In The Mouth Of Madness


“Lived any good books lately?”

John Trent (Sam Neil) is an insurance claims investigator who has just been hired to track down missing horror writer Sutter Cane (Jurgen Purchnow). Cane’s books are causing his readers to become murderous maniacs, and even causing them to mutate into monsters. Trent doesn’t believe the hype, citing the riots as “A pop phenomenon, just mass hysteria.” But as he gets closer to finding the missing author, he begins to question what is really reality and even his own sanity. ”If sane and insane switched places you would find yourself alone, wondering what happened to the world. It would be lonely being the last one left.” Just one great quote that foreshadows what’s in store for chain-smoking Sammy Neil in this one.

I fucking love this movie. I fucking love John Carpenter. Everything Carpenter puts on the screen you can bet I’ll be front row center eating it up (except “Ghosts of Mars”, that sucks). Mouth is one of his lesser-known flicks, but one of his best. Subtle visuals and constant plot twists are used throughout to fuck with the viewer’s head. Carpenter borrows from other horror classics, but it’s done with style. The results are a movie that you can watch over and over, and each time you notice something new.


This one starts out with our main character, John Trent, being committed. At first he fights the orderlies dragging his off to his padded room, but once inside he decides he’s safer in an asylum than outside in a world full of mutated literary fanatics. When a top psychologist shows up to evaluate him, Trent unravels the chain of bizarre events that led him to a cushioned room wearing a fashionable white jacket with sleeves that tie in the back.

Charlton ”Damn Dirty Apes!” Heston is Jackson Harglow, the owner of the publishing house that sends Trent and editor Linda Stiles (Julie Carmen) to find what happened to Sutter Cane and the new novel he’s been working on. The two end up in Hobb’s End, a small desolate town that also happens to be the setting of Cane’s last horror novel. Trent is convinced that it’s all a publicity stunt and the townsfolk, who all resemble characters from Cane’s books, are all actors. Johnny sees some strange shit but it isn’t until one of the townies blows his head off with a shotgun in front of him that he decides it’s time to make like a fetus and head out. He attempts to drive out of town, but the road disappears at every attempt and he ends up right back in Hobb’s End. This is one of the best scenes in the movie and when we realize JT is finally coming unglued.


Trent ends up finding Sutter Cane in a church, typing reality as it’s happening. Cane informs Trent that he is now god and his book “In the Mouth of Madness” is the new bible. Then Trent is given a copy of the manuscript, chased through a tunnel by a bunch of H.P.Lovecraft-type monsters, and spit out the other side into reality. Convinced the book will drive people insane, Trent tries to burn it. But the book keeps coming back to him like a bad case of genital warts. When he begs Heston not to publish it, Charlie tells him that it’s already been on bookstore shelves for weeks and the movie comes out next month. That’s when Johnboy decides to go axe-happy on some geek in a bookstore and gets locked up. It ends with a “Last Man On Earth” feel as everyone in the asylum disappears but him and he wanders into a movie theater showing “In the Mouth of Madness” starring none other than John Trent. He laughs hysterically at the screen…..The End. Brilliant.


Seek this one out and buy it because you’ll want to watch it again and again to catch little things like all the references to the color blue, and how people driven insane by Cane’s books all have double blue irises in each eye. And all the quotes early on that foreshadow how the movie will end up and the fate of our protagonist John Trent.

**This review is of the laserdisc edition of John Carpenter’s “In the Mouth of Madness”. This is one of those rare laserdiscs that actually has some special features like different versions of the movie trailer.

**Mouth of Madness Trivia: This film is the third installment in what Carpenter calls his “Apocalypse Trilogy”, which also includes “The Thing” and “Prince of Darkness”.
**Check out this link and see if you can identify the singer/bass player.

Getting hungry while sharpening an axe,



~ by exploitnation on March 26, 2008.

One Response to “In The Mouth Of Madness”

  1. Like you, DeadMike, I am a rabid John Carpenter-fan and next to “The Thing”, this is my favorite of his films. I think that this is the best Lovecraft-adaptation ever filmed without it being based on any of Lovecraft´s work. This one gets it right where so many other Lovecraft-inspired films have gotten it wrong. The scene where nice old lady who runs the hotel turns out to not be so nice, after all is a classic!
    Damn, I need to re-watch this one. Oh, and guess what? My Carpenter-worship have gone to such extreme lengths that I even enjoy “Ghosts of Mars”. Whenever I tell that to someone I feel like John trent at the end of this film when he wanders out of the asylum. I think I might be the only person in the world who really likes that movie…

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