In the Mouth of Madness
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|In the Mouth of Madness|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Carpenter|
|Produced by||Sandy King|
|Written by||Michael De Luca|
|Music by||John Carpenter
|Cinematography||Gary B. Kibbe|
|Editing by||Edward A. Warschilka|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Running time||95 minutes|
|Box office||$8,946,600 (USA)1|
In the Mouth of Madness (also known as John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness) is a 1995 American Lovecraftian horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter and written by Michael De Luca, who was at the time of the film's release in charge of New Line Cinema. It stars Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, David Warner and Charlton Heston. The film is the third installment in what Carpenter calls his Apocalypse Trilogy, preceded by The Thing and Prince of Darkness.
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Dr. Wrenn visits John Trent, a patient in a psychiatric hospital, and asks Trent to recount his story:
After exposing an arson-fraud scam, Trent, an insurance investigator, has lunch with a colleague who preps him on his next assignment, investigating a claim made by New York-based Arcane Publishing. During their conversation, Trent is attacked by a man wielding an axe who asks him, "Do you read Sutter Cane?" The man is shot dead by a police officer before he can harm Trent.
Trent later meets with Arcane Publishing director Jackson Harglow who tasks him with investigating the disappearance of popular horror novelist Sutter Cane. Cane vanished days before his latest book was released, and Harglow requests that Trent recover the manuscript for Cane's final novel of his popular series. He assigns Cane's editor, Linda Styles, to accompany him—Cane's agent will be of no help as he was the man with the axe who tried to kill Trent earlier.
After reading several of Cane's novels for research, Trent experiences vivid nightmares of monsters and deformed people murdering each other with axes. Linda explains the stories are known to cause disorientation, memory loss, and paranoia in "less stable readers." Trent remains skeptical, convinced that the disappearance is merely an elaborate publicity stunt. Trent notices a series of red lines on Cane's book's covers that, when aligned properly, form the outline of New Hampshire and mark a location alluded to be Hobb's End, the fictional setting for many of Cane's works.
As they set out to find the town, Linda experiences bizarre phenomena during the late-night drive: a boy riding a bicycle whose visage changes as she somehow passes him three times, the yellow road lines vanishing followed by the road itself disappearing, the car driving above thunderhead storm clouds, entering a rustic covered bridge in darkness and inexplicably arriving on the other side at Hobb's End in daylight. Trent and Linda search the small town and begin encountering fictional people and landmarks described in Cane's novel, including Mrs. Pickman, whose hotel they check into, and the Black Church, described in Cane's books as a fount of evil that pollutes the entire town. Trent and Linda watch as a group of townspeople arrive at the Black Church wielding shotguns and torches, demanding Cane return a missing child. Johnny, the son of one of men of the group, suddenly appears in the doorway to the Church, supplanted by Cane himself. The townspeople are then set upon by dogs and driven off. Trent believes the events to be staged, but Linda does not. She admits to Trent that Arcane Publishing's claim was indeed a fraud and a stunt to promote Cane's book. However, the unusual events and exact replica of Hobb's End were never part of the plan.
Trent prepares to go back to report to Harglow, but is prevented when Linda steals the car keys. She heads to the Black Church to confront Cane, and is exposed to his final novel, In The Mouth Of Madness, driving her insane. Trent is approached at a bar by Johnny's father who warns him to leave before the evil infects him as it has the inhabitants of Hobb's End. Trent later returns to the bar and witnesses the man commit suicide with a shotgun as he proclaims to merely be a character written to do it. Outside the bar, a mob of mutated, monstrous-looking townspeople descend upon him with shotguns and torches. He flees to the hotel and discovers that Mrs. Pickman (who had been tormenting her husband and finally killed him) and Linda have also been altered into mutated versions of their former selves. Trent attempts to drive away from Hobb's End but is repeatedly teleported back to the center of town, subsequently crashing while swerving to avoid hitting Linda. He awakens in a confessional where Cane explains that the popularity of his eldritch stories have created a sufficient amount of belief to free an ancient race of monstrous beings that will reclaim the Earth. Cane further reveals that Trent himself is merely a character and has no choice but to return the manuscript of In The Mouth Of Madness to Arcane Publishing, ushering the end of humanity.
After giving Trent the manuscript, Cane tears his face open like a piece of paper, ripping a hole that leads into darkness and creating a portal to the dimension of Cane's monstrous masters. Trent flees down a long tunnel as monsters chase him and he suddenly finds himself lying on a country road, apparently back in reality. During his return to New York, Trent destroys the manuscript, but it somehow is redelivered to him, prompting Trent to destroy it again and again. Back at Arcane Publishing, Trent relates his experience to Harglow and explains why he has no manuscript to return. Harglow informs him that Linda never existed; Trent was sent alone to find Cane. What is more, Trent himself had delivered the manuscript to Harglow months ago. In The Mouth Of Madness has been on sale for weeks with a movie adaptation set to release soon. Trent suffers a psychotic break and is arrested after he murders a reader of the newly released novel with an axe, asking him "Do you like the book?"
