Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lock your doors. Bolt your windows. Blogging about The Fog:

So I finally got around to watching John Carpenter's The Fog after finding out about it in 2011! I noticed it had taken me six years to see it after linking my recent fog themed blog post to one I wrote in 2011. In that older blog post, I mentioned seeing a trailer for The Fog. To my surprise, I said back then that the trailer looked lame. I say I'm surprised because since then I got it in my mind that I wanted to see The Fog. Who knows. Sometimes a movie can appeal to you when it didn't before. Anyway, I'm glad I gave The Fog a chance, because it ended up being a pretty good old ghost movie.

I'm going to give a short review with my thoughts on the movie, and I'll try to keep it spoiler-free. That shouldn't be too difficult since The Fog rotates around a pretty basic theme. This is a classic ghost story of shadowy figures that have come back from the grave to exact revenge.

In fact, this movie so fits that classic format that it actually starts with a man telling a ghost story to a group of children around a campfire. John Houseman plays the older, man-of-the-sea type and he's perfect for the role. You get the whole premise of why there would be ghosts laid out right away and in that dramatic, campfire manner.

This is one of those movies that has several side plots going at once. So you get to know separate characters and every few minutes you see what they're going through. All the plots relate to events that are happening at the same time.

This movie was made in 1979 and you can see it. There are phones with cords, actual records being played, and radio is a big deal. Also there are situations that while not impossible today, just wouldn't be that common. Like the little boy wandering around on the beach by himself or the casual hitchhiking.

The Fog isn't predictable as far as who the ghosts go after. Well, they're going after everyone, but I mean who they manage to get. Several of the victims were people I liked, while a few annoying characters got through the movie just fine. So it was seemingly random enough in that way.

The Fog isn't going to keep you up at night or give you nightmares, but it's a good, spooky film. John Carpenter says on the commentary that it isn't all that scary by today's standards, but he got lots of letters back in the day telling him not to make scary movies like this. He also mentions that he was asked to make the movie more scary after a preview screening, so pretty much all the jump scares or ghost attacks were added in last minute. I think that might lend to why some of them don't make sense, but that's OK.

The Fog is bizarrely enough Rated R. I have no idea why! There's no drugs, sex, swearing, or anything R-worthy. What violence is there is mostly done in silhouette form in the fog. So I can only guess it was Rated R for being scary? (Scary for its day, in someone's opinion)

I just checked and The Exorcist came out in 1973. That was a million times more scary than this! So, it's not like people didn't know what scary was in the 70s. I don't know... The R Rating is as mysterious as this fog.

Anyway, I do recommend The Fog. It has that classic ghost story feel, and some pretty cool special effects for back in the day. I appreciate those special effects, because I know everything took a lot more work and creative thinking before computers. I watched on the DVD's special features how people were walking around on the set with fog machines, shooting this stuff around. And they had lots of backlit dry ice going, drifting around black plastic. The plastic looked like a landscape. It works!

There are some big names in this movie. Jamie Lee Curtis, her mother Janet Leigh, Adrienne Barbeau, and Hal Halbrook. Jamie Lee Curtis is the casual hitchhiker who has the bad luck of hitchhiking through this town. Although, she does get a boyfriend instantly. So I guess her luck isn't 100% bad.

Janet Leigh is some sort of public official in town. Funny enough in the commentary, they couldn't seem to remember if she was the town mayor or a real estate agent! But she's important enough to be giving a speech for the town's 100th anniversary.

Adrienne Barbeau has the cool looking job of being a radio disc jockey for the night owls. Her show broadcasts from a lighthouse that's in a very remote location. She says groovy things like "Ahoy mateys" in her sultry radio voice.

As I say, it looks like a cool job in a cool location, except that it happens to be right where the fog is rolling in. This is the light house, which as Adrienne says in the commentary had 365 stairs leading down to it or something like that. She couldn't remember, but there were a lot. Realistically, if you were out there alone at night, it probably would be scary.

Hal Halbrook plays Father Malone. He did well in his role. I was hanging on everything he said. If I had to give an award for best acting in The Fog, it would go to him.

It turns out there were several trailers and teaser trailers for The Fog. Some of them are not that great, so that might be why I thought it looked lame in 2011. But this one I really like:

Do any of you remember seeing The Fog? I also saw that there was a remake in 2005. I'm not sure if I want to see it since Horror remakes are usually not my thing. I can't think of one good one offhand! I don't mean sequels, but those movies where 30 years later someone redoes it. I just watched a trailer for the 2005 movie, and nope, I'm still not feelin' it.

I'm open to any other classic old ghost movie suggestions you have!


  1. You have GOT to be kidding? You've never seen The Fog until now? Boy have you been missing a treat. I love John Carpenter and The Fog is part of my dvd collection. I tried to watch the remake, got about half an hour into it and gave up in disgust. Are you a fan of other John Carpenter movies? I'm assuming you are.


    1. Alison ~ Haha! Nope, not kidding. Yeah, it only took me six years after hearing about "The Fog" to see it. :) Better late than never! I'm guessing your DVD has the commentary on it? I listened to that commentary yesterday and learned a bit. It was fun listening to John Carpenter and Debra Hill talking. You can tell they were good friends.

      Oh, after watching the trailer for the 2005 remake, I had no interest in seeing it! It looked like an action-packed, explosion-filled movie. And that seemed weird as a remake of a more subtle ghost story. Plus, it seemed unlikely that the ghosts in this story would be doing what I saw in the trailer. Pushing a car into the water or whatever.

      I am a John Carpenter fan! During my high school years, a friend and I decided to watch the whole series of "Halloween". We fit that viewing into one summer. The movies start to blend into one another a bit, but they're overall great! And I have a sort of personal connection, living in a place that looks an awful lot like Haddonfield. I am in a state right next to Illinois, after all.

      Which John Carpenter movie is your favorite?