Strange things begin to occurs as a tiny California coastal town prepares to commemorate its centenary. Inanimate objects spring eerily to life; Rev. Malone stumbles upon a dark secret about the town's founding; radio announcer Stevie witnesses a mystical fire; and hitchhiker Elizabeth discovers the mutilated corpse of a fisherman. Then a mysterious iridescent fog descends upon the village, and more people start to die.
00:00: 21st April, 1980. The Fog is directed by John Carpenter who also co-writes the screenplay with Debra Hill. It stars Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook, Jamie Lee Curtis and Nancy Loomis. Carpenter also scores the music and cinematography is by Dean Cundey. The Californian fishing town of Antonio Bay is preparing to celebrate its 100 year anniversary. As the clock ticks past midnight strange events start to occur around the town, it seems that the town has a secret and that secret is back to make a point... Not as praised as Halloween and The Thing from John Carpenter's early horror output, The Fog sees the director tackle the ghost story premise. For many who lapped it up back when the 80s began, it still enthrals and holds in its eerie vice like grip, for others in this desensitised age of gore and cgi overkill, it proves to be a film unable to justify the love poured on it by the fans. Which is a shame. Being able to appreciate the craft of John Carpenter back in 1980 certainly helps to avert some harsh criticisms thrown its way, because Carpenter has achieved, pound for pound, a better ghost story on a fraction of the budget afforded big Hollywood genre productions that have been made since. That's not to say it's perfect, for it's not, Carpenter himself has never been wholly satisfied with the final film, this even after re-shooting a third of the film after originally making a picture reliant on suggestion over presence, but with some smoke machines, a synthesiser, a game cast and a spooky revenge story on the page, he's made a sub-genre classic. Carpenter has somehow managed to blend old fashioned ghostly goings on within a modern setting, that of a fishing town that proves perfect once the sun goes down and the town tries to sleep. You can practically smell the salt in the sea, such is the knack of the director for setting the mood. Then with minimalistic panache, the director marries up fog with synth beats to create maximum dread, and then he teases, perfectly, by only letting us glimpse his ghosts as dark figurines, making us fill in the blanks as to what they look like, where armed with our imagination they prove to be more scary than some CGI enhanced entity created in the blockbuster age. The killings that follow carry a high gruesome factor, and we don't need (or get) buckets of blood for them to impact, and the suspense is jacked up so much in the final quarter it proves to be edge of the seat stuff as the spring finally uncoils. Filmed in widescreen to give off a higher end production value, which works, Carpenter surrounds himself with familiar folk and inserts in jokes and homages that also keep the film grounded and a mile away from Hollywood excess. From character names to Hitchcock stars and references (Bodega Bay anyone?), the pic feels exactly what it is, a film made with love; Carpenter even cameos at the start of the film and it is a world away from the smugness of a Shyamalan. Yes there are problems, Curtis and Atkins are strangers who meet and in the blink of an eye they are in bed together, which looks to be a bad edit, while the gathering of principal characters in one place for the finale is a bit of a contrivance. Yet these are minor irritants, because The Fog is a film that once loved will always stay loved. In 78 Carpenter plotted the course for the slasher formula to follow, in 1980 he helped realign (see also Peter Medak's The Changeling) the good ship ghost story that was on rocky waters. Low budget creepy excellence. 9/10