Monday, October 12, 2020

IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1995) Blu-ray Review

SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 11
Total First Time Views: 6
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $735.02 

In the Mouth of Madness (1995) d. John Carpenter (USA) (95 min) (3rd viewing)

“Do you read Sutter Cane?”

Called in to investigate the disappearance of popular horror writer Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow), insurance investigator John Trent (Sam Neill) attempts to determine whether or not the whole thing is a huge publicity stunt. Meanwhile, the release of Cane’s latest novel coincides with outbreaks of violence and maniacal behavior among the reading populace.

With echoes of Lovecraft’s mythology and blatant parallels to bestselling author Stephen King’s career, this represents one of Carpenter’s most intelligent and daring efforts. Written by executive producer Michael De Luca (his second and last screenplay before committing to big-time producing full-time), this is as imaginative and apocalyptic as Carpenter’s 1987 divisive Prince of Darkness, minus the cheesy acting and lame attempts at comedy.

Julie Carmen, whom genre fans will recognize from Fright Night II, plays Cane’s sexy/smart agent Linda Styles who ends up becoming Trent’s traveling companion to the mysterious Hobbs’ End, a cursed town depicted in Cane’s novels (an obvious stand-in for King’s Castle Rock, and a nod to Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit).

Nightmare imagery (such as shifting painting figures, the triple wake-up gag, and the “all roads lead to the angry mob” sequences) and a strong stripe of dark humor combine to create one of the finest horror films to examine the dodgy line between fiction and reality.

While Carpenter has often excelled in populating his ensembles with marvelous character actors, this may be one of his finest casting hours. While Neill and Carmen handle the heavy lifting, Peter Jason, Bernie Casey, Charlton Heston, David Warner, and John Glover enliven their every onscreen moment, with celebrated character actress Frances Bay (173 film/TV credits) as the quirky innkeeper Mrs. Pickman and former German wrestler Wilhelm von Homburg (Ghostbusters II) tendering memorable supporting turns. (Also look sharp to catch Skywalker-to-be Hayden Christensen as the mysterious nighttime paperboy. )

The squad behind the lens is just as strong, with DP Gary Kibbe (Body Bags, They Live) returning for the third of his eventual eight collaborations with Carpenter, along with six-time editor Edward A. Warschilka. Churning out the goopy, gory, and glistening makeup effects are none other than Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero and their KNB team delivering the goods. (I mean, how can you not love the “Wall of Monsters”?)

Arguably the last great effort from one of the greats (I know there are some apologists for The Ward and Ghosts of Mars out there, but really… come on), it’s a joy to see JC in his element, delivering the kind of fun, intelligent, and visceral horror film that still holds up a quarter-century on.


NEW 4K scan of the original film elements
NEW Audio commentary with director John Carpenter and producer Sandy King Carpenter
Audio commentary with director John Carpenter and cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe
NEW Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – A Look At The Film’s Locations Today (12 min)
NEW “The Whisperer Of The Dark” with Julie Carmen (10 min)
NEW “Greg Nicotero’s Things In The Basement” including Behind The Scenes Footage (17 min)
NEW “Home Movies From Hobb’s End” – Behind The Scenes Footage from Greg Nicotero (12 min)
“The Making of In The Mouth of Madness” Vintage Featurette (5 min)
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spots

In the Mouth of Madness is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:

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