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 <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
In the film, the works of Sutter Cane are occasionally quoted. Most if not all of these quotes are actually taken directly from several H.P. Lovecraft short stories with some adaptations to fit them into the film story. Most notably, in the scene where Styles reads to Trent as he gazes into the abyss--her speech lifts much of its description, including such elements as "the illimitable gulf of the unknown" from the last few paragraphs of Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls." In an earlier scene as well, Trent reads a line verbatim from Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark," in reference to the black church being "the seat of an evil older than mankind and wider than the known universe." See more »
(at around 14 mins) When the axe-wielding madman is shot several times by police men, no visible bullet marks are made by the gunfire. See more »
You're waiting to hear about my 'them', aren't you?
My 'them'. Every paranoid schizophrenic has one; a 'them', a 'they', an 'it'. And you want to hear about my 'them', don't you?
I want to know how you got here.
Things are turning to shit out there, aren't they?
See more »
Animal action 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 »
The original theatrical release had the 1987-1994 New Line Cinema logo at the opening. The 2013 Blu-ray from Warner Bros. plasters it with the modern New Line logo. But the 2018 Blu-ray release from Shout! Factory restores the original logo. See more »
Veteran filmmaker John Carpenter gets a lot of flak for the admittedly spotty latter half of his career, but can still take pride in this stylish bit of mind-bending, nightmarish insanity. It does lose a little something once the mystery elements are de-emphasized and the lunatic imagery takes over, but there is something here for a variety of horror fans, those who crave imaginative effects work and those who simply enjoy the idea of imagination run amok, as characters end up in a place where fantasy and reality are no longer distinguishable from each other. It also utilizes a doomsday theme, and is the final film in what the director calls his "Apocalypse Trilogy" (after "The Thing" and "Prince of Darkness"). The visual effects are simply spectacular, with the renowned KNB group obviously having a ball coming up with assorted gore and creature gags.
Sam Neill, who'd previously played the villain in Carpenters' "Memoirs of an Invisible Man", stars here as John Trent, a cynical freelance insurance investigator who is good at what he does, and also *enjoys* what he does. He's hired by a publishing magnate, Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston), to look into the disappearance of a phenomenally successful horror author Sutter Cane (an obvious nod to a certain other famous horror writer). When he and his travelling companion, Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), arrive in the small town of Hobbs End - a place that supposedly *only* exists in Canes' mind - things take an extremely bizarre turn, and poor Trent, one of those hardcore rational types who is sure there must be some logic to all of this, is taken for a dark and interesting ride.
This had been written a few years previous by future big time Hollywood executive Michael De Luca, and was intended to be a derivation of concepts created by the legendary H.P. Lovecraft. Carpenter clearly saw the potential for some true horror in this script, and does a bang-up job in crafting a continuously ominous mood and plenty of weird atmosphere. As usual, his score (composed in collaboration with Jim Lang) is excellent. The ending is downright brilliant (at least, in this viewers' opinion), and getting there is just as much fun. Neill is superb in the lead; this is almost entirely his show, although the great German actor Jurgen Prochnow makes the most of his limited screen time as Cane. Some of the supporting actors - David Warner, John Glover, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, Frances Bay - aren't seen all that much, but it's still nice to see them here.
Like a lot of Carpenters' work, it just wasn't appreciated that much in its time (20 years ago now), but it's gained a fair amount of respect in the years since among horror fans.
Eight out of 10.
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