It’s been 25 years since John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness first graced the screen and the creepy, Lovecraft-inspired film will still send a chill down your spine. It was the third film in what Carpenter came to call his Apocalypse Trilogy. The two previous films were The Thing and Prince of Darkness.
Written by Michael De Luca (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), the film focuses on John Trent (Sam Neill), an insurance investigator hired by a high-powered publisher (Charlton Heston) to track down Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow), a horror writer whose ravenous fans are turning violent while waiting for the author’s latest work.
Trent soon finds himself on the road with Cane’s editor Linda Styles (Julie Carmen) in search of Hobb’s End, a small East Coast village where Cane sets all his work. Hobb’s End is supposed to be fiction, but as Trent and Linda soon find out, it’s very real and teeming with the horrors that Cane created.
De Luca mined the work of H.P. Lovecraft–the film’s title is taken from At the Mountains of Madness which Lovecraft published in 1936–culling actual lines of dialogue from the author’s stories and tweaking them to fit the narrative he created in the film. Further, he employed references to Lovecraft’s work in naming various places within the film.
In the Mouth of Madness was a somewhat complicated film and not for the faint of heart. It had a way of sort of burrowing into your brain, much like Sutter Cane’s novels in the film. (The titles of all those novels, by the way, are direct references to Lovecraft titles, but I’ll let you figure those out on your own!)
Nevertheless, the film released to mixed reviews and a lukewarm response from audience taking in just under $9 million, but then, as these things so often do, home video sales numbers began to grow and the film had soon gained a cult following that is as strong today as it was back then.
Want to start a conversation? Ask “Do you read Sutter Cane?” the next time your horror-loving friends are all in the same room together.
In the Mouth of Madness is currently streaming for free on Vudu and is available for rent on Prime Video, AppleTV, FandangoNow, and GooglePlay! If you haven’t seen it, you’re long overdue, and if you have, well, it’s definitely time for an anniversary viewing.