The Fog

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Year: 1980
Director: John Carpenter
Writers: Debra Hill, John Carpenter
Starring: Adrienne Barbeau , Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Hal Holbrook, George ‘Buck’ Flower, John Houseman
Favorite Quote: “11:55…almost Midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before 12, just to keep us warm.”

When the Fog first debuted in my neck of the woods, like a few great horror movies of that time, it didn’t get picked up by the theaters but instead went straight to the Drive-In. It was released in February of that year which meant the Drive-In was closed for the season but when it finally did get shown it was a double feature for Curtis as the second film was Prom Night. Right from the start this movie sinks its hooks into you with an Edgar Allen Poe quote: “Is all that we see or seem but a dream?” In my youth I was a huge Poe devotee so when I saw that on the giant Drive-In screen with the steady ticking of a pocket watch…I was ready for some scares. I received them too.

As I briefly touched upon up above the beginning of this movie really gets to me. We have Mr. Machen (Houseman) telling a tale of Antonio Bay’s past to a group of young children sitting by a large fire. At the stroke of Midnight it will mark Antonio Bay’s Centennial but unbeknown to its citizens it will also mark the date of a reckoning for their ancestor’s dark deeds. I’ve stated before that I love John Carpenter movies, particularly his older films, he was really plugged into something there but I’ve noticed for some strange reason this film doesn’t get a lot of love. I admit that maybe not everything works in the film but I defy you to tell me the scene where a gold doubloon transforms into a piece of driftwood, obviously that is not all that occurs, isn’t one of the most hair-raising scenes in a horror movie. Thanks to the commentary I found out that what we see was really a last minute editing job, with an additional and important scene filmed in John Carpenter’s garage…not that you’ll ever know the scene unless you listen to the commentary.

With its great cast, in particular Hal Holbrook (Though it is said he didn’t care for the part himself), Tom Atkins, Jamie Lee Curtis, and her mother Janet Leigh, you do enjoy the characters they portray, you worry about them when the Fog starts to close in on them, and the dark shapes begin to emerge to do them harm.

Until I listened to the commentary from John Carpenter and Debra Hill I also never had noticed all of the names of Carpenter’s friends and horror characters. I’m not sure how I missed this when the medical examiner is named Dr. Phibes, even in my youth I should have picked up on that one. You should put this one on your Netflix queue or better yet go ahead and hit Wal-mart or Best Buy to pick it up for about five dollars in their Halloween DVD sections. The Fog is a very solid ghost tale and a different one at that so it earns its four and a half pumpkins out of five.

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2 thoughts on “The Fog

  1. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Inescapable Halloween fare for me as well.
    Loved this movie then and now. At the time, there was a Fangoria article with creepy ghost pics that made me gleeful with anticipation.
    The dvd commentary just shows how Carpenter loves movies and his fans.
    And very interesting indeed how the re-shoots upped the slasher aspect, while all he wanted to do was a ghost story.
    But it all worked out so well.
    Gonna watch this again soon.

    And this is one of JL Curtis’ best horror flicks of that time.
    For me, Terror Train is the only other one (other than Halloween) that holds well.
    Prom Night is more derivative of Terror Train, or even Carrie, than the Carpenter holiday classic.

  2. Thanks as always, Atari Adventure Square, for your kind words. It’s interesting about Carpenter and his commentaries…take In the Mouth of Madness for example, it is a complete bore, he just talks about the colored gels they used on lights in certain scenes, its not until near the end that he starts to provide some useful trivia info.

    But listen to his commentaries with Kurt Russell and I promise you will not have a more enjoyable audio experience as they just keep cutting up and telling such wonderful stories about the making of the film. :)

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