In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

From Television and Film Character Encyclopedia

An insurance fraud investigator searches for a missing horror writer.


Apocalyptic, Supernatural

Horror, Supernatural


John Trent - Sam Neill

Linda Styles - Julie Carmen

Sutter Cane - Jurgen Prochnow

Dr. Wrenn - David Warner

Saperstein - John Glover

Robinson - Bernie Casey

Mr. Paul - Peter Jason

Jackson Harglow - Charlton Heston

Mrs. Pickman - Frances Bay

Simon - Wilhelm von Homburg

Guard 1 - Kevin Rushton

Guard 2 - Gene Mack

Axe Maniac - Conrad Bergschneider

Reporter - Marvin Scott

Receptionist - Katherine Ashby

Young Teen - Ben Gilbert

Cop - Dennis O'Connor

Scrawny Teen - Paul Brogren

Homeless Lady - Sharon Dyer

Bicycle Boy - Sean Ryan

Little Boy - Lance Paton

Little Girl - Jacelyn Holmes

Paper Boy - Hayden Christensen

Truck Driver - Garry Robbins

Desk Clerk - Sean Roberge

Hotel Man - Robert Lewis Bush

Old Lady - Louise Beaven

Bus Driver - Cliff Woolner

Municipal Woman - Deborah Theaker

Customer - Chuck Campbell

Nurse - Carolyn Tweedle

Farmer - Thom Bell

Window Teen - Mark Adriaans

Simon's Son (Johnny) - Jack Moore-Wickham

Group of Kids - David Austerwell, Richard Kohler, Kieran Sells, Laura Schmidt, Kyle Sheehan, Daniel Verhoeven, Kevin Zegers, and Katie Zegers

Hobb's End Horror

Residents of Hobb's End

Great Old Ones

Character thumbnails with links to profiles

Detailed Synopsis

An ambulance arrives at a mental hospital. Saperstein is on the phone when he gets word that a patient is being dropped off. He goes up to the Nurse and tells her that John Trent is arriving. John is dragged into the building by Guard 1 and Guard 2 and Saperstein tells them to put John in Room 9. John is put into the room and yells that he isn't insane. Saperstein plays music on the PA system to distract the screaming patients and someone knocks on the glass of John's room. When John goes to look, no one is there and a shadow walks behind him. The shadow turns out to be Sutter Cane who tells John, it isn't the end yet. Dr. Wrenn arrives at the hospital and is met by Saperstein who takes him to John's room. They enter John's room and find him drawing crosses all over the walls of his room with a black crayon. Dr. Wrenn tells John that he wants to help get him released from the hospital, but John wants to stay. John asks Dr. Wrenn if the outside world is collapsing and then starts to tell him how everything started that led to where he is now.

In the past, John is at a meeting with Robinson and Mr. Paul. John is questioning Mr. Paul, who had filed a claim for items lost in a fire. John tells Mr. Paul that Robinson thinks Mr. Paul started the fire. He then tells Mr. Paul that they have photographs of Mrs. Paul wearing items that Mr. Paul says were lost in the fire. Robinson hands Mr. Paul the photos and John tells Mr. Paul that he showed Mrs. Paul photos of Mr. Paul's mistress, and Mrs. Paul then told them everything. Afterwards, John and Robinson go to a restaurant and Robinson invites John to work for his company and then tells him he wants him to investigate a claim from Arcane Publishing. As they are talking, an Axe Maniac walks up to the window near them and shatters it with the axe. The Axe Maniac asks John if he reads Sutter Cane and as he is about to kill John with the axe, is shot dead by police. Later on the news, a Reporter reports on the influence of Sutter Cane's books on his readers. John goes to Arcane Publishing and is brought by the Receptionist to Jackson Harglow's office. Linda Styles walks into the room and Jackson tells John that Sutter Cane disappeared two months ago. He tells him that the last person to hear from him was his agent, who also happened to be the Axe Maniac. The meeting ends and John tells Linda that he thinks the whole thing is a publicity stunt. Linda tells him that a year before his disappearance, Sutter Cane's work became more erratic and bizarre and he began to think that his writing was real and not fiction.

As John is walking home he sees a poster for Sutter Cane's book, The Hobb's End Horror. He hears a noise and sees a Cop beating up on a Young Teen who spray painted I CA on the side of a building. John starts to walk away as the Cop asks if he wants a beating too. John calls Robinson and assures him that the disappearance is a scam. As John is buying some Sutter Cane books from the bookstore, he is approached by a Scrawny Teen who tells him that Sutter Cane can see John. John starts to read the Sutter Cane books and has a nightmare where he is witnessing the Cop beating the Young Teen, but this time he is surrounded by the Axe Maniac and some homeless people including Homeless Lady. The Axe Maniac is then chopped up by the homeless people and parts of him are eaten by the Homeless Lady. The next morning, John notices red lines on the covers of the books and cuts out the red outlines. He puts them together and has another meeting with Jackson and Linda and shows them that the cut outs form a map of New Hampshire and he believes Sutter Cane is at the town of Hobb's End in New Hampshire. John tells them that he thinks they are lying about Sutter Cane's disappearance and agrees to go searching for him with Linda. John and Linda drive to New Hampshire and they have a discussion on reality and she brings up that if the crazy took over the world, then he would be the one in the padded cell. As Linda is driving and John is sleeping she sees a Bicycle Boy riding in the dark. As she drives, she passes him again, but this time, he has aged to an old man. As she is looking at the map, she hits the Bicycle Boy. She pulls over and the Bicycle Boy tells her that Sutter Cane won't let him leave. As she is looking down, another Bicycle Boy walks by her and disappears into the darkness. The radio goes to static and as Linda is driving, the road disappears and is replaced by clouds until she drives onto a bridge that leads to the town of Hobb's End.

