The later career of John Carpenter was marked by a gradual fall from the form that made him a legend in genre filmmaking. He put that fall on hold for one glorious moment when his last truly great movie — In The Mouth of Madness — opened today in 1995. Sam Neill plays a cynical private investigator hired to find a missing horror author, only to end up in one of the author’s books brought to life. (Or was he always there?) The film had great fun breaking down the fourth wall, as well as playing with the idea that horror stories are somehow responsible for social unrest… and what things would look like if that were really the case.
Genre filmmaking also saw a few more modern notables opening today. The Innkeepers, Ti West’s wonderful slow-burn tale of a haunted hotel, opened today in 2011, while Chronicle, the fascinating debut of director Josh Trank (whose implosion during 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot is now the stuff of Hollywood legend), debuted today in 2012.
On a much different note, Walt Disney Pictures released The Three Caballeros today in 1945. It strings together a loose series of sketches aimed at exploring and celebrating Latin America, linked by Donald Duck palling around with a pair of animated bird friends. It’s minor Disney at best, but retains some charm and is interesting simply to see something off the beaten path from the House of Mouse.