In the Mouth of Madness (1995)


I Think, Therefore You Are.

In the Mouth of Madness (1995)Remember my October Horrorthons?  Of course you don’t!  Why would you?  I apparently don’t.  Around the time I was reviewing horror movies for this Horrorthon, a movie review was requested of me by friend of the reviews Kendra that I never got around to.  And then it never really felt like a good time to review a horror movie because it was no longer October.  She probably forgot that she requested it.  I know that I forgot about it for a while.  But then it popped back into my head and I realized that I should not try to wait until October to knock this one out.  Let’s do this!  The movie is In the Mouth of Madness, written by Michael De Luca, directed by John Carpenter, and starring Sam Neill, Jürgen Prochnow, Julie Carmen, David Warner, Charlton Heston, John Glover, Frances Bay, Wilhelm von Homburg, and Bernie Casey.

John Trent (Sam Neill) is a patient in a Looney bin that recounts his story to Dr. Wrenn (David Warner).  Trent worked as an insurance investigator who is hired by the director of Arcane Publishing, Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston), to locate popular horror novelist Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow).  At first, Trent is not interested.  But he then inexplicably decides to buy all of his books and read them, giving himself nightmares.  And that is exactly the reason that any rational person would take up the case!  Also, he cut up the covers of the books and found a map that only people in this movie can read because it just looked like a collection of various book covers to me.  Anyway, it leads Trent and Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), editor of Cane’s books, to a town that doesn’t exist called Hobb’s End – the place where Calvin’s tiger died – where they find that Cane’s books are coming to life.

Uh … why did I watch this?  I don’t say that because this movie was “bad” per se, but I don’t really understand how this movie became requested.  The movie feels like it intends to be deep and psychologically scary, but was really only a slight step up from a regular “gore and makeup” horror movie.  I started thinking negatively of this movie right in the beginning as the movie opens with the most 80’s, Karate Kid-style rock music.  What have I gotten myself into?  And then it got into a lot of its nonsense.  Like the whole situation with the agent trying to kill Trent with an axe and Trent talking to Harglow and Styles about how he thought it was a publicity stunt.  A publicity stunt?  That guy is dead now!  How much did he believe in Cane’s new book that he’d take part in a publicity stunt that ended with him being dead?  Trent says a lot of stupid things in this movie though.  Near the end, he makes the claim that “every species can smell its own extinction.”  What are you basing that on?  How many now extinct animals have we interviewed about what they can smell?  And what does extinction smell like?  I like to think it smells like White Diamonds.  And then it gets into the story, which isn’t that interesting but felt like it really wanted to be.  Is the book causing all of this?  (Probably)  Does Cane have super powers?  (Sure)  Is Trent crazy?  (Seems to be)  Do I care?  (No, not really)  And then the movie ends with Trent in a movie theater, watching the movie we just watched like the horror movie version of Blazing Saddles.

I wasn’t really impressed with the performances in this movie either.  Sam Neill gave a good enough performance, but it felt like he was not good enough at hiding his accent yet.  He has one on the realsies, right?  Well, if not, he talks weird.  Also weird: his character keeps a squeaky horn in his glove compartment, specifically to wake up passengers that fall asleep while he’s driving?  That’s odd.  Especially since these vehicles actually have built-in squeaky horns of their own.  I spent the greater majority of the movie trying to decide if I wanted to bang Julie Carmen.  By the end of the movie, I decided that I wouldn’t kick her out of bed, but I also wouldn’t actively pursue it.  The only thing I really thought about her character was that she must’ve been SUPER dedicated to her job.  I know she’s Cane’s editor, but does that necessarily entail that she memorize every detail of his books?  She knows which direction the church is from the hotel in a made up novel.  Unless there’s a map or he just spends a lot of time describing the layout of the towns in his books, there’s really no reason to do that.  When I saw Frances Bay in the movie, I recognized her but didn’t know from where.  I thought she was the rapping grandma at first, but then I realized she was a grandma, but a grandma for Happy Gilmore.  That made me so happy.  She’s good too.  In Happy Gilmore, she was a sweet old lady that you wish was your grandma, and she starts out that way here, but shows some range too.

Because of my lack of expectations, In the Mouth of Madness was unable to disappoint me.  But I didn’t like it.  It’s not bad; it’s just average and insignificant.  The story wants to be special and deep but isn’t, and then it’s left to stand on its aging visuals.  The performances didn’t do anything for me, but the Grandma from Happy Gilmore is in it.  Besides her, I can’t think of any reason to recommend this movie to you.  Go ahead and skip it.  In the Mouth of Madness gets “Reality is not what it used to be!” out of “I’m sorry about the balls!  It was a lucky shot, that’s all!”

