Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Favorite Era: The Fog (1980)

John Carpenter's The Fog is maybe the main film that really made me want to be a filmmaker.  Full of atmosphere, it's a spooky little ghost story about a small coastal town in Northern California that is beset by a mysterious fog.  Naturally, it's related to the town's past and it all comes together fairly nicely.  Needless to say, funding your city on gold stolen from a bunch of lepers you intentionally killed is the sort of thing that will come back to bite you in the ass eventually.

We got a great cast, great directing, great music and great atmosphere in one of the best horror flicks of the 80's.  Let's take a closer look.
  •  Great moody beginning with John Houseman telling the back story to a group of kids around a campfire.  It' a brilliant way to start things as you get the exposition out of the way in the first few minutes.  Carpenter has always been good at lean, efficient storytelling and this is one of his better stories.
  • I love the cast in this movie.  Hal Holbrook is great as the priest with a guilty conscience (his great grandfather was one of the town fathers); Adrienne Barbeau proves it is entirely possible to look sexy as hell dressed in casual wear, Tom Atkins and Jamie Lee Curtis are fun in their roles and there is good support from Janet Leigh as the person in charge of the town's 100th anniversary event and Nancy Loomis as her assistant.
  • During the opening credits, there is an extended sequence of spooky things going on at midnight for a few minutes that is handled quite well.  While something like this could easily come off as filler, it is shot so well that it comes off as quite eerie.
  • Back to the cast, the thing that's really cool is that this is an ensemble piece in the purest sense of the term.  Ideally, Atkins would be the male lead in any other film since he does a bit of investigating into a boat that falls victim to the ghostly fog bank that carries a bunch of vengeful ghosts, but Barbeau plays a fairly vital part and Holbrook certainly is important to the story.  Curtis is really the only one who doesn't have a large part, she's just there to scream and be menaced.  Still, any film that has both her and Adrienne Barbeau gets an easy recommendation from me.
  •  I really dig how the ghosts look here.  Designed by Rob Bottin, you never really get a good look at what they look like apart from one shot towards the end but they are spooky as hell to say nothing of just generally murderous.  Bottin is also pretty good as the lead ghost.
  • If it makes me a dork to think that the Jamie Lee Curtis character being from Pasadena is utterly cool, I've never been more okay with something in my entire life.
  • As usual, Carpenter scored the movie and it's another wonderfully creepy soundtrack.
  • The film is very well paced, both maintaining an even, casual tone but also delivering its scares and ghostly goings on with a brisk efficiency.  John Carpenter really gets the most out of the lean 89 minute running time.
  • The location is also great.  I love horror flicks set in quiet little towns, they just always seem to work for me.

 This was another gem from Embassy Home Video.  Carpenter was really hitting his stride with this one and it would continue for the rest of the decade.  The film is wonderfully spooky and even though the story is rather slight and doesn't hold up too well on close inspection, the film still manages to be a fun ride with some good acting, f/x and an awesome atmosphere.  It's a real gem.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.