In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
written by Michael De Luca
directed by John Carpenter
John Carpenter‘s 1995 B-movie outing In the Mouth of Madness is probably one of his last decent motion pictures. This is maybe the fifth or sixth time I see it, and although not up there with his best films, it’s still an interesting homage to all things Lovecraftian (H.P. Lovecraft is one of Carpenter’s literary heroes), with its share of haunting, surreal moments.
While on the hunt for a missing horror writer, an insurance agent (Sam Neill) and a book editor (Julie Carmen) discover that the writer’s novels are somehow coming to life, blurring the line between fantasy and reality and driving readers to insanity.
It’s all a bit silly, for sure. But once the two main characters get to Hobb’s End, the town which one of them describes as “the seat of an evil older than mankind and wider than the known universe” (a line straight out of Lovecraft’s 1935 short story The Haunter of the Dark), things perk up and we get demonic children, sinister churches, and slimy monsters keen on breaking through to the other side. Our side.
I remember seeing In the Mouth of Madness with a friend who, as the credits rolled, indignantly exclaimed, “No, that can’t be the ending!” I couldn’t stop laughing, but he’s partly right: The final moments are pure meta – the insurance agent goes to the movies to watch himself in the same film we just saw and laughs uncontrollably as he loses his mind. It’s Carpenter at his most playful, but it’s certainly not for everyone.
Carlos I. Cuevas