RogerBW's Blog

In the Mouth of Madness (1994) 24 April 2022

1994 horror, dir. John Carpenter, Sam Neill, Julie Carmen: IMDb / allmovie. The insurance investigator is sent to find the wildly popular horror author, who's vanished with the overdue manuscript of his latest book…

I couldn't work out, on watching this, whether it was a bad good film, achieving much less than it should have, or a good bad film, achieving much more that expected from a low-quality foundation. There are some beautiful ideas here, most obviously in the malleability of the boundaries between reality and fiction; but rather than go beyond the basics, of saying "look, here's this neat idea, whoa man that's heavy", the film just moves on to the next practical effect. When someone discovers he's a fictional character after all, there's none of the soul-searching of Last Action Hero; there's just laughing insanity.

I'm starting to like Carpenter despite his special effects, I think; in The Thing they certainly add to the story, but here I find they distract from the huge issue of the breakdown of reality and bring the narrative down into the tawdry personal arena of something horrible wanting to kill you. There are lots of films about that already, even in 1994.

And then we get Jürgen Prochnow being splendidly messianic, not to mention coming to terms himself with the idea that what he thought was his own writing inspiration was always being given to him by Them. He's great, and he's set against the splendidly looming Cathedral of the Transfiguration (Markham, Ontario). More!

But no, bad viewer no biscuit, Sam's on the run, and as he tries to drive away he keeps finding himself back in the same place, and yes John we get it, you don't have to keep hammering on this same point…

Perhaps the problem is that I'm much more an SF fan than a horror fan: I treat the breakdown of reality as a problem to be understood and perhaps solved, not as a frightening idea to give me a frisson of horror.

It probably doesn't help that I don't think calling your characters things like "Gilman" makes this a Lovecraftian story; these outsiders rely on humans to open the way into the world for them, and no true Outer God would so demean itself.

As usual if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1