Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

THE FOG (1980)

THE FOG (1980). Director: John Carpenter.

As the California coastal town of Antonia Bay prepares for its centennial, most of the town's citizens are unaware of its truly tragic origin. The town's founders, learning that a wealthy man was planning to build a leper colony near the town, deliberately sank the schooner that the lepers were sailing on and took the wealthy man's gold for themselves. Now it's one hundred years later and the ghosts of the lepers want revenge. Noticing the glowing fog at sea, along with some other strange occurrences, are several townspeople, including: Stevie (Adrienne Barbeau), who runs the local radio station out of a lighthouse; hitchhiker Elizabeth (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the fisherman, Nick (Tom Atkins), who gives her a lift; the tippling Father Malone (Hal Holbook), whose grandfather was one of the town's founders; and Mrs. Williams (Janet Leigh), who tries to stay in charge of the ceremonies even as she deals with the fact that her husband is missing.

Adrienne Barbeau
This was the second theatrical film after Halloween for both director Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis, who has a supporting part in this. I was not all that impressed with The Fog when it was released, and it hasn't grown on me, although it is by no means a terrible picture, especially when compared to some of the horror schlock released at the same time. The main problem with the film is its too-deliberate pacing, which should at least give the movie time to develop its characters but doesn't. The main premise is quite good, but Carpenter, who co-scripted, just doesn't do enough with it, and viewers often get the impression that the movie is over just when it starts to get really interesting -- although to be fair there are some eerie sequences and a couple of startling moments. It also has some mood and atmosphere, and Dean Cundey's cinematography is notable. The picture cries out for a much better score than the one that composer Carpenter has provided, however. Janet Leigh gives a very obvious performance, but Barbeau [Two Evil Eyes] is better, along with most of the other cast members. Barbeau and John Carpenter were married at the time; their marriage lasted five years. I found it hard to believe that Barbeau's character would stay at the radio station instead of going to her little boy's rescue. Remade in 2005.

Verdict: If you like movies with creepy things in the fog, watch The Crawling Eye instead. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

I must agree with you despite the stellar cast, this is not very effective. I DO like The Mist years later, starring Thomas Jane and Marsha Gay Harden, which is not a Carpenter pic. And whatever became of Carpenter's ex and Maude's daughter Adrienne Barneau? I think of her every time I play the original Broadway cast recording of Grease; she was also the first Rizzo...

William said...

I just ordered Barbeau's memoir from the library, so in a few days I can find out just what she's been up to. She was always a saucy and effective actress -- particularly good as the shrew in "Creepshow." I had always thought that this movie might have influenced King's "Mist" in some way. I recall that had its moments.