I’m surprised there aren’t more horror movies using a fog setting. Next to plain old darkness fog is ideal to create unsettling scenes with a gloomy atmosphere. Like in the dark you have no clear vision upping the tension level. Combine the darkness with the fog and you have even worse. Such is evident in this little known classic horror movie made in 1980, called The Fog and directed by John Carpenter who specializes in low budget horror/action movies that have a wide appeal. Using a similar theme as the more recent The Mist this movie shows that you don’t need state of the art CGI to create some convincing scary fog effects.
OK, so maybe that’s not entirely true and the fact that the fog is in some cases clearly generated by smoke machines really show that this is a movie that is over 30 years old, but that’s also part of the charm I think.
The Fog is about the small fishing town, built upon the grave of a leper colony one hundred years ago. Apparently at that time they were not aware it isn’t smart to build upon burial grounds. Just when the town is celebrating its 100th anniversary a mysterious fog enters the town and in the fog are undead-like creatures dressed up as sailors/pirates killing the townspeople.
The Fog follows a couple of people. The town’s radio host Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau) is a single mom and has a radio station in an abandoned lighthouse and her son, hitcher with a thing for older men Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis), older man Tom Atkins. Then there Jamie Lee’s mother Janet Leigh as the person in charge for the festivities and Hal Holbrook as the village priest who discovers what really happened a hundred years ago when the town was built.
These are the core characters of the movie and sadly they feel like the only characters in the movie. Despite supporting characters are there the village doesn’t really feel like its inhabited. What surprises me more is that despite the small core-cast we never get to really know any of these characters. We know what they do but that is about it. None of the characters really evolve during the course of the movie and the movie has a bit of a hard time deciding who is the leading lady; radio mom or hitchhiking slut and her older catch. Both get separate story-lines and actually never meet if I remember correctly. In the end I just didn’t really care about these people because I never got to know them.
But it’s not all bad though. Even though the characters are rather shallow there is enough to enjoy here. The Fog scenes have a creepy vibe and there are some genuine scares here and there that even had me jumping off my seat. Carpenter has incorporated some nifty tricks that really do what they’re supposed to. The first kill by a Fog-creature for instance with the light going on and off and seeing the demon slowly come closer to it’s potential victim is nerve wrecking.
I also loved the music in the music. never heard it before and while not as classic as the Halloween theme John Carpenter has created some eerie but very cool tunes. It really helped the movie and gave the scenes an extra creepy vibe.
The Fog isn’t a perfect movie but it still is an enjoyable one after more than 30 years. The Fog effects might not be as good as The Mist but it is a fun little horror movie.