John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) Short Review (Rated R)
The Fog doesn’t always make sense and has some not intentionally funny moments, but overall is a really fun ghost story that did scare the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid. John Carpenter was one of the better genre directors of the 70s and 80s. This isn’t his best work to be sure, but it’s certainly enjoyable for most horror fans. It’s fairly graphic in its depictions of violence (but there’s not a lot of blood shown). Carpenter seemed to have some fun in this going after archetypes that normally wouldn’t have been victims. The ghosts in the fog do deliver on being creepy. The visuals still rank among my favorites in the horror genre. Nothing beats slow moving vengeful dead guys creeping around in the dark with nasty weapons. Carpenter never gives a great look at them, so it lets your own imagination fill in the blanks.
The story is a simple one; wronged sailors come back from the dead 100 years after their demise to seek vengeance on an unsuspecting town that was was built on a blood debt. That’s pretty much it. There aren’t a lot of subplots to clutter things. The fog rolls ashore and everyone quickly realizes that there’s something extremely malevolent lurking inside.
The whole film is framed/set up rather well by the late John Houseman who appropriately relates the town’s legend with kids around a campfire on the eve of the 100th anniversary. The Fog features John Carpenter regulars like Adrenne Barbeau, Tom Atkins and of course, maybe the best pound for pound scream queen of all time Jamie Lee Curtis. If that’s not enough iconic Psycho actress (and Curtis’ mom) Janet Leigh plays a significant role. More than anything else, The Fog has great atmosphere (aided by the driving soundtrack) and in horror movies that goes a long way in overlooking the flaws. This one’s a keeper for horror fans. Just don’t watch the remake.