It's poco here, with a quick recommendation of something I think is cool! I may do some more of these posts, or this may be the last one you ever see! Soy un poco misterioso...
So it's October, the time for scary movies! Perhaps you are a fan of them! Perhaps you are a fan of Stephen King! Perhaps you prefer the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft! Perhaps, just perhaps, you haven't seen this movie yet. If two or more of these descriptions fit, then boy do I have a treat for you: John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness.
The story is centered on a Stephen-King-esque horror writer, Sutter Cane (played by the amazing Jürgen Prochnow), a bestselling author whose books have become notorious for a psychotic effect on their readers. Our main character is an insurance claims investigator played by Sam Neill, in what I consider to be his single best performance, Jurassic Park be damned. He's investigating Cane's sudden and unexplained disappearance at the behest of his publisher (hey! It's Charleton Heston!), and with the help of Cane's editor (played by Julie Carmen).
It's a rather classic setup. Neill plays the consummate cynic, a master of spotting insurance fraud. He smells a publicity stunt on the publisher's part; a ploy to juice book sales with creepy rumors. However, what follows tests his sanity, bending it past the point of breaking, and calling the very nature of his reality and perception into question (the film plays this card rather early in the opening scene, then flashes back to the preceding events, so this isn't exactly a spoiler... also you could probably figure out this was going to happen just by reading the title...).
There's some Cronenberg-esque body horror, some good ol' fashioned creepy children, a takeoff on Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos, a whole lot of hallucinatory weirdness, and quite simply some of the best creature design I've ever seen thanks to Industrial Lights & Magic.
Am I overhyping this? Possibly! Wednesday night was my 2nd time watching it, and the experience really cemented it in my mind as an underrated horror classic (hence me writing this two days later). This time around I was struck by just how skillfully made the whole movie was. There's an uneasiness to even the most straightforward scenes, yet Neill's performance is often hilarious (after attacking an orderly at a mental hospital: "Sorry about the balls! It was a lucky shot!"), cutting the tension with clever little comedy bits and constantly keeping the audience on their toes. There's perhaps a slight over-reliance on "jump-scares," but in my humble opinion they feel earned within the film's atmosphere. In a lot of modern horror films I get the impression that jump-scares happen when the director doesn't have anything actually scary going on, but that is far from the case in this movie. The jump-scares simply serve to snap you to attention in anticipation of something even worse.
This film was released in 1994, riiiiiiiight on the cusp of the "John Carpenter makes good movies" dropoff. Seriously, don't bother with anything after this... Unless you are a Snake Plisskin fan, in which case Escape from L.A. is... tolerable. But this? I'm officially calling it my 3rd favorite John Carpenter movie. After They Live and The Thing, of course (but ever-so-slightly ahead of Big Trouble in Little China). OFFICIALLY.
So TAY, have you seen this? Do you like/hate John Carpenter? How about Sam Neill? Fun Fact: everyone's favorite Darth Vader, Hayden Christensen, was in this movie for a brief second! GAZE UNTO THE FACE OF EVIL.
In the Mouth of Madness is available for free on Amazon Prime.