Recommended. What a treat of a film this was. It is witty, intelligent, and scary. The basic plot premise is anything but basic as the line between reality and fantasy is almost indistinguishable through most of the film.
What is going on?
Who really knows I'm not sure even director John Carpenter knows. But what we do get is a guessing game of what is real and un-real in a very stylish, sophisticated, almost bizarre fashion.
The film opens in a mental asylum with protagonist Sam Neill being put in a padded cell whilst in a straight-jacket. The setting is larger than life. The characters around Neill are caricatures for the most part. John Glover plays a doctor Doctor Saperstein David Warner, another doctor, begins talking to Neill and asking him about what happened. The rest of the film then details what Neill did working with regards to a lost author named Sutter Cane.
The plot is much more complicated than that and may take subsequent viewings to fully understand WHAT can be understood. The end result is at the very least a very gratifying one as Carpenter constructs a dream-like story that has obvious roots in both the fiction of H. Lovecraft and Stephen King. The acting is good all around Neill is excellent as John Trent. He makes a very believable presence in a sea of un-reality. Julie Carmen is also very good in her role.
Look for Charlton Heston as a publisher and Bernie Casey in a cameo as well. Kudos to Mr. Carpenter for bringing his visions of horror to the silver screen once again. This may be his best film The bizarre thing sometimes about writing and reading fictional books are they are always about heightened or different realities. Each of the characters that are written and involved in the action depending on how their written feel like regular people despite whatever role their suppose to play.
In a way these things are practically creating a certain existence and when we read or write these stories we suspend our disbelief because depending on how much we enjoy the story we want to almost believe it's real. This is my third favorite movie from my favorite movie director John Carpenter and it's also one of my personal favorite films in general; but also the last in his apocalypse trilogy my favorite is "The Thing" It's one of those surreal horror films or just films in general you don't see often it's something that shows up on an occasional amount of years or could slip though the cracks.
This isn't just a film it's an experience, because it thinks outside the box and beyond.
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It was also a little love letter and satire of H. Lovecroft stories which is cool because I'm a fan of his stories. I like it's plot which it's a bit uncannily similar to the film "The Ninth Gate" but that's a different story. Anyway in format it seems like a simple tracking mission mystery but what makes those kinds of plots interesting is one thing always turns into another, and this film does that but takes a more radical approach because it screws with you perception of reality in the film and pulls the rug from under you when you least expect it to.
The protagonist despite unreliable is good, Insurance investigator John Trent played well by underrated actor Sam Neil. He loves to exercise disillusionment and his job supports it, but the thing about him is he has a low viewpoint on humanity in general probably due to the encounter of one scam artist too many in his profession. This fallible almost could make him unlikeable but what makes him likable at least to me is he always has a sense of humor, he's not afraid to satires on himself, this almost gives us a small sense of hope that he will be capable of doing what he should to combat evil.
But as I've said he's an unreliable protagonist I like at times how you question this character's sanity because there are time it seems like he could be losing it, like when he cut the covers of the paperback copies of Sutter Kane.
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And just the simple fact these are forces that are forces beyond his control and understanding. The antagonist Sutter Kane is also great despite not being in the film that long he just has this presence where on the outside he seems like an ordinary guy like most authors are but you sense there is something supernatural about him, after all everything he's written has came true. I love the unsettling feeling it gives you, once again John's trademark feeling of isolation, doom and dread which help successfully add to the feeling that the world could be ending.
From all the weird crap that happens in the film you just aren't sure of anything. The special effects from K and B are great, I even like the town setting which are reminiscent of the Silent Hill video game series since it always takes place in a town with supernatural activity. We see some Chtulu like creatures, some street gang that look all messed up, and one scene that always gave me the creeps was the infamous boy on a bike scene, it was creepy because it underlined the inescapable truth that we were young once but growing old. And my favorite set piece is the Black Chirch which is the spookiest church I've ever seen, with it's inverted crosses and that mural one look at it gave me the creeps.
There is just so much going on in the film that it would require more than one watch to see it all. It's the philosophical conundrum of the giant floating turtle all over again only in a really twisted sense, in that story it was about how our world was really the back of a giant floating turtle; in this film it's on the possibility our world is really a story written by a writer. And of course the music as usual is great, I love the theme song it's just so cool it's one of my favorite movie themes ever.
The film really gets at our perception of reality, are we really in reality or could we truly be characters from a book after all as a saying goes "life is a story".
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As well as something dark that is if we really have it in us to save humanity as a whole. The task to finding a book has became a cause to save humankind but the thing is Trent is good at dealing with only the practical problems in his profession which is pulling the curtain of fraud from fraud, here it's different because the problem is supernatural which are forces beyond his understanding which makes Trent powerless, despite Trent's efforts at trying to save humanity we discover they prove fruitless. Rating: 4 stars.