Old 11-03-2002, 12:49 PM
In the Mouth of Madness

John Carpenter is one of those genre directors that can wrangle any subgenre without compromising his creativity. Vampires proved that he could master the art of dumb fun, dishing out graphic bloodshed, sharp one-liners courtesy of James Woods, and a voluptuous vampire in the shape of Sheryl Lee. Obviously, he knows a thing or two about constructing an effective slasher. Halloween is proof of this (even though it’s not a favorite of mine). The Thing and The Fog showcase his knack for orchestrating suspenseful mood pieces. With In the Mouth of Madness, Carpenter stretched his talents even further by putting together a slick, unpredictable mindfuck! This is a difficult subgenre to tackle. You have to tell an intricate, mind-bending tale, but you also have to keep the viewer interested by involving well-rounded characters that are easy to warm up to.

In Mouth’s case, one of those well-rounded characters is John Trent, an insurance investigator who explores the disappearance of Sutter Kane, an author who pens best-selling horror novels. Sam Neill plays Trent, and it’s fun watching him snap in and out of schizophrenia. Neill does an excellent job of keeping his character grounded, yet on the verge of lunacy. Julie Carmen plays Linda Styles, the woman assigned to assist Trent in locating Kane. Like Trent, she’s fleshed out enough to be believable. This film evades a common pitfall. I was expecting Trent and Styles to romance each other at some point and somehow fall in love within the span of a couple of days, but Carpenter knows better. A “connection” is hinted at occasionally, but fortunately, their relationship ends on an unconventional note. Jurgen Prochnow is adequately creepy as Kane and gets just the right amount of screen time, meaning that he’s not overexposed, but he’s not forgotten halfway through the film either. Cool.

This is a slow-paced affair, but I was always glued to the screen. You can’t spot the twists and turns from a mile away. As with most psychological films, the gore is moderate. Don’t even think for a second that there aren’t disturbing moments along the way, though. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say to watch out for axe-wielding psychopaths, an irate police officer, and a pedestrian on a bicycle. Not all of the “mindfuck” elements are explained thoroughly, but they really don’t need to be. It all fits in with the overwhelming sense of bedlam and paranoia. Carpenter creates chaos like a pro! The visuals are always haunting and stylish (I loved the “highway distortions”). Apart from the subtle, ethereal horror, there are also a few cool creatures thrown into the mix. But at times, these brutes feel derivative of other...things, as seen in The Thing. For all I know, the “granny” creature could have been lifted from one of The Thing’s deleted scenes! Still, that’s only one instance of unoriginality. All other instances are 100% original and nothing feels stale or exhausted.

A slew of genre fans have grumbled that Carpenter’s films faltered in the ‘90s. How many gleaming masterpieces did they want this guy to crank out? It’s unfortunate that some people can’t help but to typecast one of their favorite directors. They would have loved for Carpenter to do something akin to Halloween or The Thing over and over again, but I would have hated it. In my eyes, he’s still got what many have said that he’s lost. No, Ghosts of Mars wasn’t profound filmmaking, but can’t he experiment every once in awhile? In other words, can’t he do what the fuck he wants to do? Well, I see that I’ve veered way off course. Basically, what this whole review boils down to is very simple and doesn’t warrant my rambling – if you haven’t seen In the Mouth of Madness yet, then do so immediately. It’s a bare necessity that ranks above “food” and “shelter.”

My rating-4.5/5
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Old 11-03-2002, 08:33 PM
A Very creepy mind fuck.*spoilers***
My favorite part being the transition from realty to the world created by the author. Very nice cinematography. This little showcase is extremly underrated and should have got more attention then it did upon release.
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Old 11-03-2002, 09:24 PM
In The Mouth of Madness- 9/10

Rated R for Horror, Violence/Gore, and Disturbing Images.

John Carpenter's "almost" masterpeice. I have always loved this film ever since I watched it in 9th grade. It was a rainy evening, no one was home but my girlfriend and I so we decided to rent some horror flicks. Well, this one was an awesome choice for the atmosphere around us. In The Mouth of Madness is creepy, disturbing, well made and intelligent. All I will say about the plot is that a Sam Neill is looking for an author who has seemingly dissapeared. Get ready for some really creepy imagery!

