John Carpenter’s In The Mouth of Madness is a classic horror film which, for some god forsaken reason, is yet to receive a proper region 2 release here in the UK. A missed opportunity for one of Carpenter’s finest films, this is a horror film that is spoken about in high regard by many genre fans, and regarded as one of the best horror films of the 90’s, and for good reason.
The literal descent into madness by Sam Neill’s insurance investigator, John Trent, is superbly realised by Carpenter’s inch perfect direction. The plot alone for this film is intriguing enough to keep you hooked from beginning to end as Trent investigates the disappearance of horror author Sutter Cane. Trent belives it to be a publicity stunt, but there are stories of the author’s work actually driving its readers insane. With Cane’s new book, In the Mouth of Madness, hitting book stores, Trent must find him, quickly. However, once he starts reading Cane’s novel’s, Trent begins suffering horrific visions and nightmares, eventually leading him to a fictional place called Hobb’s End, a place he expects to find Cane.
This film is a real horror with some unexpected twists, turns and shocks. Carpenter cranks up the tension and menace, and many scenes here will haunt your memories for a long long time after. One such scene is the when Trent meets, unknowingly, Cane’s agent. Trent is having a meeting in a cafe, and while discussing his new client, waiting outside the cafe window is a strange, tall man in a long rain coat. He approaches the window, staring at Trent with frightening intensity. Axe in his hand, he is a fearsome sight, and passer’s by are quickly moving out of the way. Trent has no idea what is about to happen…
Carpenter lets rip in terrific fashion as Cane’s axe wielding agent swings at the window of the cafe and smashes his way towards Trent. The scene is created remarkably well, and you keep expecting someone to stop Cane’s agent before he gets to Trent, but he does get to him. Trent is terrified, wedged under a table as Cane’s agent comes right up to his face. His blue, glaring, almost possessed eyes, strange clothing and dirty appearance will test your nerves, and when he speaks it is unexpected how he sounds. “Do you read Sutter Cane?”, he quizzes in a bizarre, almost helium induced voice, a worried Trent looks confused, and as he is about to swing his axe and murder Trent, the cops step in, blasting him back out of the cafe and onto the street, dead.
This is Trent’s first meeting with a true Cane fanatic, but it won’t be his last. The scene cleverly opens up the sinister, mysterious world of Sutter Cane’s almost cult like followers in chilling fashion, and is one of Carpenter’s high points of his most recent output. The scene is ballsy, scary and so unexpected that if you were not already hooked by this superb horror film, then you will be now. A real classic scene with a terrific death for its finale which serves, in all honesty, as the turning point in both the film, and in Trent’s decent into the monstrous world of Cane’s twisted mind.