IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Michael De Luca
Stars: Sam Neill, Jürgen Prochnow, Julie Carmen
My previous viewings of In The Mouth of Madness were far more focused on the Stephen King reference points than the HP Lovecraft ones. Having just seen COLOR OUT OF SPACE, and discussing it at length with my partner, who is a big Lovecraft aficionado, I got to come to this movie with a bit of second-hand knowledge that made it even more enjoyable than my previous viewings.
In the Mouth of Madness makes a great double feature with COLOR OUT OF SPACE, I think. It has a similar structure, which I can’t describe in any way other than “intentionally obscure”, where the events play out for us in the same way and order they playout for the protagonist. In other words, as they lose track of time and place, so do we. I used to find that frustrating and confusing experience. I suppose I still do, but that’s the point, and now I’m able to enjoy it for what it is.
Sam Neil is a ton of fun in this movie. I am very curious about how he and John Carpenter got along. Or how Carpenter even explained where he needed to be emotionally at any given time in the movie.
This is part of Carpenter’s supposed Apocalypse Trilogy, but what strikes me about all three of those movies (THE THING, this, and PRINCE OF DARKNESS) is that they also have a lot in common with THEY LIVE. Carpenter seems to have obsessed over the notion that we know absolutely nothing. Whatever it is we think we know, whether we’ve sourced it from religion, science, or pop culture, it’s flat out wrong and doesn’t reflect anything about the actual nature of the universe. Further, this is partly due to us living under the control of a yet unknown entity, be it an alien race, a world order, or an interdimensional god.
I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but what’s interesting about Carpenter’s visions of the Apocalypse is in every case they’ve already happened—we just don’t know it yet. The aliens are already here/there never was a God/reality is a grand fiction. I quoted this the last time I watched this, but it continues to get more relevant:
“When people begin to lose their ability to know the difference between fantasy and reality, the old ones then begin their journey back. The more people who believe, the faster the journey.”
Editors Note: This review was previously written on Garrett’s Letterboxd. You can read more of his work there.