I never thought there would be a movie, pre-packaged, for my enjoyment. Then, John Carpenter made The Fog.
The Fog comes two years after Carpenter made one of my favorite films of all-time and the best horror movie ever in Halloween. We have one of the great crossovers in cinema history as the movie stars Jamie Lee Curtis, who was the main protagonist of Halloween, and Tom Atkins, who went on to be Dr. Dan Challis two years later in Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
The movie centers around the town of Antonio Bay and when Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) discovers his grandfather’s diary where it is detailed that Malone’s grandfather and the other founders of the town deliberately sank a ship, killing all onboard.
After reading the diary, strange occurrences begin happening in the town, and a strange, luminescent fog rolls in, bringing the ghosts of the dead sailors along with it as they pick off the people of the town one by one.
In terms of setting and atmosphere, this film is similar to Halloween. There’s comfort you have when watching this film. You can get your popcorn, curl up with your favorite blanket and really enjoy The Fog. I appreciate films like this because it works as if you are watching visual storytelling of one of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. This movie is incredibly laidback but builds up the suspense enough to give you chills.
A majority of the film was shot on-site in Point Reyes, Calif and the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Adrienne Barbeau plays a radio show host who has to warn the town about the fog when it rolls in. Some of the best aspects of the film and its tone fall within the music played through the station. We get these smooth jazz tones that fall within the overall mellow vibe of the film. Even the scene where she’s driving on what I believe is Pacific Coast Highway, along the seacliffs looking out onto the Pacific Ocean, it’s just cozy and enjoyable to watch. There’s no rhyme or reason for why I love these scenes, but I just do. It’s toxicating.
The sound design is excellent as well. Carpenter perfected a true scare in film. He doesn’t need sound cues or anticipation. He just uses what’s around him and the natural sound to create an eerie feel. Early on in the film, Father Malone pops out of the darkness inside the church and I jumped. The use of lower-thirds and empty space in Carpenter’s shots are immaculate. No one can create a genuine scare like him.
While I love this movie, it’s not perfect in the slightest. With only a $1.1 million budget, a lot of the effects are weak and the shots of the fog rolling in from Barbeau’s perspective in the lighthouse are garbage. We are given no reason to care about the characters either. It’s just incredibly fun to see Atkins and Curtis be in a Carpenter film together. Also, shoutout to Nancy Loomis, who is also in this film. She was Annie in Halloween.
For me, this film was pre-packaged for enjoyment. It has that cozy feel Halloween has, even though it’s a horror movie. The classic Carpenter synthesizers, along with jazz music from the radio station, is excellent, and if you love an old-fashioned ghost story, you are really going to enjoy this film.
18 down, 13 to go