The Fog is another John Carpenter film. Carpenter, is renown as a horror director, and has been in the director’s chair for other horror classics like The Thing, Halloween and Prince of Darkness. The Fog is arguably his most underrated movie. Carpenter is a real American director. He’s been influenced by spaghetti Westerns over the years, and has huge admiration for Sergio Leone. In most of his films, the bad guys are usually zombie-like without much personality or emotion. This is the same for The Fog.
Fog is eerie, mysterious and unstoppable. It hides and distorts our vision whether driving, walking for sailing. The fog is what caused several crewman to die at Spivey Point, off the coast of Antonnio Bay. This small fishing village was built by the gold recovered from the Elizabeth Dane, after her leper crew were sent to the ocean depths. In a heavy fog, some conspirators started a camp-fire to lure the leper crew towards the rocks. Now 100 years later, on the centenary celebration of that night, the ghostly crew have returned to reclaim their gold, cloaked by the same glowing fog. Father Malone (Hal Holbrook), learns of the wealthy leper Blake from a journal found in the church wall. He discovers that his grandfather was one of the conspirators. Blake and his zombie crew have returned to take revenge on Antonnio Bay and its residents.
Carpenter builds the film up with some eerie scenes reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s artwork. The sleepy fishing town, is disrupted by signs that the town is haunted. Something evil is lurking and moves through the town, affecting and frightening the locals. Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), the resident radio host, chats to her listeners and provides some continuity as the evil presence makes itself known. A ship bearing 3 seamen is missing at sea, as a mysterious fog is reported just off the coast.
Carpenter is eclectic in his movie-making. He usually writes, directs and composes the music. In The Fog, his music is dark, chilling and haunting, qualities that add to the atmosphere and cinematography. The film has a Twin Peaks feel at times, and the strange happenings seem to grow more and more disturbing until we are confronted by the horrific truth of what really happened a century ago.
It’s a revenge story that creates tension and suspense through the perilous fog that seems to swamp it’s victims before blades and hooks run red. Horror fans will appreciate the film for its ability to outlast others in its genre. The story is compelling, the performances are believable and the horror is amplified by well-timed special effects. So much can be accomplished by smoke and mirrors - and The Fog shows how effective this can be.
It was made in 1980, and although the theme remains timeless, identifying with the story is made difficult by early 80s memorabilia. However, it’s the scares, atmosphere and compelling story that makes this film a gem. The acting isn’t the focus, but Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh and Adrienne Barbeau still manage to convey the fear of being shrouded by the evil presence.
In it’s heyday, The Fog would’ve scored a 7, but the special effects and acting are not up to today’s standards. Nevertheless, it remains a John Carpenter horror classic.
The bottom line: Chilling.