THE FOG, John Carpenter (1980)
Fall season and Halloween knocking at the door have caused the need to swallow Carpenter’s classics again, and together with Cronenberg’s, I’m trying to gather all his films.
No doubt he’s one of the top masters in horror/sci-fi genres, and personally I’d include him in my top 5 of directors.
The Fog was created during his golden decade, and although wasn’t as shocking as Halloween or The Thing, nor so genuine as Escape from New York or They Live, this horror tale is equally enjoyable.
About midnight, April 21st, in Antonio Bay, in California. People from this nice fishing town by the sea are hosting the centennial of its foundation.
During the witching hours lots of weird incidents occur all along the town. Empty cars horning, TV sets switching on, glasses breaking… during that crazy hour, in the church Father Malone discovers a hidden diary written by his own grandfather. The real terrible history of the town is depicted on those pages. The disgust caused by the upcoming leper colony close to the town led by a rich man named Blake, and the seek for the gold these people were shipping, forced the founders to sink their vessel, Elisabeth Dane, by crashing it, with all the crew dying hopeless.
During the celebration night, a glowing deadly thick fog, bringing out nonhuman creatures resembling pirates, seeds panic and death over the town. Blake and his subordinates are back for revenge.
The owner of the local radio station settled at the old Lighthouse, Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), on one hand, and another neighbor, Nick Castle (Tom Atkins), on the other, will soon realize something threatening and evil comes with the weird glow, and will put all their efforts to protect the town.
After the huge success of Halloween, John Carpenter decided to continue working on some horror theme title.
The Fog wasn’t generously budgeted wither, but the director managed this wasn’t an obstacle for delivering a story in which supernatural powers were involved.
Truth is that, probably for this reason, we are not standing on front of a slasher, gore film. Executions are not super obvious and lack of blood unfortunately lessens the impact these could have caused.
Same with Blake and the foggy creatures. When I commented on Assault on Precinct 13th, I was supporting and cheering the fact that none of the gang members was highlighted. Faces weren’t important, the plague-like effect of all of them creeping and moving incredibly fast around the police station as an unnatural threaten was the point. However in this case, these weird creatures are already non human. Their terrible appearance should have been more exploited in my opinion.
One of the features of this film I like most, apparently was added after filming and editing. Carpenter didn’t find the story catchy enough and decided to add the initial scene. Kids gathering around a bonfire close to midnight, and this old fisherman, Mr. Machen, telling about the story of a clipper vessel, crashing to the rocks, due a thick fog, and a deceiving light caused by fire, and warning the kids that if such fog returns, the men at the bottom of the sea, will accompany it to Antonio Bay.
This scary tale tone provided since the very beginning, introducing the audience to the events about to happen, is simply brilliant.
I’m wondering the loyalty and boundaries among Carpenter and the cast. Many actors participate in several of his titles. You see Nancy Loomis in Assault, Halloween and The Fog, for instance, or Tom Atkins and Adrienne Barbeau.
I really love Janet Leigh and her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, working together under Carpenter’s command. Two actresses, whose roles in horror, made them legend. Excellent!
Never seen the remake released in 2005 and don’t feel like watching it. A cast billing tv series gorgeous actors and actresses, I really don’t find much appeal.
The Fog might be more innocent than Carpenter’s previous work, dealing with the unnatural is not easy and as commented, possibilities seemed to be reduced due to low budget, still, it’s a funny horror movie, perfect for a cold dark Sunday, with the lights turned off.