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The Fog

A 1980 film directed by John Carpenter.

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Creepy, surreal horror atmosphere keeps Carpenter's highly successful fright flick afloat.

  • Jan 9, 2012
*** out of ****

I absolutely adore seaside terror. As a resident of coastal Maine; I can relate to these tales for their locations, their adapted characters, their situations, and above all, their monsters. While there are certainly some seaside classics in the horror genre; it doesn't get enough respect nowadays and I think that needs to change. But of course, until someone decides to be brave and take up the nigh impossible task of creating a new, great modern seaside horror movie; there's always the classics - both major and minor- and John Carpenter's "The Fog" is a good example of the latter part of that category.

This is a very crafty little chiller that is almost certain to inspire its fair share of memorable frights. But did I really expect anything less from Carpenter - the man who could once effortlessly shell out genre classics such as "The Thing", "Halloween", and "They Live" -? Sure, he's hit rock bottom in his career of late, but it's movies like this one that allow us to look back on the good old days and smile. I had a lot of fun revisiting the flick (it's been what, two years?); and for those who've never seen it, there's a slew of pleasant surprises in store for the Carpenter-faithful.

The location by the sea is Antonio Bay, which is somewhere in California. The film opens while the night is still young - or at least for a good few people -, and it's then that we meet our characters; Father Malone (Hal Holbrook), radio DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), Nick Castle (Tom Atkins), and Elizabeth (Jamie Lee Curtis) - a girl that Nick picks up while she's hitchhiking and forms a strong romantic bond with over the course of the film's story, which is only a day (or maybe two).

So how do all these different people connect? How does it all come together? Well, I believe there is but a simple answer and solution in regards to that question; and that is to shed some light on a local legend brought up early on in the film. It is that of the Elizabeth Dane; a ship that sank along with all its men when the locals of Antonio Bay attacked the vessel in anger. Now, it's been a century since the incident and the Bay is making a celebration out of it. It's on that day - and night - that the spirits of the dead who were aboard that sunken ship will get their revenge on all those with blood ties to their assailants. The ghostly beings shall stay hidden within a thick fog; deceiving all their victims into believing that if it cannot be seen, then it cannot hurt you. In this case, they've got it all wrong.

The fog rolls in. The household electronics are acting up. Glass shatters on random. Dogs are barking throughout the night; seemingly at nothing. And the radio DJ stays safely in her impenetrable fortress; a lighthouse. To say the least, all who live in Antonio Bay are in for the night of their lives; that is, if they can hold on to them long enough!

Yes, I just assigned a self-found cheesy 80's-esque tagline to "The Fog"; but that's perfectly fine and even somewhat fitting, given that "The Fog" is a cheesy 80's horror movie. But that's what makes it so much fun. Carpenter doesn't drift too far away from his typical style, and he tends to shy away from any real bloodshed. If he showed any of it, there would be blood indeed. But he's smarter; and his focus is on the creepiness of his idea, his story, and his atmosphere; all built up by his techniques and general stylistics as a filmmaker. This is easily one of his better works, and while it's sometimes preposterous and thoroughly simplistic, I was plenty entertained throughout. I didn't expect greatness, I just expected a good piece of entertainment; and that is what I got.

My advice is to give "The Fog" a chance; because you might just get lost in it for the hour and a half that it demands, and who knows, you might even enjoy it. There's always a chance that you will find the flaws - a simple plot, forgettable characters (who are still enjoyable to spend time with regardless), and a general sense of faltering in comparison to the great films of Carpenter - but I'd suggest not going in expecting to not enjoy yourself. One should never bring cynicism into a movie; unless you're like me and you watch plenty of movies that you know are going to be trash. Let me tell you up front; this is not trash, nor is it bad. "The Fog" is suspenseful, creepy, well-shot, and competently acted. You get what you came for; a whole lot of fog, a good amount of scares, and plenty of Carpenter to go around.

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January 14, 2012
I saw this as a kid with my mother and it was eeriely scary that it made such an impression on me. It didn't have the same effect with repeat watches, but it was still a well done movie. Nice breakdown.
More The Fog reviews
review by . June 23, 2011
Inheriting much of the cast and crew of the preceding Assault On Precinct 13 and Halloween, The Fog is probably the least of John Carpenter's early films, but it really shouldn't be overlooked. Carpenter stretched a $1 million budget pretty far and took his time establishing mood and a murky, sea-swept tension within the cramped constraints of this 89-minute cult classic.      While not as scary as Carpenter hoped that it would be, this is still a suspenseful, enormously …
review by . June 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      JOHN CARPENTER'S   THE FOG      "I choose the blue one" is what I told myself when I had seen the two different colors {green & blue} for the box of this film. Not that it made a difference; the two are exactly the same film with the same special features. In fact the absolute only difference from what I can tell is the colors, my reasoning was I like blue so blue it is. So I make my way home kinda excited because it had been …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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