A while back I decided to do a compilation of ALL of John Carpenter’s movies HERE, so I ordered them all up on Netflix and moved their position around here and there as I found something new I wanted to watch. Months passed and this showed up on my door and I gave it a watch. Over on Mark’s site we were talking about something or other and
I begged him for the 500th time he suggested we collaborate again on something and I fainted asked for an email so he sent over “How about In The Mouth of Madness, Mucker” and I said something like “HOT DAMN, Mucker! I just watched that yesterday!! It’s fate!!” and here we are. The idea of the “Double Take” is that you and I write up our thoughts on a movie and then I post both of them at the same time, out here and our readers get TWICE the fun!! You can see any of the past efforts HERE and if you’re interested in doing something like this with me, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email to email@example.com.
In The Mouth Of Madness – or let’s go with IMOM for short – is the last J.C. movie I saw in the theaters. Why? Because I really didn’t like this very much and he followed this up with some Kirstie Alley / Christopher Reeve movie called Village of the Damned which looked stupid and then the ABYSMAL FUCKING DISASTER PIECE OF SHIT YOU MAKE ME SO SAD Escape From L.A. which almost ruined my will to continue. Is it that bad, you drama queen, you ask? Yes. It took everything that was brilliant from my youth – my hero Snake Plissken – and shit right on his fucking face.
But let’s not talk any longer about that because I’ll just get all worked up and pissed off again. Let’s talk about IMOM. When I watched this other week I instantly remember that I didn’t care much for it to begin with and things didn’t really change as I made my way through it again. The characters were really bland, to me, it was the 90s so the style of the time was shit – especially the hairdos, I didn’t really find Sam Neill that believable and – if this is a spoiler I apologize – the Cthulu monsters looked terrible. Also – the sequence leading up to the end didn’t do anything for me and the actual end kind of made me laugh.
J.C. holds a special place in my heart for some of his earlier movies that are among my favorites. Maybe it’s because he didn’t write this?? I don’t know, but not much in this worked for me. Sam Neill? No. The other lead, Julie Carmen? UH-UH. Jürgen Prochnow? *turns to the camera with straight face* o_o…….. never. The premise? A horror genre writer’s books are more popular than the Bible. Thus, he is more influential than everything that’s written in there. Thus, due to the nature of belief and shit, what he writes about becomes The Truth and it’s the end of the world, those poor fuckers!!
Now that that’s over with, let’s look at what Mark had to say. BTW – if you ever do decide to do one of these with me, we write separately and don’t discuss so there’s no slant. I have no idea how Mark feels about this until he sends it to me to post.
After “The Thing” in 1982 and “Prince Of Darkness” in 1987, director John Carpenter completed his self-titled ‘Apocalypse trilogy’ in 1994 with “In The Mouth Of Madness”. Unfortunately, by this point, Carpenter couldn’t get any strong studio backing for his projects and as a result his excellent concepts never really took off as well as they could have. This film is another example of the financial problems that he was facing.
When renowned horror writer Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow) makes a sudden disappearance, strange things begin to happen. His ability to describe evil, literally, starts to come to life and effect everyone in society. To investigate his mysterious disappearance, Insurance investigator John Trent (Sam Neill) is sent to a little East Coast town called Hobb’s End. However, this little town is actually a figment of Cane’s imagination and Trent soon finds himself questioning his own sanity as he is drawn further and further into the dark recesses of Cane’s twisted mind.
As always with Carpenter, the concept and premise is one of sheer brilliance and it possesses more than few references to real life horror writers Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft but unlike his previous efforts there is something amiss here. Maybe it’s because Carpenter doesn’t actually write the script himself or even compose the soundtrack with the idiosyncratic and atmospheric style that fans of his will be accustomed to. Despite the excellent premise, I found that the films major issue was a lack of drive. It didn’t catch me the way it did when I first seen it. Also, it suffers from a failure to bring a depth to any character other than Sam Neill’s investigator. Sutter Cane is a very intriguing antagonist with a lot of potential but he features very little and when he does appear, the films budget is tested in order to realise it’s horror. All in all, this struck me as an attempt from Carpenter to appeal to a wider audience and as a result sacrificed the very style that made him a unique filmmaker to begin with. That’s not to say that this is a poor film. It’s not. It’s very cleverly constructed and for the most part, very well delivered. Carpenter is a master at his build up and construction of atmosphere, meanwhile, cleverly unravelling the mystery. However, the film takes a little too long to get going and just when it’s hitting it crescendo, it feels rushed and over a bit too soon.
For the most part, Carpenter does well to blur the lines between fantasy and reality but ultimately it doesn’t quite come together as obscurity and pretentiousness creep in. It’s a great attempt, but Carpenter has delivered better.