John Carpenter is one of the undisputed masters of the horror genre. But when it comes to his films, although Halloween may be his most well known masterpiece, I find fans tend to be separated into three groups when it comes to their favorite film of Carpenters. There are the die hards that stick with Halloween, the group that I belong in that holds Prince of Darkness highest, and the third group tends to favor Carpenter’s 1994 creepfest In the Mouth of Madness as their holy grail. All three are brilliant films in their own ways and although I am in group 2, I would happily be stranded on a desert island with any of the three. With the first two already on Blu-ray, this week is the week we round out the top 3 and welcome In the Mouth of Madness to the realm of high definition.
When famed pulp horror author Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow) goes missing before turning in his latest bestseller-to-be, his publisher hires insurance investigator John Trent (Sam Neill) to track down the missing manuscript where he ends up in the ficticous town of Hobb’s End and into a surreal nightmare of Cane’s creating.
In the Mouth of Madness was heavily and lovingly inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and Carpenter just makes it work. Neill is exceptional in the role of Trent and while he may not be usually thought of as a horror actor, he has done some of his best work in the genre. The story by Michael De Luca is a twisty nightmarish fever dream and works on every level. His script manages to be Lovecraftian without being plagiaristic, which is hard enough to do when you are not attempting to enter the unique world of Lovecraft. De Luca keeps the pace brisk, the surrealism tangible and well executed, and the horror stays firmly placed under the skin where it belongs. Even coming up on its 20th anniversary, there are still scenes from In the Mouth of Madness that creep me out.
The Blu-ray from Warner Home Video is very nice indeed. For a 20 year old film the picture is still bright with great clarity and detail and a fine grain that delicately compliments the picture. The colors are vibrant and overall this is a stellar catalog release from Warner and a surprise in terms of how good the transfer turned out. A definite must buy for horror fans.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.