Scream Factory Doesn’t Disappoint with John Carpenter’s Lovecraftian Masterpiece
There are two John Carpenter films being released on July 24th by Scream Factory, with more shortly to follow (Starman was just announced at Comic Con and Someone’s Watching Me! will be released on August 7th.) I am very happy to report that I wasn’t let down viewing either one, in fact one of them has become my favorite release from them so far this year. My opinion might change when Creepshow and Trick R’ Treat come out in October, but as of this writing I can’t think of any other Blu-ray release in 2018 that has thrilled me as much as the Collector’s Edition of In The Mouth Of Madness.
Before I get ahead of myself let me tell you about the other title being released that I hadn’t seen since it initially played theaters back in 1992. Memoirs Of An Invisible Man was a release I wasn’t too excited about, as it really didn’t do much for me at twelve years old and it never got much reappraisal in later years the way most of Carpenter’s work has. That being said, what I expected to be a complete chore to watch ended up being at times charming and even entertaining, it was certainly fascinating to see what Carpenter was trying to do with this movie and sometimes he succeeded when he wasn’t dealing with obvious studio interference. Initially written by William Goldman with rewrites by Dana Olsen (The ‘Burbs) as a vehicle for Ivan Reitman was clearly a rescue assignment for John Carpenter to come in and salvage after creative disputes with Reitman and star Chevy Chase lead to the original director walking away. Interestingly Sam Neill plays the antagonist in this movie and not only is he good, but if he didn’t have the chemistry with Carpenter on this movie that he did, then we wouldn’t have gotten the incredible collaboration between these two again two years later. This Sci Fi misfire loosely adapted from H.F. Saint’s 1987 novel actually has a lot of heart and though it still doesn’t completely work for me, I have a new found respect for it and think it deserves a better reputation than it has. I certainly would recommend this for John Carpenter fans to add to their collection and it’s certainly worth a viewing for the uninitiated.
That brings me to Michael de Luca’s (Freddy’s Dead) nourish love letter to the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter’s finale to his proclaimed “Apocalypse Trilogy”, I’m of course referring to In The Mouth Of Madness. From the opening to the insane asylum where insurance investigator John Trent is delivered to the pressing of Sutter Cane’s lavish novels flipping in rhythm to Carpenter and Jim Lane’s heavy metal influenced score I right away noticed that this release was something special. When compared to New Line cinema’s Blu-ray release in 2013 and the Warner Archive Collection DVD from two years ago this is night and day. Not only is cinematographer Gary Kibbe’s (Prince Of Darkness) cinematic canvas given more lushness and clarity but Greg Nicotero’s creature work can be seen for the astonishing delight it is. Yes the wall of monsters looks devilishly haunting and beautiful. It would have been interesting to see what Tony Randel (Hellbound: Hellraiser II) or Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary) would have done with de Luca’s script, but honestly I can’t picture anyone but Carpenter realizing the insanity and dreadfulness of Lovecraft on film. As many straight forward Lovecraft adaptations we’ve had, and many of them good, none of them really capture the actual essence and feel of Lovecraft’s work the way this movie does. It’s a true nightmare from beginning to end and at times it could have you questioning your own sanity. Scream Factory gives this release the proper red carpet treatment it deserves after all these years and everything from the transfer which is worth the price of admission alone, to the bonus features are all top notch and will no doubt please fans of this movie to no end. Definitely don’t sleep on these releases, especially this one.