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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Fog

     How much do I love THE FOG, you ask? Well, let me tell you. A delicious old fashioned ghost story, THE FOG wonderfully begins with a quote by Edgar Allen Poe, then cuts to salty old sea dog John Houseman telling a ghost story to a bunch of kids huddled around a campfire on a lonely cliff overlooking the sleepy little town of Antonio Bay. It's a simple yet very effective scene, and immediately sets the tone of the film and gives us the chilling back story. The story is one hundred years ago, Antonio Bay was founded on a devilish conspiracy, which resulted in the death of many seamen.  On the anniversary of the tragedy, the ghostly victims rise up from their watery grave for a little old-fashioned revenge on the unsuspecting little town. THE FOG is drenched in eerie, old school atmosphere, and was John Carpenter and Debra Hill's follow-up to their ground-breaking and hugely influential classic, HALLOWEEN. And a damn good one too, in my opinion.

     Although Carpenter surprisingly didn't quite hit a home-run on the level of HALLOWEEN, THE FOG has slowly and surely built a loyal fan base over the years, and is now widely considered a classic of 80's horror. And that cast! Besides Jamie Lee Curtis, we get the original scream queen herself, Janet Leigh. Plus the divine Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Loomis, John Houseman, Hal Holbrook...  I would watch this bunch of actors sit around reading names from a phone book.

     THE FOG is a quiet, unassuming little thriller that doesn't rely on big-budget effects to scare you as it moves slowly but surely along, peppered with a series of well-executed scares, top-notch atmosphere, and solid tension. The film has some great production values, Carpenter's solid direction, and amazing cinematography by Dean Cundey. This is classic ghost story stuff here, kids.

     Carpenter once again offers a sumptuously eerie soundtrack which rivals the score to HALLOWEEN- it's a sadly underrated work of art. Released in the wake of FRIDAY THE 13TH and other splatter flicks, THE FOG quietly joined such intelligent supernatural chillers as THE CHANGELING and THE SHINING for a much more subdued scare. Bottom line- if you want to see a great ghost story done the old-fashioned way, you just can't go wrong with this Carpenter classic!


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