Friday, October 03, 2008

The Fog


(1980) ***1/2

This classic from John Carpenter is a notch below his true masterpieces, but it's still a really good and atmospheric ghost story. A town on the north coast of California has mysterious and tragic past involving a shipwreck 100 years ago. A strange glowing fog rolls into town, and zombie pirates keep lunging out of the mist to skewer people.

The biggest strength of the movie is the cinematography—the mix of shadows and mist create a great spooky sense of place in the tiny coastal town. You almost feel like it could be the coast of Maine, it feels so desolate. The cast is also very strong, with a great cameo in the prologue by John Houseman (telling a ghost story to some kids at a camp fire), Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Hal Holbrook.

The only bummer here is that the cast isn't given as much to work with as I'd have liked. At only 89 minutes, and with much of that time spent on setting tone and mood with scenery shots, there's very little chance for character development. That's too bad—I think this could have been bumped up into the ranks of Carpenter's best films if he stretched it to 2 hours. The climactic battle inside an old church, in particular, feels rushed and unsatisfying.

11 comments:

Octopunk said...

You're more generous to this movie than I would be. Pirate ghosts just aren't that scary, and isn't the movie's entire body count revealed early? I know someone finds a plank or something with the creepy "six will die" message, but in a horror movie that's good news. "Only six will die."

50PageMcGee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
50PageMcGee said...

I remember seeing the ads for it when I was a kid. I liked the reliance on black and blue in the color scheme and thought, "[shiver] whatever could be in that fog?"

I didn't actually see it until shortly after college. I don't remember it very well and I certainly don't remember being impressed by it. Since that time I've heard a few people defend it, so I'll check it out again one day.

But I do remember going to a party right around the time I saw it and complaining about how all that suspense that had been building in my head about what might have been in the fog had been dashed.

"Ghost pirates?" I exclaimed. "My whole life I'd been romanticizing about what might hiding in the fog and it's ghost pirates?"

My friend Ben quipped, "Where else would ghost pirates hide?"

Catfreeek said...

I was thinking the exact same thing Octo. Perhaps the extra half star is for Adrienne Barbeau's mammoth boobies, I always thought they should get their own cast credit at the end of a film.

AC said...

hi-larious idea catfreeek!

miko564 said...

Damn, I just noticed Landshark didn't even mention Adrienne Barbeau or her boobs. This was a time before boob-jobs man, how could you not even mention them? They were bigger than the lighthouse.

Landshark said...

Damn, I totally made a mental note while watching to make sure to remark in my review that the fog itself was a lot creepier than the pirate zombies that popped out from time to time.

As for boobs, did I have an edited version? I saw no boobs!

Unless I dozed off last night while watching it and feeding Ian a bottle at 1am. (Had to stop and finish it this afternoon)

Octopunk said...

No actual topless, but Adrienne Barbeau doesn't need to go there.

Whirlygirl said...

I don't even care about boobs, but you've all got me interested in checking them out.

DCD said...

They really are magnificent.

desroc2 said...

I agree on the boobs...check swamp thing or even escape from new york...I did like the first hour or so...but it all kinda seemed to get thrown together when it could have been great