JOHN CARPENTER’S THE FOG. 1980. DIRECTED BY JOHN CARPENTER. WRITTEN BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. ORIGINAL MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER. STARRING ADRIENNE BARBEAU, JAMIE LEE CURTIS, JANET LEIGH, TOMMY ATKINS, JOHN HOUSEMAN, NANCY LOOMIS AND HAL HOLBROOK. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
The picturesque little seaside town of Antonio Bay is in serious trouble in this film by horror icon John Carpenter. The inhabitants of the Californian town are all getting ready to celebrate their centenary, with scream queen Janet PSYCHO Leigh roped in to organise the festivities. She’s being assisted in her worthy endeavours, by the way, by the woman who played Annie, the annoying teenage babysitter from HALLOWEEN. But a strange glowing fog is rolling in from the sea, and it’s no normal fog, as you might have guessed by the word ‘glowing.’ Fog doesn’t normally glow, does it? Darn tootin’ it doesn’t. Something tells us that the centenary celebrations may not pass off without incident…
Even worse than the fog, which is quite disturbing enough in itself, is what it contains. The ghosts of long-dead mariners are in it, see? And they’re coming back to Antonio Bay after a hundred years of being deceased to wreak a deadly revenge on the townspeople for wrongs committed against them by the town’s founding fathers. Well, I nevah…!
They’re being reasonable enough in their quest for a terrible vengeance, though, these spectres. They’re not going on a murderous rampage willy-nilly. They’ll only be slaughtering six people, because that’s how many people dissed ’em a hundred years ago tonight. Aw. It’s nice when ghosts can count. It should encourage any young folks watching the film to stick with their math…
From the moment the town starts going all MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE at the start of the movie because of the proximity of the mariners, we know we’re going to be watching something special. The atmosphere is positively electric with anticipation right from the get-go. We know that something evil and dangerous is coming and the tension never lets up the whole way through. I think it’s honestly the most fun I’ve ever had being scared in my whole life. I was breathless with excitement while watching it and, even though I was spooked out of my mind, I wouldn’t have turned my face away for anything in the world.
The cuddly Hal Holbrook, with a fine head of dark hair on him and a luxuriant moustache to watch, does a top job of playing Father Malone. As a direct descendant of one of The Guilty Six, he seems to be the townsperson with the most to fear from the deadly fog. It’s so nice to see Janet Leigh and her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, acting in the same film, even though they don’t have much to do with each other in it. Certainly Ms. Leigh doesn’t put her naughty hitch-hiker of a daughter over her knee and paddle her behind raw for sleeping with a strange guy who gives her a lift in his truck, and the horny pair don’t even ask each others’ names till after all the sex…! Tsk, tsk. Jamie Lee, you brazen hussy…! A good spanking is most definitely in order, I fear.
The heroine of the film is, of course, the tousle-haired, husky-voiced Adrienne Barbeau, who plays disc jockey Stevie Wayne. Up in her lonely lighthouse studio she warns the townspeople about the approach of the fog and keeps ’em up to date as to its whereabouts. It’s kind of hard not to giggle when she’s telling everyone that the fog is heading up this street and down that avenue and up this hill and over that bridge, etc. One can almost imagine the fog stopping at various pedestrian lights and waiting impatiently for the lights to change before continuing on its rampage, like something out of THE SIMPSONS. Anyway, this lady Stevie Wayne has guts and balls to spare, and the town of Antonio Bay has a lot to thank her for.
The loud knocking on the various doors with hooks and such-like is terrifying. So too is the scene on the SEA GRASS when the lads look up and see the sails of a boat from a century ago literally towering over them. This film has so much atmosphere and authenticity, it puts some of the more modern stuff to shame. And it’s so simple too, in the sense that it’s not complicated by needless side-plots or trickery or other such nonsense. It relies on the story itself and the superb musical score to keep the audience hooked.
The music, written by the legendary horror director himself, is fantastic. When the fog is heading for the showdown in the old church, the pounding soundtrack ratchets up the fear factor something fierce. And at other times, the music is beautifully eerie and reminds us that John Carpenter also wrote the theme music for his other famous horror film, HALLOWEEN. Of all the horror films I’ve ever seen in my life, I think THE FOG has to be the one that uses music the most effectively to create a delicious feeling of ever-mounting terror and dread.
The whole movie gets a ten out of ten in every way. I think it might even be John Carpenter’s best film, but no doubt fans of his other movies like THE THING and the afore-mentioned HALLOWEEN might fight me on that one. One thing I’m sure we’re all agreed on. John Carpenter is the king of horror directing. All hail the King…!
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY