The Fog (1980)
Film: The Fog
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh
This was a film that I originally sought out in college. I remember sitting on the floor of my dorm freshman year and watching this film. Now I didn’t really care for it that first time, but with each viewing I have I appreciate it more and more. This last viewing was in my local theater. The official synopsis is an unearthly fog rolls into a small coastal town exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in its waters.
This film begins with an old captain checking his watch to see that it is 11:55 pm. He tells a bunch of children a story that will end at midnight. The story he tells is of a ship that crashed in this bay 100 years ago that leads up to the founding of this town. He talks about the sailors on his ship will come back for the revenge of those with a campfire that led to their doom. There was also fog which caused them to crash.
This is an interesting concept. The film takes place in 1980, so it is creative to have the original incident take place in 1880, marking the one hundred year anniversary like the tale stated. There were actually some things I was confused by until this last viewing, but it has finally been cleared up. The first was why everything went haywire and why the ship in the beginning is attacked. This is pieced together by Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) from the diary of his grandfather.
I do think that this film might have had a tighter story though if they would have had the ancestors of those that were behind everything the ones where the ones that the fog is coming for. I still think what this film did is good, but that is just something I was thinking of that could have made it better.
The film is actually paced very well. I will admit the opening story I thought was just there to fill time. I have come to realize though that Stevie Wayne’s (Adrienne Barbeau) son is there listening. This is a solid move to give us the back-story while also making sure it has a place in the film. We do get some action and weird things happening before it goes into trying to solve the mystery. Director/writer John Carpenter does get the film going for the final climax as well. I wasn’t a fan how this film ends either. I just think they took the cheap route instead of sticking with the lore they had built.
The cast for this film is actually outstanding. You have scream queen legend Jamie Lee Curtis as Elizabeth Solley. She a hitchhiker who is picked up by Nick Castle (Tom Atkins). They are the ones piecing the mystery together as well as Holbrook. I thought they were both solid in this film. Along with this is Curtis’ mother, Janet Leigh. I thought she had a good cameo in the film. Barbeau and Holbrook are both solid in this film as well. It was also nice to see Charles Cyphers and Nancy Kyes, both of them are from Halloween along with Curtis. I also found it funny that Carpenter named Atkins’ and Cyphers’ characters after his friends and film school classmates, Nick Castle and Dan O’Bannon.
Effects for this film were actually really good as well. I have to talk about the fog. It isn’t normal as it has a glow to it. I like what they did to make it seem real, even when it is moving in ways that isn’t possible. I thought that was a good touch. The death scenes I thought were just fine. There’s not really a lot in the way of blood though. The things in the fog also look good and the film itself is shot very well.
Something else that needed to be talked about would be the score of the film. Carpenter also did this. Now it isn’t as good as Halloween, but it is still one that I listen to on a regular basis while writing. He has just a way of making even scenes that nothing is really happening feel ominous. It is well done.
Now with that said, I would recommend this film as it is a classic from Carpenter. This is a good ghost revenge story. The acting is good. The story itself is solid. I like how they tie everything in, but I just wish they would have went with a ‘sins of the father’ angle. This film is spooky, the creatures look good and the death scenes are pretty solid. The score is pretty amazing as well. I found this to be a good horror film overall and definitely worth at least a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10