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Horror - The Fog

Buy The Fog
Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook, Tom Atkins
Written and directed by John Carpenter
1979
MGM Home Video 2005
90 minutes

Perhaps the reason I did not remember The Fog as being that good is that it was the scary movie John Carpenter made right after the original Halloween and he had a lot to live up to. It features a very solid cast that includes scream queen mother and daughter Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis, sometimes screamer Adrienne Barbeau, John Houseman (of Paper Chase and Professor Kingsfield fame) in a cameo, Hal Holbrook, and a whole bunch of other very good supporting actors. Carpenter hits all the right notes –he did write the music too—in this really frightening ghost story slash horror movie with a dose of the usual gore and impalement.

The premise is simple: Antonio Bay, California is celebrating its centennial and a hundred years ago the people of the village did a very, very bad thing. A fog starts rolling in during the witching hour of midnight to one a.m. and stuff gets shaken up, glass breaks, ghostly fishermen with hooks and stuff get even. The movie works because director John Carpenter manages to slowly notch up the tension without ever going over the top.

Although The Fog clocks in at only 90 minutes, Carpenter has and takes the time to build suspense by having a scary moment or weird happening here and there while his story takes shape. It has the usual dead body popping out of nowhere to scare Jamie Lee Curtis, the back from the dead guy, the sinful priest (Hal Holbrook) who is the grandson of Antonio Bay’s original priest Father Malone, an old diary to conveniently tell you what happened a hundred years ago and suggest why things are happening now -the villagers shipwrecked a boatload of lepers who wanted to settle near them and stole their leader’s gold—a love interest, someone who ignores all the signs to go on with the party, and a medical examiner who doesn’t understand how the dead died.

The Jamie Lee Curtis character has a really funny line when she says, “Things seem to happen to me. It’s bad luck.” Must come from being in too many John Carpenter movies.

This is a really good, scary enough yet intelligent, horror movie. It is one of Carpenter’s lesser-known things that go bump in the night movies and is most definitely a good movie.

Extras include a new documentary on The Fog, the original documentary, a storyboard to movie bit, audio commentary by Carpenter and Debra Hill, Outtakes, and a couple of other goodies.

MGM Home Video has released the original film in the wake of the theatrical release of the remake of this movie.

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