Thursday, October 25, 2012

There's Something In the Fog!

Captain Blake and Company
To those expressed concern and well-wishes over my recent bout with a stomach virus: Thank You! 

Any way, back to the Shocktober subject at hand.

Director John Carpenter followed up his massive Slasher hit Halloween with a more traditional horror movie in 1980's The Fog

The sleepy northern California town of Antonio Bay is about to celebrate it's Centennial when a series of strange events occur. Lights go out; gas stations pump themselves and all the town's payphones (remember them?) ring at once. Mr, Machen (John Houseman) tells a spooky tale at the beach, where young Andy finds a piece of driftwood with the word "DANE" carved into it. Meanwhile, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) discovers the journal of his great-grandfather in a crumbling section of his church. A heavy fog rolls in and three members of a small fishing crew are killed.

Drifter Nick Castle (Tom Atkins in a role that's nod to actor who played 'The Shape' in Halloween) picks up hitchhiker Elizabeth (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is headed home to Antonio Bay where her mother (Janet Leigh) is heading up the Centennial Celebration. Nick's headlights and radio start to fail and his truck's windows shatter, inexplicably. The next day, Andy brings the piece of driftwood to his mother, local DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau). Stevie takes it to the lighthouse from which she broadcasts, only to find it seeping water onto her tapedeck and bursting into flames, but not before a mysterious voice intones "Six must die." Once she extinguishes the flames, the wood once again reads "DANE."

As the celebration moves forward, Nick and Elizabeth learn that her mother's husband was among the fisherman killed the night before. Kathy (Leigh) and her assistant visit Malone to ask him to deliver the benediction at the celebration, but Malone reads from the journal which tells the tale of a group of lepers aboard the ELIZABETH DANE, who wanted to establish a colony at Antonio Bay but whose ship was deliberately sunk by Malone's great-grandfather. Not wanting to hear such a horrible tale, the women continue their plans for the celebration. That night, the fog moves in and Stevie talks to her Weather Service pal Dan, listening in as the ghosts of the DANE kill him. As the fog continues to permeate the town, Stevie begs people to help save Andy. His babysitter, Mrs. Kobritz, is killed but Andy is saved at the last minute by Nick. Retreating to the church for safety, Nick; Andy; Elizabeth; Kathy and Sandy gather where Blake finds a cross made from gold stolen from the ELIZABETH DANE. As ghosts trap Stevie on the roof of the lighthouse/radio station, Blake grabs the cross which emits an eerie glow, apparently eliminating the ghosts and the fog. Stevie goes back on air to warn others about the fog as Malone, wondering why he was spared, is suddenly taken by the ghosts of Blake's ship.

The Fog has plenty to admire, the least of which is the only pairing of 'Scream Queens' Janet Leigh and her daughter, Jamie. Of course, the traditional tale of ghostly revenge is gory, creepy and loads of fun. Featuring loads of genre actors, plenty of inside jokes and another terrific score by Carpenter, The Fog is one of the few 80's horror movies to rely on atmosphere as much as gore. 2005 saw a truly awful remake starring "Smallville" star Tom Welling and "Lost" alum, Maggie Grace. Avoid it and stick to the original.

More, anon.

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