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In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

R  |   |  Horror  |  3 February 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 39,996 users  
Reviews: 219 user | 114 critic

An insurance investigator begins discovering that the impact a horror writer's books have on his fans is more than inspirational.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sutter Cane (as Jurgen Prochnow)
Guard #1
Gene Mack ...
Guard #2
Conrad Bergschneider ...
Marvin Scott ...
Katherine Ashby ...


With the disappearance of hack horror writer Sutter Cane, all Hell is breaking loose...literally! Author Cane, it seems, has a knack for description that really brings his evil creepy-crawlies to life. Insurance investigator John Trent is sent to investigate Cane's mysterious vanishing act and ends up in the sleepy little East Coast town of Hobb's End. The fact that this town exists as a figment of Cane's twisted imagination is only the beginning of Trent's problems.... Written by Tad Dibbern <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Lived Any Good Books Lately? See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for images of horror, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

3 February 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness  »

Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)


$8,946,600 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Sam Neill, who was originally a director himself, suggested to director John Carpenter that he shoot some of the scenes in the hotel from above. See more »


(at around 1h 11 mins) When Sutter Cane peels himself away to reveal the abyss, although most of his upper half is no longer "in reality" his shadow on the wall behind him remains perfectly intact. See more »


Simon: Reality is not what it used to be!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Animal interaction was monitored by the American Humane Association with on set supervision by the Toronto Humane Society. No animal was harmed in the making of this film. Human interaction was monitored by the Inter Planetary Psychiatric Association. The body count was high, the casualties are heavy. See more »


Referenced in Kammaren (2007) See more »


Written by Roger Nichols and Paul Williams
Performed by The Carpenters
Published by Irving Music, Inc. (BMI)
See more »

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User Reviews

An underrated jewel
3 November 2006 | by (Mexico) – See all my reviews

After the box-office failure of "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" in 1992 forced him to work in TV (with the movie "Body Bags"), director John Carpenter returned to his roots in the horror genre and began working in what would be his return to the big screen with the 1995 horror film, "In the Mouth of Madness", a movie that would become the third and final part of his Apocalypse Trilogy (an unrelated series of horror films started with "The Thing" and followed by "Prince of Darkness"). Together with writer Michael De Luca, Carpenter crafted a film that pays honest tribute to the genre's original root: the written word.

In the film, Sam Neill plays John Trent, a freelance insurance investigator hired to find out if the disappearance of horror writer Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow) is part of a complicated marketing plan, as he is the most popular writer at the moment. However, it seems that Cane has really disappeared, as not even his publishers know where he is. Together with Cane's editor, Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), Trent will attempt to find out where Cane is, but will discover that the famed horror writer has a deep dark secret hidden in the apparently not so fictional town of "Hobb's End".

Inspired by legendary horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, De Luca's story is a powerful ride to the dark side where the line of fiction and reality disappear. Themes such as the duality of reality and fantasy and the concepts of God and free will are carried through the film's remarkably well-done script, becoming one of the most interesting, intelligent and insightful horror stories ever put on film. As a tribute to Lovecraft, De Luca captures that atmosphere of dread and madness that was so characteristic of Lovecraft's works and that no film adaptation of his works has managed to capture.

A fitting return to form, "In the Mouth of Madness" is again John Carpenter at his best, giving form to De Luca's imaginative script with amazing talent and an effective care for the story not seen since "The Thing". While the plot is clearly inspired on the work of H.P. Lovecraft, Carpenter completed the "tribute" by adding countless of references to Stephen King and Nigel Kneale (his own favorite writer), making "In the Mouth of Madness" a homage to writers of horror fiction. With great skill, Carpenter crafts a film that is never boring nor tiresome, and that even manages to transmit the feeling one would get by reading a book.

Sam Neill delivers an excellent performance as John Trent, who incredulous of Cane's talent, enters the unknown and discovers the source of Cane's popularity. It is a very natural and believable performance that can give the chills as Neill makes his character to be so easy to be identified with. Jürgen Prochnow and Julie Carmen deliver both excellent performances too, although their characters receive few screen time (even for important supporting roles) as it is truly Neill who carries the film becoming the focus of the story.

"In the Mouth of Madness" is a haunting horror film that is both intelligent and effective thanks to Carpenter's expertise as director, and more than 10 years after is release it's hard to see why it failed at the box-office. While it's not a perfect film, it's a lot better than the average, and while it's true that it seems to lose some steam in the last third, the ending is really one of the best in horror history. Despite some quibbles with the special effects (as I think that Carpenter shows a lot more than what was needed), the film is overall a very well-done film that deserved a better reception in its day.

With an excellent cast and a superb story, "In the Mouth of Madness" ends up as a really inventive story that proves that horror in film can deliver the same creative as it has in literature. An intelligent and twisted tale of horror, this homage to horror fiction makes a really great film. To most people, the name John Carpenter is (and will always be) related to the "Halloween" franchise, but personally, I find "The Thing" and this film as the best works of his career. 9/10

112 of 135 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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My take on why some fans seem to be disappointed with his films-- jswindter01
Blu-ray... lonenut2000
In the Mouth of Madness....with John Trent? Brenapp
Another Carpenter's Mess dude_everhard
Trent delivered the book to the publishers months ago??? Brenapp
H.P. Lovecraft temple_wes
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