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Wayback Wednesday: The Fog (1980)

The plot was a bit foggy.

I have always loved Jamie Lee Curtis. From growing up watching movies like Freaky Friday (2003) to binging the criminally underrated Scream Queens (2015 – 2016), I have adored her in each project of hers I’ve seen. But it wasn’t until seeing Halloween (1978) for the first time a few years ago that I came to appreciate the horror icon that Curtis is. By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. Since then I’ve been on a mission to see the multitude of horror movies she’s starred in. Prom Night (1980) was a bit of a let down and Terror Train (1980) was thankfully more creepy, but The Fog (1980) is the one I’ve been most looking forward to seeing for a while now. While I enjoyed the overall spooky premise, I found this movie to be more than a bit sluggish which does little for me to root for it. Jamie Lee Curtis is still QUEEN though. Don’t go forgetting that.

Credit: / AVCO Embassy Pictures

Written and directed by horror legend John Carpenter, The Fog tells the story of a mysterious glowing fog that sweeps over the small coastal town of Antonio Bay on its 100th anniversary. Brought with the fog is a group of ghostly mariners who were murdered 100 years ago and are out for revenge. 

Within the first few minutes I was thoroughly on board with The Fog. Look, if you start off your movie with a grizzled old sea captain telling a ghost story around a campfire, I AM ALL IN. Regardless of how the movie turns out, I will see it through to the end. Credit where credit is due, The Fog is chock full of old school horror tropes that I LOVE. Sinister messages, vengeful spirits, cheesy deaths…these are classic aspects of horror that made me, and I’m sure many others, fall in love with the genre in the first place. The movie has an overall spooky, eerie tone that has me proclaiming it to be a must-see for anyone who’s even remotely a fan of the creepy. Oh! Or if anyone is a fan of the work of Stephen King. The Fog constantly was reminding me of King’s novel “Salem’s Lot.” Actually, the story of ghost pirates who terrorize a small town after an ominous fog rolls them into town sounds exactly like something you’d expect to find in one of King’s own books. Come on, you have the time to add this movie to your watch list! It’s only a modest hour and a half, the ideal runtime for horror in my opinion! Also, if any of you are like me and feeling a void left by Stranger Things (2016 – present), I recommend checking out The Fog. It’s atmospheric, supernatural, and 1980s-tastic. Even the music in this is very reminiscent of the series. I mean, duh, Carpenter (a major influence on Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer) also composed the music for this movie. The man truly has a remarkable ear for spooky ambient music. 

With all due respect to Carpenter, The Fog largely feels like a made-for-tv movie. The whole thing just feels kind of…phoned in. Which is so unfortunate. Carpenter and co-writer Debra Hill did such a fantastic job with Halloween in terms of writing, pacing and scares. Why is it so hard to apply that to California instead of Illinois and ghosts instead of a serial killer? The premise is so solid and so rife with spooky potential that it’s bonkers to me that the movie is so lacking plot wise. And in terms of scares. I swear, so much of this movie is just people speaking on the phone or Adrienne Barbeau working at her radio job. Hardly anything actually scary happens. The movie is so slow paced and takes so long to get to the main terror, that the only real action and horror is in the final 40 minutes. Honestly, the last 10 minutes are what I wanted the entire 90 minutes to be. 

To be blunt about it, I simply wish there was more to The Fog. The eerie, creepy tone that it establishes throughout is classic and unfortunately, a waste given that the majority of the movie is rather uneventful. In fact, I’m almost confident that many of you will find reading this review uneventful. You guys, I apologize. When I chose this movie to review, I thought that I had selected a horror movie dripping with style, substance and scares. Had I known that it would make for such a lacklustre review, I probably would have just watched it on my own without taking any notes. Hell, I barely took notes anyway. Again, my apologies guys and I promise to choose a meatier Wayback next week!

Have you seen The Fog?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!


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