In The Mouth Of Madness – Film Review


When celebrated insurance investigator John Trent is hired to find missing superstar horror author Sutter Cane by his publishing company, little does he know that this seemingly mundane investigation would propel him into… The Mouth Of Madness!

Cast: Sam Neill, Jurgen Prochnow, David Warner, Julie Carmen, Charlton Heston. Written by: Michael De Luca. Directed by: John Carpenter.


Reality is a strange beast, one persons perception of it can be wholly different from anothers, reality is ultimately based on conjecture, of the state of things as they are, or appear to be, it is the culmination of all your experiences that fundamentally determines how things appear to you. John Carpenter’s 1994 classic In The Mouth Of Madness takes reality and breaks it, reassembles it, and then smashes it into sub atomic particles, stamps on them, and then sets them on fire… reality takes a real hammering in this mind warping psychological horror from the maestro of the macabre. 

When we first meet our movies protagonist John Trent (Sam Neill) he is garbed in a strait-jacket and being unceremoniously dumped into an isolation cell in a psychiatric hospital. From this inauspicious beginning, we are transported back to discover how this seemingly intelligent and grounded professional ends up in a padded cell, on the wrong end of materiality.


Trailblazing master of horror, John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) expertly channels HP Lovecraft, especially his novella Mountains Of Madness, for this stylish and perplexing horror thriller. Carpenter is one of the pioneers of the horror genre thanks to his ground-breaking horror masterpiece Halloween, and is the perfect choice to bring the Lovecraftian inspired original script by Michael De Luca to life, and has informally described the film as the last part of his Apocalypse Trilogy preceded by The Thing and Prince Of Darkness

Carpenter’s movie reflects superbly the meta-fiction style of storytelling, meta-fiction is a device used in literature and film to describe a break in the proverbial fourth wall, a story within a story or where the characters of the fictional account realise they are just that… characters. Carpenter plays with this genre device beautifully and serves the viewer an almost flawless meta-physical and mind-bending thriller with so many twists and turns that even after a second viewing you will still want to re-visit it to discover  the many allusions and clues expertly hidden throughout the film.


Remarkably well acted by the eclectic and talented cast, with Sam Neill (as is quite often the case) the most outstanding as the initially over-confident, yet increasingly bewildered principal player. Jurgen Prochnow plays missing horror author Sutter Cane, Trent’s personal holy grail, and gives a wonderful performance as an amalgam of infinite calm and dark mania. They are both backed up by a sensational secondary cast that includes English thespian David Warner as Trent’s psychiatrist, Julie Carmen as Linda Styles, Cane’s agent and Trent’s initial guide, plus Charlton Heston as the owner of Cane’s publishing company.

Though psychological horror plays a large part in the film, it still gives up the goods as far as straight up gore is concerned, plus there are some excellent creature effects, with a notably Lovecraftian look and feel. The film’s score is, as ever, by Carpenter himself and is fantastic, orchestrating with the onscreen visuals perfectly.


If you like your horror deep, strange and intriguing, with a side of the macabre, then In The Mouth Of Madness is for you. Carpenter weaves a dreamlike world, that is in essence an almost perfect blend of HP Lovecraft and Stephen King. It is in equal measure innovative and haunting, and is one of the most inventive and twisted movies that Carpenter has ever wrought upon the viewer. Infinitely re-watchable, thanks to cleverly hidden clues and imagery, with outstanding acting turns from the talented cast, especially lead actor Sam Neill. Are You Prepared To Delve Into The Mouth Of Madness?

imom rating

About Bruce Hodder (formerly known as ArcaneHalloween)

Fanatical about comics, gaming and horror movies... but then isn't everyone?

Posted on October 31, 2020, in Horror, Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Kupoberry Mooglenut

    Horrortastic review! Gonna see if I can get this movie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much my friend, lovely to see you in the Precinct for Sam’Hain! It’s a fantastic film, one of my absolute fave Carpenter movies, twisty turny, spooky and the perfect Halloween movie! Happy Halloween sir! 🙂


  2. As I’m a great fan of the Mythos I’ve always wanted to see this movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great flick! Carpenter is THE man!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love John Carpenter films but I haven’t seen this one. I’m definitely gonna give it a watch now 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey mate, hope you had a great Halloween 🎃!
    Take care and stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there my friend, I did indeed have a spook-tastic Halloween, hope you did too! Stay safe and take care also, we are heading into a country wide lockdown in the UK from this Thursday, so at least I’ll be afforded lots of time to write stuff!! Have a great Sunday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome review! Definitely one I need to add to be To-Watch List! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m in! Never seen this, so will look out for it. Nice review, Arcane!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ITMOM had some fine moments. What do think was Carpenter’s last great film?.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do really love ITMOM, which I probably think was his last really great movie, apart from his music I don’t believe he’s done a great deal of movie work since, I was not a fan of his last full cinematic offering – Ghost Of Mars, though I did love his short for Masters of Horror – Cigarette Burns.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks so much for the revue, otherwise I might have missed this movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You made some excellent points and I’m thrilled to see this underrated gem get some appreciation.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. An EXCELLENT, horrifying film! xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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