In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

In the Mouth of MadnessJohn Trent used to be a freelance insurance investigator, who is now a patient in a psychiatric hospital. One day, Dr. Wrenn visits him, where Trent recounts his story: after the disappearance of the popular horror novelist Sutter Cane, Trent is having lunch with a colleague. Suddenly, Trent is attacked by an axe-wielding man who is shot dead by the police, and is later revealed to be Cane’s agent. This man went insane after reading one of Cane’s books, and killed his family as a result. And he is not the only one…apparently, some people seem to go crazy after reading Cane’s novels. Shortly afterwards, Trent is hired by the director of Arcane Publishing who wants him to investigate Cane’s disappearance, and also to recover the manuscript for his final novel. Linda Styles, who is Cane’s editor, is assigned to accompany him. While she explains to Trent that Cane’s novels are known to cause paranoia, disorientation and memory loss in some readers, Trent believes it’s all hogwash and considers his disappearance to be a bluff, something done entirely as a publicity stunt. But bizarre phenomena starts happening, and during their investigation, Trent and Linda enters a small town which looks like and includes people that are exactly as described in one of Cane’s fictional novels. Is it all staged, or is something else at play?

 

In the Mouth of Madness is the third film in John Carpenter’s (unofficial) Apocalypse Trilogy, with the first being The Thing (1982) and the second being The Prince of Darkness (1987). The movie is focusing majorly on atmospheric and creepy imagery, and John Carpenter really is good at creating an amazing atmosphere in many of his films. This one comes off as a surreal and bizarre detective story, with some interesting visual effects. Sam Neill does a convincing portrayal of the detective who is gradually falling into the abyss of pure madness as he’s investigating the alleged disappearance of the famous writer.

 

In the Mouth of Madness is a ride that takes you through a bizarre world of madness, although it might appear a little disorientating at times and there’s not offered too many explanations when wrapping things up. Regarding the movie’s concluding and final act…there are some parts that doesn’t make all that much sense. There are also some bits during the movie that appears to be a little involuntarily funny at times, but nothing too distracting. It’s still an interesting and enjoyable experience if you don’t take it all to seriously, where there’s a mix of elements from H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King (whom Carpenter based the Sutter Cane character on). While there’s a lot of Lovecraftian stuff all over the place, the Stephen King vibe cannot be missed.

 

So, overall, it’s well worth a watch if you want something strange with a little bit of Lovecraft mixed with a Stephen King flavour and maybe a little pinch of Twilight Zone.

 

Fun fact: the film that Trent is watching at the end of the movie is called Robot Monster, which Carpenter has stated was his favorite monster movie when he was a kid.

 

In the Mouth of Madness In the Mouth of Madness In the Mouth of Madness

 

Director: John Carpenter
Country & year: USA, 1995
Actors: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, David Warner, John Glover, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, Charlton Heston, Frances Bay, Wilhelm von Homburg, Kevin Rushton, Gene Mack, Conrad Bergschneider
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0113409/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Color Out of Space (2019)

Color Out of SpaceNathan Gardener and his family moves to his late father’s farm somewhere in rural New England, in the hopes of living a quiet life and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Just when they start to settle in, a meteorite crashes into their yard which emits an otherworldly color (a color out of space). One of the children (Jack) is traumatized by the event, and seems to be affected in strange ways. He becomes obsessed with the well in the garden and claims he’s got a “friend” there. Strange flowers and plants starts growing, animals suffer grotesque mutations, and the Gardener family’s life transforms into a colorful nightmare.

 

Color Out of Space is based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. The director, Richard Stanley, last directed a film way back in 1992 (Dust Devil), so there was a 27 year pause until his comeback. Things didn’t start out all that trouble-free, however, as the movie lacked funding when Stanley revealed the project in 2013. In 2015 it was announced that the production company SpectreVision would produce the film…but it was still delayed until 2018, around the time when Nicholas Cage was confirmed to play the leading role, and then the filming started in Portugal in 2019. Sometimes, things simply just take time. Stanley first stated that this is the first movie in a planned trilogy of Lovecraft adaptions (the next one supposed to be based on The Dunwich Horror). However, in March 2021 the trilogy was canceled after Stanley was accused of domestic abuse by his former partner Scarlett Amaris, and SpectreVision cut all relation with him.

 

Many of Lovecraft’s stories have been made into film adaptions, some more successfully than others. And most of them have a varied love/hate reception…and this movie is no exception to that rule. And it isn’t even the first time Color Out Of Space was adapted to the screen…there are actually as much as four earlier adaptions, including a 2010 German black & white adaption that’s called Die Farbe aka Color Out of Space.

 

As this story was originally published in September 1927, and Stanley’s movie adaption goes for a more modern take on things, there are some changes here and there. For those that have read the original Lovecraft story, you’ll know that the color is described as one that humanity has never actually seen…but that is, of course, not really possible to portray in a movie unless it was made in black and white (like the German 2010 adaption). However, the purple-pink-ish color used here actually looks pretty good and makes for a highly visual and mesmerizing treat. It’s a Lovecraftian snack-bag filled with goodies that can be enjoyed by many: visually wonderful, a dosage of some pretty good body horror moments, all mixed in with the classic cosmic terror and the fear of the unknown. That being said, I can understand why it’s not tickling everyone’s pickle as some people might be put off due to the changes, and others might find the humor in it a bit weird. Like with nearly every Lovecraft story that’s been adapted to the screen, there’s both love and hate for it.

