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In the Mouth of Madness$
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Michael Blyth

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781911325406

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781911325406.001.0001

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‘All Those Horrible, Slimy Things’

‘All Those Horrible, Slimy Things’

(p.35) Chapter 3: ‘All Those Horrible, Slimy Things’
In the Mouth of Madness

Michael Blyth

Liverpool University Press

This chapter investigates how John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness (1995) serves as a direct tribute to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, examining how his influence shapes the narrative structure and conceptual ideologies of the film. Lovecraft's attitude towards the universe, and humanity's place within it, is so singularly nihilistic that it constitutes its own philosophical-literary construct: cosmicism. With In the Mouth of Madness, Carpenter is among the few filmmakers who has seriously attempted to present cosmicism in cinematic terms: to film the unknowable, the unspeakable, and the unseeable. Ultimately, one may consider the film not only as an attempt to respectfully bring forth Lovecraft's ‘horrible slimy things’ to the screen, but also to render the unspeakable metaphysical horrors of his universe and the futility of humanity's place within it. Comparing In the Mouth of Madness to other cinematic adaptations of Lovecraft's work, the chapter argues that Carpenter's film displays a rare understanding of Lovecraftian ideologies, offering up a rich cinematic conceptualisation of his distinct brand of cosmic horror, despite not being based on any one specific Lovecraft text.

Keywords:   John Carpenter, In the Mouth of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft, cosmicism, metaphysical horrors, Lovecraftian ideologies, cosmic horror

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