When it comes to American horror directors, no one has been as consistent – besides Wes Craven, in my opinion – as John Carpenter (I’d say Cronenberg, but he’s Canadian, and Argento and Fulci hail from the Boot.) While there are a few bombs in his catalog, and he’s always willing to explore the full spectrum of horror – from suspense, to sci-fi, to fantasy. In the Mouth of Madness is Lovecraftian in material, from the surreal plot to the New England location.
Sam Neill plays an investigator who’s hired to find a popular horror novelist, Sutter Cane, who just disappeared after his most recent book was released. After reading some of the author’s material, Neill starts to have weird dreams and visions that haunt him constantly, even while he’s awake. He soon discovers a hidden map, created when the covers of all the books are rearranged. He figures the map will lead him to Cane’s whereabouts, so he follows it to a bizarre, desolate town called Hobb’s End. Everything starts to fall apart after that, and in the end you’re never really sure what was reality and what was “madness”.
This one was super overlooked when it came out in 1995, but I loved it the first time I saw it. So much weird shit happens, so many creepy visuals.
Trivia: this is the final film in Carpenter’s ‘apocalypse trilogy’, following The Thing and Prince of Darkness.