 

Overall, I think Color out of Space is an entrancing surreal cosmic horror movie. Stanley is also a Lovecraft fan, so the film is filled with a nice handful of easter eggs that people who have read Lovecraft’s other stories will recognize (like the daughter, whose name is Lavinia). And of course, it’s always a pleasure to watch Nicholas Cage go bonkers in a horror movie.

 

Color Out of Space

 

Director: Richard Stanley
Country & year: USA, Malaysia, Postugal, 2019
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Elliot Knight, Tommy Chong, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard, Josh C. Waller, Q’orianka Kilcher, Melissa Nearman, Amanda Booth, Keith Harle
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt5073642/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call Girl of Cthulhu (2014)

Call Girl of Cthulhu

We meet the young, starving artist Carter who lives in a cramped apartment complex, where he spends most of his time in his room, jerking off to a blonde cam girl. He immediately catches sight of the escort Riley, whom he falls in love with at first glance and starts dating. At the same time, Sebastian is in town, looking for prostitutes who should have the mark of a baby Cthulhu on one of their butt cheeks. And he always goes straight to the point by asking, with his Oscar-worthy line: “Ladies, would you mind taking off your skirts? I would like to look at your … asses”. By the way, he is a sleazy cult leader who is looking for the chosen woman to give birth to the child of the alien / God Cthulhu, and then destroy humanity. Riley eventually pops up on his radar after he sees a nude portrait of her, which has been drawn by Carter, with that specific Cthulhu mark – something Riley only thinks is a birthmark. It is not long before Carter has to team up with a group of Monster Hunters to save his damsel and the world from its doom. And by the way, yes, the jealous and mildly insane roommate Erica is secretly in love with Carter who opens up for a bit of a silly triangle drama, or something like that.

 

At first glance, Call Girl of Cthulhu could easily sound like a porn spoof with a crazy premise that belongs in the 1980s in a corner somewhere in Tromaville. A dizzy ride with a lot of good cartoonish humor, energy and self-awareness that makes a lot itself with a small budget and limited resources. While some of the old-school effects are quite impressive and inventive, others looks like something one could see in an elementary school play. And what’s the deal with Sebastian’s henchmen with the pacifiers in their mouth? Talk about some edge-lords, I guess. Mr. Lovecraft did encourage others to borrow ideas from his stories, but maybe he would have rolled in his grave to this insanity, where we are entertained with monster dicks, monster tits, zombies, sleazy nudity and an unique insight into an escort’s lugubrious everyday life. Or he might have loved it, who knows. Regardless, there is a lot of enthusiasm and love for Lovecraft’s imagination that balances and walks the line perfectly on spoofing and praising him with dedicated amateur actors who seem to have a lot of fun.

 

Call Girl of Cthulhu

 

Director: Chris LaMartina
Country & year: USA, 2014
Actors: David Phillip Carollo, Melissa LaMartina, Nicolette le Faye, Dave Gamble, Helenmary Ball, Sabrina Taylor-Smith, Alex Mendez, Craig Peter Coletta, Elena Rose,  George Stover, Leanna Chamish, Troy Jennings, Stephanie Anders, Ruby Larocca
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2689354/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

The Call of CthulhuA man is organizing the affairs of his recently deceased uncle, and accidentally comes across a series of notes and paper clippings which tells about the Cthulhu Cult and an ancient horror lurking beneath the sea. Intrigued by all of this, he continues to investigate, getting more and more drawn into the mystery of this cult and the creature Cthulhu, which is a gigantic entity worshipped by the cultists: a creature in the shape of an octopus, a dragon, and a caricature of the human form. There is an occult phrase that, when translated, says “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming“, meaning that the cultists await its return. As he learns more and more about this cult and the cosmic entity they worship, he gets closer to losing his sanity completely.

 

H.P. Lovecraft is one of the most influential horror writers of all time, especially his Cthulhu mythos. His works have even created a sub-genre within horror that’s called “Lovecraftian horror“. While there aren’t actually that many movies that are fully based on his stories, there are a lot of them who are heavily inspired by his tales of cosmic horror.

 

The Call of Cthulhu is both a faithful rendition of H.P Lovecraft’s short story by the same name, as well as a homage to the black and white silent movie era. This, of course, means you get lots of gesticulation from the actors since the dialogue is shown only with intertitles, aka title cards, causing body language and facial expressions to have a much bigger significance in order to portray the character’s feelings and emotions.

 

The film’s highlights are, of course, the creative visuals. The soundtrack is also top-notch, fitting every scene perfectly and fulfilling the film like hand in glove. In such a nightmarish tale of cultists and ancient horrors, I think it hits the nail on the head with portraying the intended feeling of impending doom, where the protagonist’s investigations slowly reveals upon him just how insignificant humankind really is.

 

I dare say that you do not need to be a Lovecraft enthusiast in order to appreciate this movie. There’s a lot of mood and atmosphere to admire here, especially if you can value the 1920’s style.

 

The Call of Cthulhu

 

Director: Andrew Leman
Country & year: USA, 2005
Actors: Matt Foyer, John Bolen, Ralph Lucas, Chad Fifer, Susan Zucker, Kalafatic Poole, John Klemantaski, Jason Owens, D. Grigsby Poland, David Mersault, Barry Lynch, Dan Novy, Daryl Ball, John Joly, Jason Peterson
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0478988/

 

Vanja Ghoul