Monday, October 28, 2013


I saw John Carpenter's THE FOG (1980) when it was first released. The film played in Austin at the old (and not missed)  Northcross Six which was one of the worst movie theaters in town for a long time. The poster above is somewhat misleading as it depicts "scream queen" Jamie Lee Curtis as the star of the film when in reality, she's part of an ensemble cast that includes Adrienne Barbeau (Carpenter's wife), Hal Holbrook, John Houseman (for about two minutes of screen time) and Curtis's real-life mother, Janet Leigh.

I thought at the time that THE FOG was one of the best E.C. Comics influenced films I'd ever seen. I watched the film again this afternoon and that assessment still holds up. THE FOG was Carpenter's fourth film as a director, following DARK STAR (1974), ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976),  and the blockbuster, genre-defining HALLOWEEN (1978). THE FOG is a simple, classic ghost story involving the murderous spirits of dead sailors who come back to exact their revenge on the town that killed them one-hundred years earlier.

 It's amazing what Carpenter is able to achieve with fog machines and well placed lights. The ghosts are kept to the shadows and appear mostly as sinister silhouettes with glowing red eyes. As I said, if you've ever read an E.C. horror comic book, you're familiar with the trope of rotting corpses returned from the dead to punish their killers.

The cast is good, the location photography is lovely and Carpenter's direction is assured. THE FOG isn't a great film and it's not Carpenter's best work but it's a very good, solid little piece of genre film making that I enjoyed watching this afternoon just as much as I did thirty-three years ago.

By the way, I had the honor of meeting Janet Leigh at a monster movie convention in Washington, D.C. in 2000. I bought a copy of her book about the making of PSYCHO and had her sign it for me. She was an incredibly petite but extremely gracious lady and it was a genuine thrill to meet her.

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