It's such a simple idea, really. There's something awful hiding in the fog that's coming after you! Of course, since this is a John Carpenter film, that something is a crew of leper sailor ghosts who are bent on exacting revenge on the people of that seaside town who double-crossed them a hundred years before. THE FOG was John Carpenter’s follow-up to “Halloween”, and although this film doesn’t live up to the lofty heights of the genre-shifting “Halloween”, it is still a well spun ghost story.
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One of the things that most people tend to forget about THE FOG is that like “Halloween”, it is a low-budget movie - costing only about a million dollars. John Carpenter took great pains to make it look and feel like a much bigger experience. He shot the film in anamorphic widescreen format in order to give the film a ‘grander’ feel, and spent much of the rest of the budget on assembling a big-time cast. Not only did “Halloween” alums Jamie Lee Curtis and Nancy Keys return for another round with Carpenter, but Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau (in her feature debut), and the great John Housman joined the show. Rounding out the cast was the legendary Janet Leigh (Jamie Lee Curtis’ Mother). All of this helped provide an epic feel to what is essentially a small film.
In addition to the cast, much of the crew from “Halloween” returned for THE FOG as well. Debra Hill (writer/producer) and Dean Cundey (cinematographer) both came back as well as editors Tommy Lee Wallace and Charles Bornstein. John Carpenter handled the score himself and turned in another evocative effort - providing a haunting piano theme. This film also marked the first collaboration between Carpenter and make-up effects artist Rob Bottin, and the ghostly sailors in THE FOG are as scary as they are disgusting.
Although the film can be slow in places, it is also moody, tense, and effective. A satisfying supernatural mystery, THE FOG is great stuff for that particularly dark and quiet October night...
THE FOG fun facts - Though the British film “The Trollenberg Terror” as an inspiration for THE FOG, John Carpenter was also inspired by a trip to Stonehenge, which was shrouded in fog during his visit.
The final line of the film “…look for the fog.” is a reference to “Watch the skies.”, the final line from THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. John Carpenter would later remake that film as THE THING.
Once the film was edited together, it was determined to be to short. One of the scenes added was the opening campfire scene.
Stevie Wayne - “Well, my gauges must be wrong. I've got a wind blowing due east. Now what kind of a fog blows against the wind?”
Dr. Phibes - Nick, his wounds are covered with algae, his lungs are full, and there's silt in his fingernails. I tell you, I saw Dick Baxter three days ago in Salinas. Now he's lying there on the table looking like he's been underwater for a month.
Stevie Wayne - “I don't know what happened to Antonio Bay tonight. Something came out of the fog and tried to destroy us. In one moment, it vanished. But if this has been anything but a nightmare, and if we don't wake up to find ourselves safe in our beds, it could come again. To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness. Look for the fog.”