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Ghostbusters II (1989)


Death is But a Door.  Time is But a Window.  I’ll Be Back.

Because I cannot watch Ghostbusters without finishing the series, I watched Ghostbusters II today.  This is a movie that has taken a bit of a beating, which is even more noticeable as it follows it’s amazing predecessor.  But was this a bad movie, or just a movie that suffers from being in the shadow of Ghostbusters?  Let’s find out!  Ghostbusters II was again written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, again directed by Ivan Reitman, and mostly again starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Henry and William Deutschendorf, Wilhelm von Homburg, Peter MacNicol, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Harris Yulin, Kurt Fuller, David Margulies, Cheech Marin, Walter Flanagan, Ben Stein, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Bobby Brown.

The Ghostbusters are back, and better than ever!  Oh wait, no they’re not.  They’ve actually fallen on hard times in the 5 years since the first movie.  Turns out, the mayor (David Margulies) stiffed them on that little job that saved the city/world in the first movie and they’ve mostly lost the respect of the people of New York, all of whom seem to have forgotten how they’re alive because of the Ghostbusters.  Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) make ends meet by performing at kid’s birthday parties, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) hosts a TV show about the paranormal, and Egon Spengler does tests involving making kids sad.  One day, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) stops by to visit Egon because the stroller of her baby, Oscar (Henry and William Deutschendorf), went crazy, weaved through traffic, and stopped abruptly in front of the museum she works at.  She asks Ray and Egon to investigate, but asks that they not tell Venkman because they had broken up after the first movie, leading her temporarily into the arms of Oscar’s father.  Venkman tortures Ray into spilling the beans, and three of the Ghostbusters are reunited.  Their investigation leads them to dig a hole into the middle of a busy street, where they find a strange pink ooze.  Then they get arrested.  This ooze, and a certain painting of interest, lead the Ghostbusters to have to save the world yet again.

I will flat out defend this movie as still being a great comedy.  I think what hurts this movie is that it will forever be in the shadow of a far superior movie.  Ghostbusters was so gundamned good that it would inevitably lead someone to go into this movie with high expectations that it couldn’t possibly meet.  And, since it did not manage to either surpass or even match Ghostbusters, I think people assumed they hated it more than they should have.  It’s still very funny and easily as quotable.  I know I’ve busted out lines from this movie at random times for comedic effect.  Some of my favorites are “He is Vigo!  You are like the buzzing of flies to him!”, “I have all NEW cheap moves”, “Carpathian Kitten Loss”, and “Do. Re.  Egon!”  I really don’t understand people hating on this movie so much.  I understand the first one set that high bar, but you couldn’t have not laughed in this movie.  It’s still very humorous and the story is at least nearly as good as the first one.  A very minor step down from the first movie.  Also, I wasn’t a fan of the whole “people should be nice to each other or ooze will form under your city” message.  And the dialogue is just as clever.  It does take a step up graphically.  One can assume the great success of the first movie netted them a good amount extra money for the sequel, so you would expect the graphics to step up.

Murray still brings it.  You can’t keep that man from awesomeness.  He’s still hilarious and charming in a way that makes you believe that this dude could land Sigourney Weaver … twice!  Aykroyd and Ramis give the same quality of performance they gave in the first movie, and I feel no need to retype it.  It was yesterday, for crying out loud.  Ernie Hudson still isn’t in it very much, but he did get a few good moments, like when the ghost train ran through him.  Sigourney is still good here, and the 80’s hair is beginning to calm down.  Annie Potts got hotter, in my opinion, and I don’t need your approval for that.  Psst … call me …  Rick Moranis’ characters little attempt to be the hero didn’t do anything for me, and I might be hating on him because he got to knock the boots with Annie Potts.  Peter MacNicol was a new addition to the movies, and a welcome one.  I felt like he could have been the second funniest character in the movie.  That crazy accent he got from being from the Upper West Side was ridiculous.  Baby Oscar, played by William and Hank Deutschendorf perhaps didn’t need to be credited here, but they were adorable as babies.  Wilhelm von Homburg was a little hit and miss.  Sometimes he was freaky as Vigo the Carpathian, and sometimes he just looked goofy.

So there that is.  Back up off Ghostbusters II’s jock, alright?  Yeah, it’s not as good as Ghostbusters, but neither are a lot of movies you like.  And I’d wager Ghostbusters II is still a contender with any of those movies you may be thinking of because it still has a good story, still has great characters that are performed well, still has clever dialogue, and even has better graphics when compared to the original.  Not AS good, but definitely good.  Ghostbusters II gets “And you don’t want us exposing ourselves!” out of “How many of you people out here are a national monument?  Raise your hand.”

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