In John Carpenter’s The Fog, the town of Antonio Bay is about to celebrate its centennial anniversary. Around midnight, a group of children listen to the story of a doomed ship, the Elizabeth Dane, that sparked the town’s establishment. Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) finds an old journal, detailing a conspiracy by perpetrated by the town’s founders. A young woman hitchhikes into town. Windows break, cars honk and all sorts of objects start moving on their own all around Antonio Bay. The local late night DJ broadcasts, looking out over the water from the lighthouse. And she watches a mysterious, glowing fog roll in.
Fog is perfect tool for horror. It’s physical, yet has a mysterious quality that naturally intrigues us. It obscures the most normal places enough to make it suddenly seem spooky. Fog hides people, the good and the wicked. It hides them from finding each other, letting those lost in the element become easy prey. And it just looks great.
This fog, this beautiful glowing fog, brings something with it. It brings the some ghoulish form of the dead sailors from the Elizabeth Dane into town, looking for revenge. Shrouded by the fog, we feel like the ghosts within are very physically real. They murder and do physical damage. We never get an unobscured look at these undead, even without the fog, and that’s probably a good thing. Horror is almost always better maintained when there is some mystery to the monster.
The terror is nothing without a great cast to hold it up. Here we have Adrienne Barbeau as the DJ, reporting the whereabouts of the fog, and what’s happening to the entire town like a narrator trying to keep her cool, and sometimes losing it. There is her son, Andy (Ty MItchell), a loveable innocent kid who happens to be in the middle of it all. Then there is Nick (Tom Atkins) the truck driver and his hitchhiking new lover Elizabeth (Jamie Lee Curtis) who come to the boy’s aid. And finally, Father Malone seems to understand what the vengeful ghouls want, and may the only person who can stop them.
I believe that The Fog is a wonderful and underrated horror movie. Visually, it looks great and intriguing, which is quiet an accomplishment for an 80s film. The story is simple, with a broad range of characters to hold it up and fill it out. Best of all, the moments of horror are not campy of left to flimsy looking effects, they work and are enjoyably scary. There are even a few classic jump moments that turn and become more than a classic jump moment. The Fog is fun for any horror fan and a true modern classic.
“The celebration tonight is a travesty. We’re honoring murderers.”