Sunday, July 10, 2011

IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS: Best Horror Movie Ending Ever!?!

When is a movie not really a movie?  When its called JOHN CARPENTER'S IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS.  This is one of his greatest films.  As usual it is overlooked by many in the horror community even by Carpenter's own fans.  I admit it.  I only wanted to see this film because he directed it.  But honestly I didn't think the movie was going to be special.  I was wrong.  I am pretty much just going to talk about the ending so if you haven't seen this movie PLEASE STOP READING NOW!  Trust me.  This is a film you want to watch in complete ignorance.  Watch the movie.  Contemplate everything you just watched.  When it sinks in as to what you just watched it will blow your mind.  Wait maybe you shouldn't.  The whole point to IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS is to not watch IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS. 

So yeah,  IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS starts off just like any normal movie.  You have opening credits set to awesome rock music.  We are introduced to characters and a story develops.  Nothing strange about that, right?  Sam Neil plays John Trent.  He is a freelance insurance investigator.  No one holds his leash.  He is his own Han Solo.  A publishing company hires him to find Sutter Cane their most prized author.  Sutter Cane writes extremely popular horror novels that sell out all over the world and have caused people to go crazy.  He has gone missing while writing his latest book IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS.  Trent figures out that Sutter Cane is hiding in a town not on the map called Hobbs End.  Along with the book publisher's editor Linda Styles played by Julie Carmen the two set off on a road trip to find him.  Just like most movies there is a little tiny bit of a spark between the two.  At least Trent thinks so.  Every movie has to have a love interest, right?

After a couple of strange occurrences the two magically find Hobbs End.  There they discover that the Sutter Cane's stories are coming to life.  The two witness events from his books take place right before their eyes.  Trent can't accept what he is seeing as real because monsters and crazy stuff doesn't happen in reality.  True that, but he isn't living in reality.  Its at this point where IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS stops being a real movie.  Something else is happening.  A great revelation is occuring and Trent can't see it.  After finding Sutter Cane and understanding that his new book will turn everyone who reads it into monsters, Trent spends whats left of the movie trying to stop the book from being published.  He doesn't understand what is going on.  He burns the book and goes back to the publisher only to discover that he has already been there months before and hand delivered the book which has just been published.  Unable to stop the madness from spreading because Sutter Cane has become some kind of god Trent goes out and axes some guy who just bought the book.  Trent ends up in an asylum.

So the world goes to hell and the dark forces release Trent from the asylum.  With nothing better to do he goes to a still functioning movie theater that is playing the movie version of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS.  This is the best part.  He sees himself on the big screen and everything he has just been through from the very start of the credits.  That means the story that turns people into monsters is the very same story that we the audience have been watching this whole time.  Anyone who watches this movie will turn into monsters.  Well maybe not really but it is kind of cool how fiction almost seems to become reality.  Trent realizes that he is not a person but a character in a story.  He doesn't live in reality so monsters and crazy crap can happen.  This isn't a real movie but merely a device to change the world into monsters.

This is a great creature feature.  This isn't a movie you have seen before.  There are quite a few monsters in this movie even though they are rarely glimpsed.  Obviously H.P. Lovecraft was a heavy inspiration on their design.  They look real.  Even the story and buildings of Hobbs End could have come from the imagination of Lovecraft.  Could you imagine this movie being made today.  You would probably have a bunch of cartoons jumping around rooftop to rooftop not being very realistic or scary.  All the suspense would be lost.  The first time I saw IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS I was a little bored with it.  It was a little too weird for me and I was about to throw it into the NAKED LUNCH nonsense category of horror.  There is a lot of weird crap in this movie.  But after seeing the ending I was shocked at how cool and original this movie was.  Despite how weird the movie is it does make sense.  You probably will never see another movie like this again.  But that is just because you turned into a squid-faced monster and ate the neighbor's cat, ya freak.



  1. Thanks for the good article and insight Jason. This is an underrated horror film and one of my favorites in the genre.

  2. Thanks. I appreciate the comment.

  3. This has always been my favorite John Carpenter film. It goes way back with me when mom & pop video stores were still around in small towns. In fact, when I was returning it (rewinded and all) I passed a boy on a bicycle in pitch black darkness by a corn field. Frickin nuts! I've told that story to anyone and everyone who I knew saw the movie. John carpenter is the ultimate end of the world writer.

  4. I agree and that is a great little story. Thanks for the comment.

    1. My fav of carpenters films. Great soundtrack as well. You're right the ending is fantastic especially the footage of trent on the bus. That always makes me giggle everytime I watch it. Sam Niel is perfect as trent. Did you know madness is one of carpenters favs as well.

    2. I did not know that. He is a very smart man.

  5. Just finished it for the first time and I absolutely love it, it's definitely Carpenters best work along with The Thing, Prince of Darkness, Assault on Precinct 13 and Starman