Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Flashbacks: In the Mouth of Madness

In the Mouth of Madness 1995
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Michael De Luca
Starring Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jurgen Prochnow, David Warner, John Glover, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, Charlton Heston and Frances Bay
This film was Carpenter’s own take on the work of H.P. Lovecraft intermingled with the popularity of Stephen King and it works wonders as a horror film. Carpenter considers this his final film in the unrelated “Apocalypse” trilogy which began with The Thing and continued with Prince of Darkness. The film is really a homage to writers of horror fiction and it shows. It is a frightening film that deals with paranoia and really makes for a tense and scary film. The imaginative script really works wonders and you really side with Trent and hopes he finds a solution to the nightmare he is thrust in. This film has a great cast and I think Neill gives a standout performance in the film and its amazing to watch him go form a by the books investigator to a manic loon. This is a intelligent and twisted piece of horror cinema that really delivers and really feels as if it could be a lost Lovecraft tale.
The plot basics are this, insurance investigator Trent (Neill) is hired by book publisher Jackson Harglow (Heston) to find famed horror writer Sutter Cane (Prochnow) who has a new book being released and he is needed so they can publish the book. It seems Cane’s books cause mass hysteria and hallucinations to the people who read his works. Trent believes the disappearance is a marketing strategy so along with A editor (Carmen) goes on the hunt to find Cane. He believes Cane’s fictional town Hobb’s End is a real place and thinks that is where he is hiding. He finds the town and discovers that Cane is changing reality and bringing his creations into the real world. Trent must now find a way to stop this or it may well be the end of the world.
This is a fantastic and terrifying film. Carpenter’s direction is solid and there are times where you wonder if things are actually happening or are they just in Trent’s fevered mind. The scene on his couch when he is studying Cane’s work is one of these and really makes the viewr jump. The film also plays more on mood and atmosphere rather than just shock scenes and that’s really what makes the film work. The script is smart and suspenseful. The way it opens with Trent being brought into a sanitarium really makes the viewer want to find out how he got to this point. At first Trent is seen as sort of a dickish character but as he uncovers more about Cane the viewer really cares what happens to him. The cast is flawless. Neill gives what I think is his best performance as Trent and plays a great flawed hero. Carmen is a great co lead to the film and she plays up her bizarre parts to play very well. Prochnow is a great evil character and you can see he relishes his role in the film and hams it up quite well. I especially loved his scene on the bus with Trent. Heston has a small role that he is great in as well. The SFX and make up effects in the film are quite good and really play up the terrifying aspects of the film. The score by Carpenter has a hard rock feel to it and almost feels like AC/DC did a horror soundtrack and it suits the film really well. This is a great film by Carpenter and one that I revisit quite a bit.
This one gets 5 out of 5 stars

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