THE FOG. (1980) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

JOHN CARPENTER’S THE FOG. (1980) DIRECTED BY JOHN CARPENTER. WRITTEN BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. ORIGINAL MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER.
STARRING ADRIENNE BARBEAU, JAMIE LEE CURTIS, JANET LEIGH, TOMMY ATKINS, JOHN HOUSEMAN, NANCY LOOMIS AND HAL HOLBROOK.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Who is that…?’

‘Did you see his eyes…?’

‘Blake, I have your gold…!’

‘We’re honouring murderers…’

‘Why not six, Blake? Why not six…?’

‘Something came out of the fog tonight…’
 
The picturesque little Californian seaside town of Antonio Bay is in serious trouble in this fantastic film by horror icon John Carpenter. The inhabitants of the town are all getting ready to celebrate their centenary, with scream queen Janet PSYCHO Leigh roped in to organise the festivities. She plays Kathy Williams, council-woman and wife of a local fisherman, and she looks smashing in her knee-length red leather boots with her blonde coiffure.

She’s being assisted in her worthy endeavours, by the way, by Nancy Loomis, the woman who played Annie, the annoying teenage babysitter from HALLOWEEN. ‘Sandy, you have a way of saying yes, ma’am that sounds exactly like screw you…!’ To which Sandy immediately replies, ‘Yes, ma’am…!’

But, anyway, a strange glowing fog is rolling in from the sea, and it’s no normal fog, as you might have guessed by the word ‘glowing.’ Fog doesn’t normally glow, does it? Darn tootin’ it doesn’t. Something tells us that the centenary celebrations and the glorification of the town’s founding fathers may not pass off without incident…

Even worse than the fog itself, which is quite disturbing enough on its own, is what it contains. The ghosts of long-dead mariners are in it, see? And they’re coming back to Antonio Bay after a hundred years of being deceased to wreak a deadly revenge on the townspeople for wrongs committed against them by the town’s founding fathers. Well, I nevah…!

They’re being reasonable enough in their quest for a terrible vengeance, though, these spectres. They’re not going on a murderous rampage willy-nilly. They’ll only be slaughtering six people, because that’s how many people dissed ’em a hundred years ago tonight. Aw. It’s nice when ghosts can count. It should encourage any young folks watching the film to stick with their math…

Seriously, though, I had a horrible dream recently about a plague ship or a leper ship that desperately tried to reach land, reach some country where there would be people who could help the sick, suffering and dying people on board. But when they did eventually reach what they called ‘civilisation,’ the so-called ‘civilised’ people were so appalled at the thought of being in close proximity to lepers or plague victims that they chose to burn the ship’s still-living inhabitants to death and then scuttle the ship rather than risk their own skins. I woke up frozen in fear.

What does this all have to do with Antonio Bay? Well, I won’t give the whole plot away, but what happened to poor Blake and his men is just horrible. I don’t blame them for wanting revenge, although it’s awfully hard on people like poor Mrs. Kobritz and little Andy Wayne, the three mariners aboard the Sea Grass and the poor old weatherman who are, one would imagine, completely innocent of any wrongdoing themselves.

From the moment the town starts going all MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE at the start of the movie because of the proximity of the mariners, you know you’re going to be watching something special. The atmosphere is positively electric with a terrifying anticipation right from the get-go.

We know that something evil and dangerous is coming and the tension never lets up the whole way through. I think it’s honestly the most fun I’ve ever had being scared in my whole life. I was breathless with excitement while watching it and, even though I was spooked out of my mind, I wouldn’t have turned my face away for anything in the world. Mind you, when I watched it first at about age sixteen, it scared me so much I actually wet my bed that night…!

The cuddly Hal Holbrook, with a fine head of hair on him and a luxuriant moustache to match, does a top job of playing Father Malone. As a direct descendant of one of The Guilty Six, he seems to be the townsperson with the most to fear from the deadly fog. An alcoholic he may be, but he’s grimly determined to make reparations to Blake and his crew if he can at all.

It’s so nice to see Janet Leigh and her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, acting in the same film, even though they don’t have much to do with each other in it. Certainly Ms. Leigh doesn’t put her naughty hitch-hiker of a daughter over her knee and paddle her behind raw for sleeping with a strange guy who gives her a lift in his truck, and the horny pair don’t even ask each others’ names till after all the sex…!

Tsk, tsk. Jamie Lee, you brazen hussy…! A good spanking is most definitely in order, I fear. The strange guy in question, Nick Castle, is played by actor Tom Atkins, and he gets his kit off in HALLOWEEN 3 as well, the big horny stud.
 
The heroine of the film is, of course, the tousle-haired, husky-voiced Adrienne Barbeau, who plays the sultry but feisty disc jockey Stevie Wayne. Up in her lonely lighthouse studio she warns the townspeople about the approach of the fog and keeps ’em up to date as to its whereabouts.

Even though she knows that her own little boy Andy and his babysitter, the elderly Mrs. Kobritz, are directly in the line of fire of the fog, she won’t leave her post in the lighthouse because of the urgent need to warn everyone in town about the killer fog.

It’s kind of hard not to giggle when she’s telling everyone that the fog is heading up this street and down that avenue and up this hill and over that bridge, etc. One can almost imagine the fog stopping at various pedestrian lights and waiting impatiently for the lights to change before continuing on its rampage, like something out of THE SIMPSONS. Anyway, this lady Stevie Wayne has guts and balls to spare, and the town of Antonio Bay has a lot to thank her for. ‘Look for the fog…’

The loud banging on the various doors is terrifying. So too is the scene on the SEA GRASS when the lads look up and see the sails of a boat from a century ago literally towering over them. A ghost story that has its roots in the sea is scarier, in a way, than some land-based ones.

This film has so much atmosphere and authenticity, it puts some of the more modern stuff to shame. And it’s so simple too, in the sense that it’s not complicated by needless side-plots or trickery or other such nonsense. It relies on the story itself and the superb musical score to keep the audience hooked.

The music, written by the legendary horror director himself, is fantastic. When the fog is heading for the showdown in the old church, the pounding soundtrack ratchets up the fear factor something fierce. And at other times, the music is beautifully eerie and reminds us that John Carpenter also wrote the theme music for his other famous horror film, HALLOWEEN.

Of all the horror films I’ve ever seen in my life, I think THE FOG has to be the one that uses music the most effectively to create a feeling of ever-mounting terror and dread. The whole movie gets a ten out of ten in every possible way.

I think it might even be John Carpenter’s best film, but no doubt fans of his other movies like THE THING and the afore-mentioned HALLOWEEN might fight me on that one. One thing I’m sure we’re all agreed on. John Carpenter is the king of horror directing. All hail the King…!     

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

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