Trivia After Sutter Cane says "Did I ever tell you my favorite color is blue?" It is realized that throughout the entire movie, whenever an actor has a close up, their eyes are blue, proving Sutter Cane's power.
John Trent occupies cell number 9 at the asylum, and rents room number 9 at the Pickman Inn in Hobb's End.
Is loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft´s writings. Contains many references to Lovecraft´s stories.
The Sutter Cane character is clearly based on John Carpenter’s friend, Stephen King , even referencing King's New Hampshire roots, with Hobb's Corner filling in for King's Castle Rock. Carpenter directed a film version of King's Christine (1983).
This is the third film in what John Carpenter has called his Apocalypse Trilogy, the first being "The Thing" and the second being "The Prince of Darkness."
The building used as the mental institution at the beginning of the film is actually a water filtration plant in the Beaches area of Toronto. It has been the scene of other movies, including the island fortress in Undercover Brother (2002). Filming can no longer take place inside this building following the terrorist attacks on the USA of 11 September 2001.
The posters for the movie-within-the-movie feature the same credits as the movie.
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In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
21st Sep 04
John Trent (Sam Neil), an insurance investigator, embarks on a case to track down popular missing horror writer Sutter Kane (Jurgen Prochnow). Trent is true sceptic but slowly he has no choice but to believe what is really happening - that himself and all he sees in the world around him are being written by Kane. The end is nigh!
Review In the Mouth of Madness is Carpenter's attempt to tell a story in the style of HP Lovecraft. It is a modern horror film about a very ancient evil. The story of In the Mouth of Madness feels fresh. Carpenter described it as an "upscale" horror picture, in that it doesn't follow the usual sort of standard horror plot, as in, say, the slasher movies that Halloween inspired. John Trent is another Carpenter alter ego, just like Snake Plisskin, John Nada or JJ MacReady. He has no faith in humanity and is a natural born cynic and therefore what lies ahead is the true test for him. His refusal to accept what is obviously real is what places him in the unfortunate position of being the last sane person in a world where everyone else has gone, well, insane.
Carpenter takes a good angle with the idea of fiction readers becoming hysterically obsessed with a writer’s work (think King, Rowling, Tolken, etc) that they actually begin to physically change, slowly metamorphosing into the strange creatures that live in the world of Sutter Kane’s highly addictive fiction. As they change, and as sure as night follows day, the world itself begins to change as evil forces from another dimension are slowly but surely becoming part of this dimension. With all this going on, Trent has to locate a FICTIONAL town called Hobbs End (a name inspired by Quatermass and the Pit (1967). – one of Carpenter’s favourite movies) where the reclusive and diabolical novelist is writing his new book entitled ‘In the Mouth of Madness’. The events that unfold after his arrival in Hobbs End forecast a chaotic, bloody, murderous end to the world as we know it. As the story progresses, it becomes a frantic broken web of narrative anarchy which will, at the end, unfortunately leave some viewers feeling somewhat short-changed.
This is by any standards a grade A Carpenter film. It is well handled, with some very effectively creepy / scary moments, but when we see the film's 'slimy things', we notice they have tentacles and other parts like The Thing does, and they look nowhere near as good. And nowhere near as effective. What does work though, are the ideas - the writing is good and one can sense a frustrated man at a typewriter (like the one Sutter Kane uses in the film) pulling his hair out at the challenge of writing a horror picture that displays freshness and innovation. The story is strong and is simply a good idea. There is only so long it can play for before the storywall starts crumbling in favour of complete madness though, as the audience are swallowed by a world of random, horrible events depicting monsters, slime, and horrible human disfigurements. Conventional narrative breaks down in favour of an unrelenting apocalyptic nightmare. Trent has no idea of what's coming next, and neither do we. That's why it works.
Sam Neill is brilliant as John Trent, and clearly relishes working with Carpenter again (they worked together on Memoirs of an Invisible Man). He doesn’t always play it straight and gives the character some cool comic touches and expressions. Jurgen Prochnow (from Das Boot and The Keep) is equally excellent as the evil and fantastically monikered Sutter Kane. Casting this role must have been a key decision for the entire production – he’s the man bringing about the end of the world - it just wouldn’t have worked with someone like Steve Martin or William H Macy…
This was the first Carpenter film yours truly enjoyed in the shared splendour of a cinema. Well, there was myself and perhaps three grannies who were probably only there to see Charlton Heston. I was at the front (surprise), and the crumblies were at the back. The audience was about 4-strong so, needless to say, it felt like a private screening for me. Perhaps most of the cinema-going population had given up on Carpenter by this point. Shame. But at least they probably didn’t bother to go see Vampire$ either. They didn’t miss much with that turkey…
Like The Thing, Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness delivers Carpenter’s take on the apocalypse theme. Like Halloween, The Fog, and most of his work, it’s effectively frightening. This one has its (die-hard Carpenter) critics, particularly when it comes to the “confusing” plot. I really don’t get that. It’s like this: Sutter Kane is writing the story the film is based on. Then, the novel becomes the film we are actually watching as Trent sits in the cinema, watching the film we are watching. Any sense of what is real or imaginary has collapsed. That, readers, is what they call a headfuck of a plot. Anyone who knows their ass from their tentacles will find this a different and rewarding horror film experience. Give it a try.
“I think therefore you are….like this town…it wasn’t here before I wrote it…and neither were you.”
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