Wednesday, August 24, 2011

bad/awesome flixxx review: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

"Every species can smell its own extinction. The last ones left won't have a pretty time with it. In ten years, maybe less, the human race will just be a bedtime story for their children. A myth, nothing more."- John Trent

"Never, Never, Never... throw chips at a driver."- John Trent

"Lady, nothing surprises me anymore. We fucked up the air, the water, we fucked up each other. Why don't we just finish the job by flushing our brains down the toilet?"- John Trent

I decided to do a John Carpenter marathon the other night, but I wanted to do it with some of his films that I hadn't seen in years and years or ever, if I could get my hands on them. I began with this little story that I had never seen, only heard about from friends who consider it one of their favorites. If someone else has a favorite John Carpenter movie and I haven't seen it, it makes me feel like I'm missing out, since many of his films are among my top ten ever or some of the other nerd listings that I could write being prodded in a nerderly direction. True to form, Carpenter delivers as always with a story that is not only well written, but also a commentary on some other medium that interests him. This time? Horror novels. There's definitely an homage to Lovecraft and Stephen King in here. If you like horror flicks and ones based on books, well then this flick is for you. Its a flick about a book made into a flick and the reality or non-reality that lies therein. Charleton Heston, Sam Neill, and a cast of "oh there's that guy"'s starring in IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS!!!

Our story begins with John Trent being dragged into an asylum and kicking a dude in the balls. They lock him up and he has a crazy vision. Then a dude comes to help him get out, and he says tell me how you ended up here. So Trent says ok, and it flashes back where we see Trent is an insurance scam investigator and he's busting a dude who is trying to scam Trent's boss. Trent reveals that the man is scamming along with his wife by showing his wife and mistress wearing items that were supposedly lost in a fire. Trent's boss says- man you are the best at your job, lemme hire you. Trent declines, he's his own man. But Trent's boss is like, ok, well, I have another gig for you, a big paying gig. He wants him to investigate the disappearance of a horror novel author named Sutter Cane. Right as he's telling him this, a dude with a fucking axe busts through the window of the cafe they're eating in, and asks him if he reads Cane, then attempts to hack Trent in two. But before he can do that, he's blown away by the cops.

So then Trent goes to see Charleton Heston who is Cane's publisher. He says find Cane or at least find his book, here take my hot(?) secretary to help you. So Trent reads some of Cane's books and starts having vivid nightmares with ghoulish creatures. Then he figures out that the covers cut up into pieces make a map of New Hampshire. So then, even though he thinks the whole thing is a bullshit publicity stunt, he takes Styles (the chick) up to New Hamphire to find Cane. Late in the night Styles is driving and passes a boy on a bike who gets older each time she passes. On the 3rd time, she hits him, then he gets up and rides off. Then she keeps driving, and suddenly the ground is gone, and the car is flying, then she goes through a weird bridge and then when she comes out of the bridge, its daytime. Trent thinks he slept through the night. They come out of the bridge into Hobb's End, a fictional town based in Cane's novels.

They check into a hotel and begin looking for Cane. They realize something weird is up because a painting keeps moving and this huge Black Church is there, and some shit happens from the new novel that only Styles has read and she tells Cane she's scared cause the whole thing was a scam, except none of it was supposed to be real, but it is. He's like BULLSHIT. She steals his keys and goes and finds Cane in the Black Church and he shows her the book IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, and then she's crazy and turns into like a backwards monster. Then some dude blows his head off cause he says Cane wrote him to do it, and this lil lady turns into an octopus monster and kills her husband. So Trent tries to split town, but keeps getting teleported back into the same angry mob trying to kill him. And Styles is riding on the bike with the "old man white hair kid". Creepy. So finally he wakes up and is in a confessional and Cane tells him that he has become God and that he is writing now from inside the novel. Trent STILL calls bullshit, and says impossible and all that. But Cane says nope, seriously, more people believe in my work than the bible, so it became true. And then he says Trent has to deliver the finished novel to Charleton Heston. Then he rips his own face off, and there's nothing there but an abyss, and the ripped time/space hole has words on the rips like a printed page. Trent stares into the void holding the finished manuscript, until monsters start to chase him. He falls and wakes up on the country road with a kid on a bike riding by in the daytime.

Trent leaves the book in the middle of the road, and checks into a hotel. Then he gets a package delivered to him in the morning with, you guessed it, the manuscript. He then burns it page by page and hops a greyhound back to the city. Cane shows up on his bus and turns the world blue for a second, but he realizes its only a dream. He goes to see Charleton Heston and Heston is like, what girl are you talking about? Are you crazy? Have you been reading the books? And he says well, that's why I don't have the book to give to you. Heston is like- you already gave me the novel 7 weeks ago. Trent is like WHAT? and then he hacks this kid in half. Thats why they throw him in the nuthouse. Ok, so story over, the guy leaves. Then Trent hears screams and horrible gnashing of teeth. His door is almost ripped off, and then the noise is gone. He opens the cell to a blood smeared asylum devoid of any humans. He walks down the empty streets, finds a movie theater, grabs some popcorn, and sits down to watch the film that we've just watched. He laughs his ass off. Then the movie ends. I'm pretty sure he's going crazy right there at the end as he realizes Cane was right, he was only a work of fiction, but who knows, that's just what I got from it. Otherwise it doesn't make all that much sense. But as far as it goes, this one is a very good stinker. The actress who played Styles is kind of bunk, the makeup was great for the slimey monstery guys, and the story was solid. If you dig Carpenter, you'll dig it.


  1. It's one of Carpenter's movies that are parked near my dvd reader from... endless time. After reading this, I'll give it a go tomorrow.

  2. It's one of the Carpenter's movies parked near my dvd reader from what it seems forever... I'll watch it tomorrow. Great review!
    If you like splatters you should try and find "Medley - School Shreds". Nice movie in the vein of Peter Jackson, filmed and Vicenza and distributed by Troma. ;)

  3. I've just never understood the appeal of this one! Watched it again very recently, and it's so static and shitty looking, despite all the weirdness going on. Really the only Carpenter I care about is THE THING, which is a masterpiece.