Horror, Unsung Classics

The Fog (1980)

Continuing on with the Halloween films theme, I’m now going to take a look at one of my all time favourite horror films. That film is The Fog. This is one that I will stick in the DVD player when I’m in the mood for something really eerie.

This is a film that is shockingly, and very strangely, underrated in comparison with so many of the other films from horror legend John Carpenter. As far as I’m concerned this film should be up there with his classic films like Halloween and The Thing.

It seems very strange to me that this ghostly tale of revenge and horror hardly ever seems to be mentioned now. It is a very good film and more than that, it is also a very good horror film too. I consider this to be one of John Carpenter’s best screen efforts.

The Fog is so atmospheric, it’s scary and it’s very eerie. The scenes featuring the glowing fog are seriously creepy and are quite an unforgettable sight. John’s own score for the film is one of his very best, I think it adds so much to the film and is the perfect accompaniment. This is a film that sends shivers down your spine. It is also reminiscent of those ghost stories which are best read by a blazing fire on a dark night.

Photo0144The year is 1980. The film opens on a beach, with the great John Houseman playing an old sailor. The sailor is telling the spooky story of the crew of the ship, The Elizabeth Dane to a group of children, as they all sit around a blazing fire. Houseman conveys such terror, and paints such images in your mind with his words alone. This sequence really sets the tone for the horror to come.

The residents of the beautiful seaside town of Antonio Bay, California, are looking forward to a celebration event being held to mark their towns 100th anniversary. The local Priest, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) discovers a diary written by his grandfather, through which he learns the terrible truth of how their town was actually founded.

In 1880, six men who would go on to found the town killed Blake, a wealthy man with leprosy, and his crew, and then robbed his ship The Elizabeth Dane of its gold. This gold was then used to fund the building of Antonio Bay.  

Blake and his murdered crew have returned from the dead in order to hunt down six residents whose lives they can take in revenge for their own murders. This group come ashore after midnight, shrouded in a mysterious, eerie glowing fog. Strange events start happening, three sailors are killed out at sea, and then other deaths start occurring. Nick Castle (Tom Atkins)and his girlfriend Elizabeth (Jamie Lee Curtis)start to investigate and try and get to the bottom of the strange events. Who will survive? Can the undead be stopped?

This film manages to be the perfect combination of ghost story and slasher flick. The murder scenes are not overly graphic, but they come across as quite disturbing. The supernatural element makes your skin crawl, adding some real shivers to this horror tale.

I have to mention a few things I’ve picked up on . Has anyone else ever noticed these things? Twelve and six are key numbers in the story; the horror starts at midnight, there are twelve key characters in the film: Stevie, Andy, Father Malone, Nick, Elizabeth, Kathy, Sandy, Dan, Mrs. Kobritz and the three fisherman. Elizabeth tells Nick that he makes her twelfth time being picked up while hitchhiking. Stevie starts broadcasting at the radio at 6pm, there are six victims claimed by Blake.  

I also noticed that Elizabeth(Jamie Lee Curtis)has the same first name as Blake’s ship. Also, at around the 53 minute mark in the film, there is a man in glasses wearing a blue coat, this guy looks like Steven Spielberg. Does anyone know if it actually was Spielberg?

I also have a theory that is a possibility that the film is all a nightmare experienced by Andy (Ty Mitchell)after he hears the story on the beach. I’ve started to think that because the film opens with that scene, and just before that there is this quote from Edgar Allen Poe: “All that we see or seem is but a dream. A dream within a dream.” There must be a reason this was included. Could it be that this is supposed to be a nightmare after all? The film also has many moments where something suddenly happens, or changes suddenly to something scary just as nightmares have a tendency to do.

Adrienne Barbeau is excellent as Stevie, the sultry voiced DJ who gets caught up in the strange events. Stevie is a strong and resourceful woman, and Adrienne makes her one of the most memorable characters from the film.

My favourite scenes are the following. The windows mysteriously breaking on Nick’s car as he is driving. Stevie making her way down the steep steps to get to the radio station (located within a former lighthouse on top of a cliff). Blake and his men killing the fisherman. The finale in the church. Nick and Elizabeth finding the missing fishing boat. The children listening to the ghost story on the beach. Andy being rescued from the house.

The film was made on location out in Point Reyes, California. The beautiful location provides a stunning backdrop for many events in the film.

Spooky and a lot of fun, The Fog really is a film that makes for perfect viewing at this time of the year. Any other fans of this one?

 

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13 thoughts on “The Fog (1980)”

  1. Nicely done and observant. Sounds like this shivered your timbers. It’s been so many years since I’ve seen it I can barely recall. Started re-watching a few days ago, but was interrupted after the first very effective scenes. I’ll make sure to catch it anew when I can. Fog is such a neat phenomena, a natural staple for horror or just nerve-tightening in general. A few non-monster movie uses off the top of my foggy recall: Bagpipes blaring, the Highlanders stride through the New Orleans bayou mist into Charlton Heston’s–I mean, Andy Jackson’s long rifles in “The Buccaneer”; German soldier Hans Christian Blech sees the Allied fleet appear off Normandy in “The Longest Day”, the finale of “Casablanca”….plus foghorns are way cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I watched this again the other day, partly because you were so enthusiastic about it. I wasn’t as enamoured as you, but I liked it a bit more than the first time I saw it.

    In answer to your questions, I don’t think Spielberg is in it. Is the Spielberg look-a-like the guy in the morgue scene? If so then it’s not him.

    Jamie Lee Curtis is on her 13th ride, not her 12th (he jokes about being unlucky), and you only get twelve main characters if you take out Houseman. Quite a bit of extra footage was filmed after this originally wrapped though, and the prologue looks like it could be one of the extra scenes, so maybe there were originally twelve, but even so I think it’s probably a coincidence.

    The girl having the same first name as the ship does seem odd. She even says that the trouble started when she arrived in town, so it seems like there could be something in this, but what exactly I’m not sure.

    The dream thing is a possibility and I had the same thought. Barbeau says something like “As long as this isn’t all a nightmare and we wake up soundly in our beds…” The film is odd and people behave strangely. A chair moves by itself in an early scene and is then forgotten about. The truck window suddenly smashes and the occupants look shocked but they don’t really discuss it or wonder what caused it. The dead body gets up and attacks Curtis and they’re like “Oh a dead body came back to life. Whatever”(!) The babysitter is killed just as the boy is going out of the door, and it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t have heard or even seen it happen. And Holbrook acts as if some dead guys coming back for their gold from 100 years ago is just completely logical and the obvious solution (ehr, no it isn’t). The ghosts are also very full-on, with hooks and cutlasses, they are like 18th century pirates, not like people from 1880. I think the nightmare idea is interesting and the film does have a sort of dream like quality at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it’s weird how the weird things start happening when Elizabeth shows up.
      No the guy who looks like Spielberg is in the crowd scene at the speech for the towns anniversary party. He is in a blue coat, and is one of the crowd sitting down, he can be seen around the 53 minute mark of the film.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish I hadn’t deleted it now, I knew there was something I was meant to be checking! I couldn’t find any reference to him being in it though and it’s the kind of thing that I think would be mentioned somewhere.

        Like

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