I Am Your Horror Hard-On, Fanboy!

In The Mouth Of Madness - Sutter Cane Collection
Back in 1995 John Carpenter released his love letter to all things H.P. Lovecraft in the form of In The Mouth Of Madness. The film wasn't very well received at the time. Critics hated it and the fans stayed away in droves (I wasn't one of them). By the time it had been in theaters for a month, it had only managed to rake in a disappointing $8,671,748. Still, it has enjoyed a relatively healthy afterlife on the home video market and finally, after all these years, found itself an appreciative audience. I'll be honest, the film is full of glaring flaws and missed opportunities but yet has enough merit to make it worth any horror fan's time. There are moments (sporadic though they might be) wherein the film comes to magnificent, creepy, atmospheric life.

Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow) is the world's best-selling author of the macabre whose newest novel is literally driving readers insane. When he inexplicably vanishes, his publisher (Charlton Heston) sends special investigator John Trent (Sam Neill) to track him down. Drawn to the town of Hobb's End, which only exists in Cane's books, Trent crosses the barrier between fact and fiction and enters a terrifying world from which there is no escape.

For years after viewing the film I was taken with the notion of how gosh-darn-cool it would have been if there existed some sort of media tie-in coinciding with the film's release wherein a published version of one of Sutter Cane's novels made it on to bookshelves. The film didn't help out my nerdy salivation at the idea by presenting within it's plot, delicious morsels of information about what some of those novels would have contained. That and those lurid book covers just fueled the fire.

Flashing forward to the present, talk about a geek-gasm! It came to my attention recently that these nonexistent Sutter Cane "novels", authentic props from John Carpenter's In The Mouth Of Madness, had been up for auction on eBay last year. Of course they're not real despite how convincing they look. Indeed, I imagine that if you were to crack the spine they would be full of blank, white pages but who cares, right? You'd be holding them in your hands, and as every good fanboy knows how to do, you could pretend. You could imagine.

According to the listing on eBay, all six books, which comprise the bibliography of Sutter Cane (save for the film's titular novel, In The Mouth Of Madness, which wasn't offered as part of the collection) were signed by special effects wizard Robert Kurtzman with a letter of authenticity written for us skeptical folks. Unfortunately, as much as it was a fanboy delusion on my part that these novels should one day exist (with text on the pages from beginning to end) so too is the dream that I could ever hope to own even the dummy copies. At the time, the seller's Buy It Now asking price was $2,499. I'm sure that if I had just picked up an extra job or three...

In the end, I'm not privy to knowing what they ultimately sold for (sorry) but I am certain beyond a doubt, that somewhere out there, there is a very pleased Carpenter fan gazing appreciatively at his or her bookshelf.

"Lived any good books lately?"

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