“In the Mouth of Madness” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 13
“Never, never, never… throw chips at a driver.”
Oh, how fun this Lovercraft-ian monster movie is.
Sam Neil is always excellent, and he’s having a blast in this role. I always think of him first and foremost as Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park, but he’s fantastic in this silly movie, too. Strangely, he was in Jurassic Park two years earlier – in 1993 – while In the Mouth of Madness was released in 1995. It looks and feels much more like an 80s horror movie, despite coming out the same year as films like Se7en, Toy Story, and Braveheart.
I love the look of this film – the surrealism, the architecture, that wonderful 80s Kodak 5294/5295 film stock with just the right amount of grain and color saturation… It’s all so lovely.
The tone is nearly perfect – balancing fun, humor, horror, and all-around creepiness with precision. The score accentuates it with an obvious nod to Metallica-style metal bookending the film, and John Carpenter’s signature synths layered throughout.
I also particularly enjoy the meta storytelling that allows the characters to break the fourth wall without winking at the camera. It’s very clever, and makes for a satisfying resolution to a completely bonkers script.
This is apparently part of something that Carpenter has dubbed “The Apocalypse Trilogy”, which is The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and In the Mouth of Madness. I’m a huge fan of The Thing (currently my 6th favorite horror movie, and my #49 overall), so after seeing this I’m inclined to seek out and watch Prince of Darkness to see how well it holds up to the rest of the trilogy.
In the Mouth of Madness was at the time of this review at #801 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #1298 among the best movies of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
In the Mouth of Madness vs. Hard Candy
Ellen Page is a firecracker in Hard Candy, but it shows its budget on its sleeve, and the script isn’t airtight. Madness wins.
In the Mouth of Madness vs. Equilibrium
I totally get why Equilibrium bombed hard, but it’s still a lot of fun. That being said, Mouth of Madness is John Carpenter at his best.
In the Mouth of Madness vs. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Noomi Rapace > Rooney Mara. I adore the original Dragon Tattoo, so it’s tough to beat. It’ll win over Madness.
In the Mouth of Madness vs. Little Shop of Horrors
Horror musicals are few and far between. Great ones with Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, John Candy, and Bill Murray – even rarer. Madness can’t beat Little Shop.
In the Mouth of Madness vs. The Crow
A film that spoke very clearly to me as an angsty teenager (I was 15 at the time) with its mood, its antihero, and its action is going to beat In the Mouth of Madness.
In the Mouth of Madness vs. The Good, The Bad, The Weird
I’m giving it to Madness. While TGTBTW is a whole lot of fun, I’m even more impressed overall with what John Carpenter did with his film.
In the Mouth of Madness vs. Blade Runner
Sorry, John. You aren’t going to beat the seminal science fiction classic with your fun little horror picture.
In the Mouth of Madness vs. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
I can dig Disney’s animated Alice – certainly more than Tim Burton’s version – but I’m more inclined to side on Carpenter’s crazy tale.
In the Mouth of Madness vs. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
While Christmas Vacation is a comedy I sincerely enjoy, I’m elated over all the fun and cleverness in Madness, so it will win the matchup.
In the Mouth of Madness vs. Election
Yet another film that just had a killer script and cast firing on all cylinders. Still one of the best satires ever.
In the Mouth of Madness is now ranked #317 out of 1387 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
My next films are Owning Mahowny, and Dear Zachary,. In the meantime, check out the other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.