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.In the Mouth of Madness4 of 5 stars Rated R, 95 minutes. Available Tuesday 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.
ABOVE: John Carpenter’s 1995 fantasy horror film “In the Mouth of Madness,” is a social commmentary on the effects of violent media.
New Line Cinemas
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 (Village of the Damned; Escape from L.A.; Vampires 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.Extras: Available for preorder through shoutfactory.com/shop, 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.
■Memoirs of an Invisible Man (★★★) 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.
LEFT: “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” became a passion project for Chevy Chase, left.
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.Rated PG-13, 99 minutes.Extras: Available for preorder through shoutfactory.com/shop, the release includes vintage interviews, a featurette on the digital effects, behind-the-scenes footage, outtakes, a theatrical trailer and TV spots.■
Ready Player One (★★A) Steven Spielberg has no doubt made his imprint on Hollywood. However, his more adventurous titles today lack the spark of his earlier days. His latest, Ready Player One, is driven by nostalgia and doesn’t have much to offer of its own. Everything that happens is predictable and familiar, and sometimes, doesn’t make much sense at all. Our characters (Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke) spend too much time in the virtual world to make us care about what happens to them outside it. Aside from some stunning CGI and one spectacular scene near the middle (hint: it takes place inside a popular ‘80s horror movie), Ready Player One needed to step up its game.Rated PG-13, 140 minutes.Extras: Better than the movie itself, the bonus content comes with more than 90 minutes of material that see Spielberg and the cast discussing ‘80s nostalgia and how they achieved the impossible.■Windrider (★★★A) If it wasn’t for the MVD Rewind Collection, 1986’s Windrider would have no chance at a second life. It wasn’t released on DVD and it didn’t sell too many VHS copies, either. So if you’re curious to see a pre-famous Nicole Kidman and a solid-enough movie about windsurfing, rock music and a love affair, Windrider is a breezy, energetic ride.Rated R, 92 minutes.Extras: Available for preorder through mvdshop.com, this special collector’s edition is as ideal as it gets. It includes an audio commentary with the filmmakers, a music promo featuring Kidman, a windsurfing promo, a still gallery, a theatrical trailer, a collectible mini-poster and a perfect slipcover (complete with a retro “be kind rewind” and “New release: One night rental” sticker) to spice up your movie collection.