John Carpenter directs actors Sam Neil, Jürgen Prochnow and even Charlton Heston in the 1995 movie In the Mouth of Madness. The film opens with every writer’s dream, the act of a book being printed for later sales. It is after this opening credit scene that we witness an ambulance rushing to what we find out to be a psychiatric hospital. The man being driven to the asylum is Insurance Investigator John Trent (Neil).
Dr. Wrenn comes to visit Trent to question his story and if possible get him out of the asylum. Dr. Wrenn is eventually led to the cell that Trent has been held in and as he arrives he finds something quite interesting. Trent has used a black crayon to cover his cell, his clothing and his skin with hundreds of crosses. As Dr. Wrenn begins to talk to Trent we get a look what drove this man into the madness he has found himself in.
The story starts off easy enough as we find Trent questioning a man about a warehouse fire. The man expecting to be paid for his claim on the warehouse is tripped up by the facts Trent has found. Trent’s abilities continue to impress the insurance company’s owner and the men eventually go out to lunch. At lunch Trent is offered a full time job with the company, but he prefers to continue to work freelance. As the two men enjoy their lunch an odd scene develops behind them: a man comes out of a store and begins marching toward the men carrying an ax. People scream and run to get out of the man’s way as he crosses the street. The man eventually comes to their window and with a swing of his axe breaks the window. It appears he is going to kill Trent with the ax, but the man stops to ask him if he reads Sutter Cane. Cane being the man Trent just heard has gone missing and could cost his insurance company friend millions. The would be killer is promptly shot to death before he can deliver a blow.
Trent eventually finds himself in the offices of Arcane Publishing who’s director, Jackson Harglow (Heston) wants him to go and find the disappeared horror writer Sutter Can. As Harglow begins to discuss Cane with Trent, we find that the man has an appeal far reaching any modern writer. One could almost compare Cane’s works with those of H. P. Lovecraft.
Trent eventually takes the job and he and a representative of Arcane head out to find the missing Sutter Cane (Prochnow). The problem as the pieces start to get put together regarding where Cane maybe Trent begins to find himself have disturbing dreams and unfortunately for him, this is only the beginning. In the Mouth of Madness is more of a psychological horror film but does have some elements of straight horror within the film. We also follow along as Trent has to answer a major question; the question being is he part of the book?
Carpenter again shows why he has fascinated horror fans for decades. The setting of this film along with the way Carpenter is able to get a story told comes alive in this film. You will enjoy following along as the mythical town of Hobbs End is searched for and shocked as items from the new book may start to come true Carpenter is at his best in these type of films and draws upon a great cast to tell a story that many have not seen. In the Mouth of Madness along with the pre-reviewed, The Thing, are part of Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy with Prince of Darkness being the final film. Fans of Carpenter’s films will thoroughly enjoy this movie and the cast turns in performances that shine.