In the Mouth of Madness Blu-ray
Director: John Carpenter
Screenwriter: Michael De Luca
Cast: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, Charlton Heston
Distributor: Scream Factory
Rated R | 95 Minutes
Release Date: June 24, 2018
“Do you read Sutter Cane?”
Influenced by the work of seminal horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, In the Mouth of Madness is the third installment in John Carpenter‘s Apocalypse Trilogy, preceded by The Thing and Prince of Darkness. The 1994 film’s title references Lovecraft’s 1936 novella, At the Mountains of Madness, and insanity plays a significant role in both the movie and the novella.
Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow of Das Boot, Dune) is a best-selling horror novelist whose latest novel is driving readers mad – literally. When he inexplicably vanishes, his publisher (Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes) sends Cane’s editor (Julie Carmen, Fright Night Part 2) and special investigator John Trent (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park) to find him. Drawn to a town that exists only in Cane’s books, Trent crosses the barrier between fact and fiction and enters a terrifying world from which there is no escape.
The ’90s are looked back upon as a dead zone — pardon the pun — for the horror genre. An influx of low-budget, direct-to-video titles and extraneous, trope-ridden sequels to established horror franchises almost killed off the genre altogether. In 1996, Scream revitalized the moribund genre and gave it new life, but it wouldn’t be the only great horror flick of the ’90s. Before it gave birth to the new millennium, the decade had its fair share of films now considered classics, including Misery, Candyman, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and In the Mouth of Madness.
When talking about John Carpenter, a master filmmaker whose credits include Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing, and They Live, a movie like In the Mouth of Madness might be considered a lesser work. Looking back on the film 24 years later, it is a revelation; as expertly crafted and magnificently macabre as the horror auteur’s more acclaimed hits.
With a solid script by Michael De Luca (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), some grotesque, otherworldly special makeup effects by Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger, and an exceptional lead performance by Neill, In the Mouth of Madness is without question one of the best horror movies of the ’90s. Like Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and From Beyond, it is a spirited slice of Lovecraftian horror, lovingly rendered in horrific detail.
As for the disc, this Scream Factory Collector’s Edition Blu-ray offers a 1080p high-definition transfer (2.35:1 aspect ratio) with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. The new 4K scan of the original film elements is impressive, with solid grain levels, fine textures, and rich colors. There are also several new special features, including a new audio commentary with director John Carpenter and producer Sandy King Carpenter, discussing the 1995 film.
In addition to a vintage featurette, theatrical trailer, and TV spots, there are two effects-focused featurettes: “Greg Nicotero’s Things in the Basement,” a new interview with the special effects artist, and “Home Movies from Hobb’s End,” a collection of behind-the-scenes footage shot by Nicotero on set. There’s also an episode of “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” that takes a look at the film’s locations today, and “The Whisperer of the Dark” – an interview with Julie Carman.
Overall, Scream Factory’s In the Mouth of Madness Collector’s Edition is another definitive release, but I’m slightly underwhelmed by the lack of new, in-depth bonus features. Don’t get me wrong, a new Carpenter audio commentary is nothing to sneeze at, but what I look forward to most with these Criterion-level releases are exhaustive making-of documentaries that reunite the cast and crew and shed new light on beloved cult classics. The lack of new video interviews with Carpenter and Neill on this new disc make the other bonus features novelties more than anything else.
Scream Factory is committed to digitally restoring the entire Carpenter catalog in high-definition, with Memoirs of an Invisible Man and the TV movie Somebody’s Watching Me also available as new releases. While it’s a little light on the special features, In the Mouth of Madness has never looked or sounded better, and this Collector’s Edition release is well worth double-dipping for if you’re a hardcore fan who picked up the previous, inferior release.