Thursday, 11 October 2012

31 Days Of Horror - Day 11: In The Mouth Of Madness (1994)

An insurance investigator begins discovering that the impact a horror writer's books have on his fans is more than inspirational.

H.P. Lovecraft and film have rarely mixed well on screen, but when it is successful it's fantastic! So fellow Horror fans, it's my honour to introduce to you a John Carpenter masterpiece, "In The Mouth Of Madness".

The film is considered the third film in what John Carpenter has called his 'Apocalypse Trilogy', the first being "The Thing" and the second being "Prince Of Darkness". Carpenter had been having a bad time before being given the directing job for this film, after the box-office failure of "Memoirs Of An Invisible Man" his only work in the 3 years that followed was a segment for the TV movie "Body Bags".

Carpenter is a man who has always risen from the ashes of his failures and with "In The Mouth Of Madness" he returned with a bang. He took on a very difficult script and made it look so easy to transfer on-to screen and for a film that's so out there that is no simple task. He definitely made the world of Lovecraft come alive and throw in a mixture of Stephen King and you have a perfect mixture.

I have serious high praise for Sam Neill's performance in this film, I've always regarded him as a great actor but he really pulls out all the stops here. This is easily my favourite role of his, he makes the film seem so believable, so good it sometimes mesmerises me. Yes he is THAT good of an actor.

One qualm people seem to have with the film is the over use of the effects, I don't have a problem with it. I see the effects used as Carpenters own stamp on the film along with his trademark use of using the dark and shadows to draw us in and scare us, he really is a genius when it comes to that and the use of it here is as good as the way he used it in "Halloween"

Personally this is one of my favourites, a film I never bore of watching. I consider this film a masterpiece, which is probably why this review may seem biased. Unfortunately the film has become hard to find, you can buy it but only if you're willing to pay a high price but trust me it truly is worth your time.

If you want to see the "In The Mouth Of Madness" trailer then just click on the video below:

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

The small town is named "Hobb's End", an in-joke reference to the subway station where the alien ship is excavated in the movie Five Million Years to Earth.

Contains many references to H.P. Lovecraft's stories, for example is the Name of the hotel and hotel owner "Pickman", a reference to the short story "Pickman's Model".

The Sutter Cane character is clearly based on John Carpenter's friend Stephen King, even referencing King's New England roots, with Hobb's Corner filling in for King's Castle Rock. Carpenter directed a film version of King's Christine. Additionally Michael De Luca had previously written the screenplay for the King adaptation The Lawnmower Man. However, the characters say that Sutter Cane is even more popular than Stephen King.

The monster movie that Trent sees on the television was a real movie. The scene was from Phil Tucker's Robot Monster.

The dozens of monsters featured towards the end of the film were a combination of men in suits, animatronics and a full-sized "wall" of creatures. It took over thirty people to operate the monsters.

The Mrs. Pickman creature was shot as a miniature. Originally it was a man in a suit prosthetic, but John Carpenter didn't find it convincing enough.

When J├╝rgen Prochnow lets the monsters from the other side into our world, originally in the script the entire town was sucked into the other side. When this proved to be too costly, an effects artist over at Industrial Light and Magic recommended that instead he "tears" himself apart like paper.

Sam Neill, a director himself, suggested to director John Carpenter that he shoot some of the scenes in the hotel from above.

The car keys that Julie Carmen swallows when Sam Neill is trying to escape from town were made out of pasta.

Robot Monster, which Sam Neill is watching at the end of the movie, was one of director John Carpenter's favourite monster movies as a kid.

During the scene where a hand breaks through the glass of Sam Neill's cell, a piece of fake glass cut his neck.

The effect of Julie Carmen spinning her head around was done by having a contortionist stunt-double wear an up-side down prosthetic mask of Carmen's face. Since the stunt double couldn't see, John Carpenter had to guide her on where to go by sound.

Hobb is an old word which was used to refer to the devil

The six Sutter Cane novels which Trent uses to track down the town of Hobb's End are the following: "The Hobb's End Horror", "The Feeding", "The Whisperer in the Dark", "Something in the Cellar", "The Breathing Tunnel" and "Haunter Out of Time".

In the film, the works of Sutter Cane are occasionally quoted. Most if not all of these quotes are actually taken directly from several H.P. Lovecraft short stories with some adaptations to fit them into the film story. Most notably, in the scene where Styles reads to Trent as he gazes into the abyss--her speech lifts much of its description, including such elements as "the illimitable gulf of the unknown" from the last few paragraphs of Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls." In an earlier scene as well, Trent reads a line verbatim from Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark," in reference to the black church being "the seat of an evil older than mankind and wider than the known universe."

At one point during filming of the "Wall of Monsters" sequence, the Wall of Monsters ran over Gregory Nicotero's foot.

At the end of the film, when Sam Neill approaches the movie theater showing the meta-film, the following credits can be seen (though some names are slightly blurred) on the movie poster outside the theater: "New Line Cinema Presents a John Carpenter Film 'In the Mouth of Madness' Starring John Trent, Linda Styles, Jackson Harglow, Written by Michael De Luca, Associate Producer Artist Robinson, Director of Photography Gary B. Kibbe, Production Designer Jeff Steven Ginn, Produced by Sandy King, Director John Carpenter." Except for the three lead character names, all the other credits are for the real film's actual crew.

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