Title: The Fog
Distributor: AVCO Embassy Pictures
Writer: John Carpenter & Debra Hill
Director: John Carpenter
Producer: Debra Hill
Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook
Released: February 1st, 1980
It’s confession time, ladies and gents. When I was a kid, I used to wait until my Mom (or Grandmother) would go to bed, then go watch movies that I wasn’t allowed to under normal circumstances. One of the earliest horror movies I can remember watching and being completely frightened of, is the John Carpenter classic, The Fog. Lets be honest for a second, shall we. What boy wouldn’t want to watch a scary movie with Adrienne Barbeau (her big screen debut) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween) in it? Exactly my point. I was always fascinated by being scared, and movies by guys like Carpenter were just perfect. The film received mixed reviews, but did quite good at the box office. On a budget of around one million dollars, it brought in over twenty million. You’ll notice some familiar faces in this film from earlier Carpenter movies, and the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, as well!
The movie begins with an old sailor, as he tells a ghost story to a bunch of kids while camping on the beach (Boy Scouts?). He tells them of a ship that crashed on the shores of this very coastline, one-hundred years ago. He tells how they were killed because on an unearthly fog, that confused them on their location. Across town, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook), is startled when a stone from the wall pops out, crashing to the floor. Inside the wall he finds a journal, and begins to read. Over at the lighthouse, DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), is doing her nightly show, and settling in just before midnight. At that exact moment, the entire town goes absolutely bonkers. A small tremor hits the town, pay phones ring, car horns begin honking, dogs bark wildly, etc.
Next, we see Nick Castle, as he’s driving home. He sees a hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis), so he picks her up. There’s also a small ship out at sea, and after getting drunk, the crew decide to head back home. Before they can though, they hear Stevie Wayne’s weather report, and she reports a fog bank coming this way. They see it, and before they know it, a ship is right next to them. As they proceed to the upper deck, two of them meet some ghastly figures in the dark. As they stand in fear, unable to move, both men are cut down by the zombie-like men. Below decks, the one man left is skewered by another of the ghostly figures. Over at Nick’s place, he’s already talked Elizabeth (Jamie Lee Curtis) into jumping in the sack with him. As they’re having some pillow talk, a knock at the door interrupts them. Nick gets up to answer it, but the clock face shatters, and strikes 1AM. As he answers the door, no one is there, just fog.
The next day, Nick and Elizabeth charter a boat to go out and find his buddies that never came back the night before. They find the ship, but it seems that nobody is left aboard. As they go to the lower decks, they find that the ship was freezing cold, and also it’s taken on water. Nick knows this can’t be possible, but the evidence tells him otherwise. Back in town, Father Malone gets a visit from Kathy (Janet Leigh) and Sandy (Nancy Loomis), about the celebration tonight for the town anniversary. Father Malone, has basically had a breakdown over the journal from his grandfather. It told a story of how his grandfather, and five other founders of the town betrayed a ship full of lepers that wanted to buy land near Antonio Bay. The settlers built a fire near some huge rocks near the shoreline, and lured the ship full of lepers there, where they crashed and died, one hundred years ago.
As night falls, Stevie heads to the radio station, and the fog slowly rolls in to town. Her son is at home with his geriatric babysitter, Mrs. Kobritz, who gets put out of her misery, but that leaves Stevie’s son alone against the horror in the fog. The power goes out in the town, the phone lines are down, and the fog begins to envelop Antonio Bay. It’s up to Stevie, Nick, Elizabeth, and a small group of townspeople, to find a way to stop the sinister beings in the fog!
Alright, here we go with my thoughts:
Initially, people might dismiss this film for a myriad of reasons, but I choose to look at the positives. Adrienne Barbeau actually does a great job in this flick. She’s very convincing, especially at the part where her son is in jeopardy. She only speaks in person once on the film, and that’s with her son. Other than that, she talks on the radio and with the weatherman on the phone. Still, a great performance on her part, especially when you consider it was her first movie. Tom Atkins is a good “man of action” type, and even the small parts Janet Leigh, and Hal Holbrook played are done well. The real stars of the movie though are John Carpenter & Debra Hill. If you look at not only this film, but all of their collaborations, you really get a sense that they were made to work together. This film certainly exemplifies that statement. Some very intense scenes, and the music score (Carpenter as well), really added to the mood, and will give you shivers up your spine! It’s now also available on Blu-ray, so if you wan to go that route, you have that option.
I haven’t seen this one in ages. But I thought it was very creepy, as well as intelligently written. It is one of those ghost stories where the spirits of the dead have, from their point of view, a very legitimate reason to be terrorizing the town, and a reason why they cannot find peace beyond the grave. I’ve always thought John Carpenter was a great, underrated director.
I need to buy this one on DVD. I can see it on Dailymotion right now though. Carpenter is a great director! Thanks for the comment!
Great review, that campfire story at the beginning really sets the chilling standard.
For sure! That creepy old guy can really set a mood!