Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Flashbacks: The Fog 1980

The Fog 1980
Director: John Carpenter
Writers: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, Janet Leigh, John Houseman, James Canning, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Loomis, They Mitchell, Hal Holbrook and Buck Flowers

The Fog in my opinion is one of the best ghost stories ever put to film and one that just gets better with each repeated viewing. The opening bit with John Houseman telling the story of the ship, really sets the mood and atmosphere for the film and it is able to sustain that feeling of dread throughout the entire film. The film works more with subtlety and mood than with some of the kill effects that are used in the film. That is one misstep if any that Carpenter commits. The films power of fear and secrets carries the film more than sight gags ever will. The cast for the film is phenomenal, it is really anchored by the performances of Barbeau, Atkins and Holbrook. They all bring something different to the film and that is what makes the film so damn entertaining. It is a film that tells you secrets never stay hidden and they can come back and attack you at the most inopportune times.
The plot basics are this, 100 years ago the ship the Elizabeth Dane was lured to Antonio Bay and caused to wreck because of the gold that the Captain paid the founders of the town so they could live there, but they were lepers and all the townsfolk wanted was their money and not their company, so they caused their ship to hit the rocks and for everyone on board to die. Now it is the present day and Antonio Bay is getting ready to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the founding of the township. It seems that some kind of glowing fog is creeping into the bay and carrying with it are the risen dead of the Elizabeth Dane, who are hell bent on killing everyone in town that the fog comes in proximity too. The local priest, Father Malone (Holbrook) finds out about the conspiracy that has caused this night of terror and along with some other denizens of the city, hole up in the church and try to defend themselves from the risen spirits. Will Father Malone be able to stop the vengeful spirits or will they take their revenge?
This is a excellent horror film. The direction by Carpenter is flawless. From the opening ghost story by Houseman, he hooks the viewers and they are mesmerized from the beginning on what will befall Antonio Bay. His use of lighting and the fog is extraordinary too. The sense of foreboding doom from the encroaching fog is really palatable and ratchets up the tension with each scene. The script has a slow burn to it as it sets up the story of the Elizabeth Dane and then introduces you to all of the central characters crucial to the unfolding of the story. The characters are very fully realized and you truly feel for Father Malone and Stevie Wayne. The cast is phenomenal. Barbeau as Wayne is the focal point of the film and is really the heart of the film. How she tries to help and warn he town through her radio show works really well. Atkins as always is a capable hero and he is always fun to watch him work. Holbrook as Father Malone is the final piece of the puzzle, he plays to perfection a broken down drunk priest, who through his discovery of the evil his ancestors did tries to find himself a sense of redemption. Curtis is very good too and I love the bit with Houseman in the beginning, as that is my personal favorite scene in the film. The SFX and effects in the film are great too, most of the kills are off screen, but the ones that are shown are quite gruesome and fun. The musical score by Carpenter is yet another of his great scores and when you hear the first few beats, it really sets the mood for what you are about to see. This is one of the best ghost stories and one of Carpenter's finest films. Definitely seek it out if you have not seen this gem yet.
This one gets 5 out of 5

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