Preston Barta // Features Editor

Pablo Picasso once said, “Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”

All art is an illusion, but it can teach us a lot about ourselves. Whether it’s a movie that sees a masked killer chasing Jamie Lee Curtis around or Roddy Piper sporting some shades to witness an alien invasion, film can educate as much as it entertains.


Rated R, 95 minutes.
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Sam NeillJürgen ProchnowJulie CarmenDavid WarnerJohn GloverBernie CaseyCharlton Heston and Frances Bay
Available today on Blu-ray through Scream Factory.

Horror maestro John Carpenter’s 1995 fantasy horror film IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS certainly has a lot on its mind. While it may look like a movie that is pure insanity, and with monsters that feel like descendants from the titular creature in THE THING, Carpenter aptly conveys his social commentary in the film. It plays as a metaphorical satire against those who believe violence in media has a negative impact on society.

Starring Sam Neill as insurance investigator John Trent, the film’s central story revolves around some fascinatingly challenging questions: What is reality? Can fantasy ever become reality? And if enough people believe in a fantastical concept, can it eventually become truth and everyone’s reality?

Through the story of a best-selling horror novelist whose work corrupts readers and gives them the power to alter reality (and become monsters), MADNESS succeeds in bringing its audience to a more profound level of thinking. Does media really inspire senseless acts of murder and mayhem? Does life imitate art? There’s so much to reflect on.

IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS is Carpenter’s last truly great film. While I have an appreciation for certain elements in his later works (his VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED remake; ESCAPE FROM L.A.; VAMPIRE and GHOST OF MARS), Madness is thoroughly engaging, with great performances and meaty dialogue. It may be puzzling to some upon first viewing, but if you watch it again and dive into all the great special features that Scream Factory packs into its collector’s edition, you’ll find IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS to be one helluva bite.

[Grade: B+]

Extras: Available for preorder through, the collector’s edition includes a new and vintage audio commentary, a handful of new interviews and featurettes, a vintage making-of, a theatrical trailer and TV spots.

  • NEW 4K scan of the original film elements
  • NEW Audio Commentary with director John Carpenter and producer Sandy King Carpenter
  • NEW Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – A look at the film’s locations today
  • NEW The Whisperer Of The Dark – An interview with actress Julie Carman
  • NEW Greg Nicotero’s Things In The Basement – A new interview with special effects Artist Greg Nicotero including Behind the scenes footage
  • NEW Home Movies From Hobb’s End – Behind-the-scenes footage from Greg Nicotero
  • Audio Commentary with director John Carpenter and cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe
  • Vintage Featurette – The Making Of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots


Rated PG-13, 99 minutes.
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Chevy ChaseDaryl HannahSam NeillMichael McKeanStephen TobolowskyJim Norton and Pat Skipper
Available today on Blu-ray through Scream Factory.

In 1992, this Carpenter-directed film was seen by many as a dismal failure and a sure sign of Chevy Chase’s film career demise. However, I was pleasantly surprised by its charm, quick-wittedness and Chase’s dramatic acting chops.

This is essentially a lighter version of the horror movie HOLLOW MAN. It follows aloof stock analyst Nick Holloway (maybe the name is a coincidence), who has a mishap at a laboratory complex, is turned invisible and is pursued by the CIA (led by Sam Neill). Now on the run from the law, Holloway is trying to rebuild his life in his new form, while also trying to get the girl (Daryl Hannah) in the process.

MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN was a passion project for Chase. The film was originally slated to be directed by Ivan Reitman (GHOSTBUSTERS), but Chase wanted it to reach beyond the broad comedies he’s best known for. So Carpenter stepped in, and the film is thrown a bit off balance because of it. There are times when Chase’s more renowned roles like Clark Griswold and Irwin ‘Fletch’ Fletcher seep through, but the special effects and wild imagination make it quite the sight.

[Grade: B-]

Extras: Available for preorder through, the release includes vintage interviews, a featurette on the digital effects, behind-the-scenes footage, outtakes, a theatrical trailer and TV spots.

  • NEW 2K scan of the original film elements
  • How To Become Invisible: The Dawn Of Digital F/X
  • Vintage interviews with director John Carpenter and actors Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.