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Friday, July 21, 2023

The Fog 1980 * 1/2 Stars


1980's The Fog is nowhere to be found in the upper echelon of John Carpenter's canon. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. All you gotta do is watch the documentary (The Making of The Fog, duh). In it, Carpenter explains that a rough cut of his film wasn't up to snuff, wasn't um scary. He had to jazz it up with you know, more scares. You can tell the distress. "Fog" is sort of patchwork stuff from one of my all-time favorite directors. He would later go on to victory with three solid outings (Escape from New York, Starman, and Big Trouble in Little China).

So OK, The Fog with its brief running time doesn't really frighten you, doesn't shatter you. I suppose its one true attribute is that it might have been the inspiration for 1982's creepier, Creepshow (just ask Tom Atkins, Hal Holbrook, and Adrienne Barbeau). The evil element of The Fog is ghosts that come out of a glowing mist that sweeps Northern California. Sigh. These ghosts are faceless and shapeless and almost cookie-cutter. I suppose they're characters in the flick but what they lack is obviously character development. They don't talk but they do in fact kill and well, they're rarely seen (once in the first act and once in the final act).

What's disappointing about The Fog is that its sinister premise is there for the taking. I mean it's the most John Carpenter that has ever been John Carpenter-ed. His trademarks are all over this thing. You get the eerie, brilliant score (by Johnny boy), the synth jump scares, and Carpenter's signature, gleaming blues hues. For some reason however, it all just doesn't interlock in a nightmarish sort of way. Added to that, John's buddies from '78s Halloween just aren't likable this time around (Jamie Lee Curtis, especially Nancy Loomis, and Charles Cyphers). They come off as paperweight denizens just trying to avoid the hours of darkness slaughter.

Getting back to The Fog's docu, Carpenter quotes the camera by saying, "so we sat down and realized we have to go back to work on this". Good intentions on the second effort John but after viewing The Fog, I was left a little "benumbed".

Written by Jesse Burleson

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