They park and watch as a Group of Kids chase a dog through the streets. They drive to Pickman Hotel, which matches the details as described in Cane Sutter's book, even including a painting in the entrance. Mrs. Pickman checks them in and as John is asking her questions about the town and Sutter Cane, Linda notices the couple in the painting have changed positions. They go to room 9 and Linda opens one of the windows and the view is of a large church, just like in the books. They drive to the church and Linda again sees the Group of Kids chasing after the dog. A group of vehicle drive up to the church and Simon and a group of men run over to the church and Simon yells for Sutter Cane to release Simon's Son (Johnny). The door to the church opens and Simon's Son (Johnny) stares at Simon, before the doors suddenly close and open again. They open again and instead of Simon's Son (Johnny) standing at the doors, Sutter Cane is standing there. A group of doberman pincers then appear and attack Simon and the other men. A Little Girl stares at John and Linda as they are leaving and tells them, I see. John and Linda go back to the hotel and he accuses her and Jackson of setting him up. She tells him that Jackson and her had set up a publicity stunt, but Sutter Cane never showed up and everything in Hobb's End is real. She tells him that some things that they are witnessing are from chapters that Sutter Cane wrote for his new book. She says that the new book is about the end of the world.

As John is leaving the hotel he notices the couple in the painting are looking in his direction and the woman matches the Homeless Lady in his dream. He lights a cigarette and Mrs. Pickman asks him to put it out. He notices that her appearance has started to change and as he is distracted, Linda drives away in the car. A moan rings out and Mrs. Pickman tells Farmer, who is naked and handcuffed to her ankle, to be quiet. John goes to the bar and Simon stumbles in and tells him to leave town. John accuses Simon of being an actor and Simon tells him an evil is leaking out of the church. Linda goes to the church and as she is walking towards it, a ball rolls towards her and the Group of Kids and the dog, which is now missing a leg, stand nearby. A Little Boy tells her to give the ball back and Little Girl tells her that she is their mom. Linda goes inside of the church and finds Sutter Cane typing on a typewriter. He tells her that the Great Old Ones told him what to write and gave him the power to make it real. He then forces her to read his book and she starts to bleed from her eyes. They kiss and a creature growing from his head and back growls. She returns back to the hotel room and she tells John that she is losing herself and not to look at the book.

John goes to the hotel entrance and notices the couple in the painting have now transformed into tentacle monsters. He hears shrieking coming from a room and finds Mrs. Pickman, now with tentacles, chopping up Farmer. He goes back to the hotel room and finds Linda is also a tentacle monster. He runs to the car and sees the Hobb's End Horror in the greenhouse. He drives into town and sees the Residents of Hobb's End surrounding Linda. He goes back to the bar and sees Simon who tells him that reality is not what it used to be. Simon then shoots himself in the head. John walks outside the bar and the Residents of Hobb's End are gathered with torches and weapons. Linda punches him and he punches her back and puts her in the car. She swallows the keys and he is forced to hotwire the car. John stops the car when Linda keeps on trying to kiss him and he sees the Bicycle Boy. Linda's body changes and contorts and John gets back into the car and drives away. As he tries to drive out of town, he is transported back to the middle of town, time and time again. He finally drives through the Residents of Hobb's End and crashes the car trying to avoid hitting Linda. He wakes up in a church confessional and Sutter Cane tells him his books reach more people than religious texts. He tells John that when people fail to be able to tell the difference between reality and fiction, then the Great Old Ones will come back. Sutter Cane finishes typing up the manuscript and hands it to John and tells him that he will be the one to deliver it to the world. He tells John that the Axe Maniac had read about John's part in the book and tried to stop him. A portal opens up and Sutter Cane rips himself to pieces like a book. Linda tells John that she has to stay and John runs through the portal as the Great Old Ones break through into Earth.

He appears in the middle of a road and asks a Paper Boy that is riding by, the direction to the highway. He drops the manuscript and gets a ride from a Truck Driver. He stays at the Woodbine Motel in room 6 and the Desk Clerk tells him he has a package. John opens the package and it is the manuscript for Sutter Cane's book. John goes back and grabs the Desk Clerk and demands to know who delivered it. Hotel Man tells John, he didn't see anyone deliver it. John burns the book in the sink and takes a bus back to New York City. An Old Lady sitting next to him rambles on to him about New York during the Great Depression. During the trip back, John has a nightmare where he sees Sutter Cane again and screams in fright. The Bus Driver tells him to relax and the Old Lady tells him it was just a dream. He goes to the municipal office and Municipal Woman tells him there is no town of Hobb's End and never has been. He walks back to the alley where the Cop was beating the Young Teen, but no one is there. He goes to Jackson's office and tells him what happened, but Jackson tells him there is no one named Linda and John delivered the manuscript months ago and the movie is about to come out. A news announcer says the In the Mouth of Madness is about to reach record sales, and in other news the police cannot explain the surge in violent crime by clergy members. John goes to a bookstore and asks a Customer if he likes the book and then kills him with an axe.

John finishes telling his story to Dr. Wrenn and Dr. Wrenn says he is going to leave, but will come back. Before he leaves, John tells Dr. Wrenn that within 10 years, the human species will be a bed time story. Dr. Wrenn tells Saperstein that his interview with John was useless and walks away. The power goes out and John hears people screaming in fear and sees shadows of things killing people. His door is ripped open and he walks out of the mental hospital and finds the Earth in ruins. An emergency broadcast tells listeners that the cities are mostly deserted and there are fewer and fewer people who are not infected and people are starting to mutate. He walks to a theater playing In the Mouth of Madness starring John Trent. He grabs some popcorn and watches the movie, which consists of everything he experienced in the past few months. John watches it and starts to laugh and cry.