"Every species can smell its own extinction. The last ones left won't have a pretty time with it. In ten years, maybe less, the human race will just be a bedtime story for their children. A myth, nothing more."
- John Trent (Sam Neill)
Rolling Stone - 03/09/1995
"...[Carpenter] has a ball mixing fun and fright..."
Entertainment Weekly - 07/21/1995
"...Nightmarish....Carpenter's best movie in years." -- Rating: B+
Variety - 02/06/1995
"...It's a nifty idea, and director John Carpenter keeps the story moving....The film has a nice balance of popular and cult appeal..."
New York Times - 02/03/1995
"...[A] sardonic, increasingly wild-eyed nightmare....Mr. Carpenter has devised himself a cinematic hall of mirrors..."
Los Angeles Times - 02/03/1995
"...Carpenter begins in a low key, building tension slowly but steadily, in a first-rate display of style and craftsmanship..."
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS is John Carpenter's foray into the world of H.P. Lovecraft and surreal horror. An insurance investigator (Sam Neill) is sent to find a missing author, Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow). As he comes closer to finding the author, things start to change around him, and soon nothing is what it seems. Madness seems to be the normal state of things, while reason and sanity have no place in this new world created by the mind of Sutter Cane. Carpenter plays with changing perspective, making the audience aware thay they too are part of the story, and maybe, just maybe, this is not just make believe. The story is very ambitious in its attempt to put a whammy on the viewer's imagination, but the direction is steady and thoughtful enough to pull it off. Sam Neill is superb in the lead role of the only sane man left on Earth, incredulous to the destruction of reality as he knows it. It is his controlled performance that makes the bizarre events in the film threatening and scary. Jurgen Prochnow is deeply creepy as author and madman Sutter Cane, who's imagination is so vivid it is spilling out of his head into the real world. John Carpenter is known for his scary movies, and he does not fail to deliver with IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS.
When bestselling author Sutter Cane vanishes just before the revisions of his new book are due, John Trent is hired to find him. Taking his cue from Cane's unpublished text, Trent begins his search in Hobb's End--the setting of the gory story. However, Trent soon realizes that the seemingly peaceful New England town is undergoing a frightening transformation--and that Cane's fictional events are rapidly becoming real, in this surreal slice of horror by director John Carpenter.
Some of John Carpenter's favorite films are the Quatermass pictures made by Hammer Studios in the 1960s. As homage to the films, Carpenter named the town Hobb's End in IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS after a town in QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967).
The screenplay for IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS was so heavily influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft that the producers gave him a screen credit, even though there is no direct adaptation of any of his works in the film.