Protect yourself, your family and your community from zombies...
bullet more
Take steps to prevent the coming zombie apocalypse...
bullet more
Keep your zombies unhealthy and deanimated with this handy tool...
bullet more

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Fog

I've never seen The Fog except in snippets on television. My wife, on the other hand, saw it at a Girl Scout movie night, which is either a cruel trick or a hilarious joke, depending on you perspective. Certainly, the movie scared the heck out of the poor girls watching it and my wife remembers it vividly.

Anyway, this gave the movie something of a reputation at our house that made it required viewing. With the release of the awful remake, I decided it was time for me to bone up on a little chunk of cinema history by John Carpenter, master of action horror.

The movie is essentially a ghost story: settlers of a coastal town led a ship full of lepers to their deaths, stole their gold, and went on to prosper. On the eve of the hundred-year celebration, six souls will be claimed in vengeance.

There are several protagonists in this film: Stevie Wayne (the smoky-voiced Adrienne Barbeau) the radio DJ, Kathy Williams (Janet Leigh) as the mayor, Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis) the loose hitchhiker, and Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) as the boozy priest. Malone discovers a diary that details the pending doom about to befall the town. Wayne, who runs her radio station from a lighthouse, is uniquely positioned to use the power of 80s technology to track the fog. Williams frets over the loss of her husband at sea and bravely leads the candlelight vigil on the eve of the ceremony despite the town losing power. And finally Solley...well Solley sleeps around and gets scared a lot.

The Fog is hardly perfect. It's obvious Curtis' character exists as a box office draw. She has nothing to do but tag along. There's at least one scene where the fog looks like a kid's chalk drawing being dragged across a piece of celluloid. And viewed abstractly, there's something hilarious about zombies dressed in pirate garb who are polite enough to knock on the door rather than breaking into your house with outstretched hands, Romero-style.

And yet The Fog is one scary movie. John Carpenter's score, while reminiscent of Halloween, is scary in its own right. Wayne's helplessness and terror, as she shifts from sultry on-air voice to a mother terrified for her son, is palpable. And the glowing fog, when the special effects are up to snuff, is truly terrifying. Carpenter knows when to show his zombies and when not to show them, and it's a credit to his nascent (at the time) moviemaking skills that even when the zombies show up, they're scary enough that the glowing red eyes of the lead zombie burn in your memory long after the movie has faded.

There are also a variety of nods to Lovecraft throughout the film, including Machen, Whateley, and Arkham, which just goes to show that Carpenter actually knew his horror roots. The special features are illuminating as well, explaining the moviemaking process Carpenter went through as well as the reshoots. I'm pleased to report the movie is better for it.

Years later, when my wife saw this movie, she was still creeped out by it. But she's comforted by the knowledge that when the zombies come in the least they'll knock first.



Post a Comment

<< Home