Acting- 9/10
Sam Neill is widely underappreciated, he's very talented and shows it here. His co-star Julie Carmen was decent but didn't leave me with a great impression of her. Jurgen Prochnow was creepy, the one word to perfectly describe him. And Charlton Heston pops up which was pretty cool.

Directing- 10/10
John Carpenter is a genious.

Gore- 5/10
Some hacking with an axe, a cut off finger, some skin is eaten off an axe, and other minor stuff.

Nudity- 0/10
None, I don't think.

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Old 11-04-2002, 06:58 PM

Thank you so much for reconizing this underappreciated horror materpiece. Eventhough we seem to vehmently disagree on David Lynch (who I despise) and Stepphen King( who I think is a master craftasman) youre still one of my favorite schmoes.

This is a really powerful movie. I saw it alone in a hotel room years ago and it truly terrified me. I couldnt sleep that nightt. Keep in mind Im 20 years old.
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Old 11-04-2002, 10:27 PM
actually now that I think about that I think that is someone else I disagree with sorry
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Old 11-05-2002, 01:08 PM
Yeah, you must have your schmoes mixed up. I'm not a fan of Lynch either. To me, Mulholland Drive is merely random imagery thrown together in random fashion! I imagine that he spends 20-30 minutes writing his scripts. I suppose that's a formula for brilliance, huh? In the Mouth of Madness is a well-executed mindfuck that turns your brain inside out, but still gives you a sense of gratification. I wonder if Carpenter will return to this territory some day...
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Old 11-05-2002, 01:28 PM

Sorry for the mix-up but what you said made soooo mcuh sense. To me there is a big difference a mindfuck for the sake of being arty and pretntious in my opinion (Lych) and a minfuck that a ctually means something like this or Brazil. Theres countless more but I cant think of a ny right now.
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Old 11-05-2002, 02:11 PM
Another quality mindfuck is Videodrome. It's not completely coherent, but the dominant theme is obvious. To some extent, the Phantasm series is one gargantuan mindfuck. I still haven't figured out The Tall Man's ties to Mike, but that doesn't mean that it's not intriguing. As you said, a good mindfuck doesn't baffle you for the sake of baffling you.
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Old 11-05-2002, 03:33 PM
ITMOM had cameos by:

John Glover, how cool can you get
Chuck Heston
Jurgen Prochnow's hair.
Bad Carpenter's tune.

This does capture the atmosphere of a Lovercraft story. No mean feat.
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Old 07-13-2005, 08:48 PM
I was going to write a review on this puppy but don't think I can do a better job than countchocula.

I was in love with this film for about the first 3/4 of it. It lost me a little somewhere in the last act. I think it deserves a second viewing but I was stupid and sent my copy back to Netflix before giving it another glance.

The best way to describe it is creepy. Creepy isn't done well these days and Carpenter pulls it off with the highway scenes in particular. Good shit.

I agree with the discussion about Lynch as well. This is a very well-done mindfuck while he is a film whore hustling images together and then taking the critics' dicks up his ass. Carpenter's film felt "Lynchian" but he managed not to fuck it all up in the end.

I also applaud his balls for branching out and giving this one a go.
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Old 07-14-2005, 02:13 AM
Ive always liked this Carpenter flick, It isnt as good as The Thing mind you but Its still one of the best horrors from the 90s. Thsi movie is best described as creepy, although at times I felt the story did get rather corny.....
Overall an awesome 90s offering from one of the true masters of horror......
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Old 07-14-2005, 07:47 AM
In The Mouth Of Madness is another masterpiece by John Carpenter, every time i watch it it gets a little bit better. first of all the cinematography is excellent and the film looks wonderful with nice use of colours and images. the acting is also excellent and they add to the oddness of the film. there are also a couple of creepy moments here and there all building up to a kool mindfuck ending

it also has one of the best main theme ever

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Old 07-14-2005, 03:42 PM
Heh, I don't even remember writing this review. Thanks for the kind words, Pack-man.
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Old 07-30-2005, 02:57 AM
A ressurrection review, but a good one. I loved this movie and hate it's not appreciated as much as it should be. One of the only ones that has gotten under my skin - the highway scene is trippy!
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