Dr. Wrenn, after listening to Trent recount his story, concludes that Trent's story answers nothing and leaves. That night, amidst a thunderstorm, Trent sees disturbing shadows flicker on the wall and hears human and inhuman screams echo throughout the hospital.
Trent wakes the following day to find his cell door torn from its hinges and the residents of the hospital slaughtered. He departs as an abandoned ambulance's radio announces that the world has been overrun with mutant creatures and outbreaks of suicide and mass murder. Trent goes to see the In the Mouth of Madness metafilm only to discover that he is the 'star' of the film. As he watches his previous actions play out on screen, Trent bursts into laughter which becomes more and more hysterical before finally turning into sobs of despair.
- Sam Neill as John Trent
- Julie Carmen as Linda Styles
- Jürgen Prochnow as Sutter Cane
- David Warner as Dr. Wrenn
- John Glover as Saperstein
- Bernie Casey as Robinson
- Peter Jason as Mr. Paul
- Charlton Heston as Jackson Harglow
- Frances Bay as Mrs. Pickman
- Kieran Sells as Kid
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The exterior of the Black Church seen in Hobb’s End is actually the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. It is a Slovak Byzantine Rite Roman Catholic former cathedral located in Markham, Ontario.2 Presently the church is now surrounded by newly built homes called Cathedraltown. The location of the Cathedral is closest to the intersection of Woodbine Ave. & Vine Cliff Blvd. At the time of filming the church had yet to be fully completed.
When first entering the town of Hobbs End, the main characters walk along an empty street. It was referenced as Main Street USA. This street is in fact located in Unionville, Ontario, Canada, and is actually named Main Street. The scene where the children are seen running out onto the street is in fact a parking lot that connects directly to an elementary public school called Parkview.
The film pays tribute to the work of seminal horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, with many references to his stories and themes. Its title is a play on two of Lovecraft's tales, The Shadow Over Innsmouth and At the Mountains of Madness, and insanity plays as great a role in the film as it does in Lovecraft's fiction. The opening scene depicts Trent's confinement to an asylum with the bulk of the story told in flashback, a common technique of Lovecraft's. Quick reference is made to the Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos, as well as to Lovecraftian settings and characters (such as Mrs. Pickman). As read on-screen, Sutter Cane's writings even incorporate direct passages from his work.3 All of Sutter Cane's novels have similar titles to H.P. Lovecraft's books (e.g., The Hobb's End Horror in reference to The Dunwich Horror).
The film can also be seen as a reference to Stephen King, who, like Lovecraft, also writes horror fiction set in New England hamlets.45 King is even mentioned towards the beginning of the movie; it is suggested that Cane's work is more frightening than King's and that he out sells him.
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In the Mouth of Madness was released on February 3, 1995. It grossed $3,441,807 the first weekend and garnered $8,946,600 total in revenue during its run.1 It was a financial disappointment, but it did earn enough to cover the film's budget.
- "In the Mouth of Madness (1995) – Box Office Mojo". BoxOfficeMojo.com. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- "In the Mouth of Madness production still". theofficialjohncarpenter.com. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
- One of Sutter Cane's quotes is pulled directly from Lovecraft's work. Compare Lovecraft's original: "I did not shriek, but all the fiendish ghouls that ride the nightwind shrieked for me as in that same second there crashed down upon my mind a single and fleeting avalanche of soul-annihilating memory." (HP Lovecraft The Outsider). And Sutter Cane's: "Trent's eyes refused to close, he did not shriek, but the hideous unholy abominations shrieked for him, as in the same second he saw them spill and tumble upwards out of an enormous carrion black pit, choked with the gleaming white bones of countless unhallowed centuries." "Carrion black pit" is a phrase that recurs repeatedly in several Lovecraft stories.
- Chris Hicks (1995-02-07). "Deseret News: In the Mouth of Madness Review". Deseret News. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- Frazer, Bryant. In the Mouth of Madness
- "In the Mouth of Madness Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- Cahiers du Cinema/ Top Ten Lists 1951-2009 -> 1995. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
- "High-Def Disc News → 'In the Mouth of Madness' Dated for Blu-ray". High-Def Digest. 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
- In the Mouth of Madness at the Internet Movie Database
- In the Mouth of Madness at allmovie
- In The Mouth of Madness at theofficialjohncarpenter.com