It’s midnight and for you that may mean you’re half in the bag, working up the courage to talk to that girl you think has been checking you out all night at the bar or maybe you’re sitting on your couch in stained under-roos demolishing a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos flipping through Netflix, but not settling on anything to watch. For the folks in Antonio Bay, it means something ghostly. Something deadly.
As the small coastal Californian city gets ready to celebrate their centennial, odd and almost poltergeist like things begin to happen. Car alarms blare, payphones ring for no reason, dogs go crazy with barking (so basically, normal California now)… all with the sudden appearance of a fog. This ominous presence also very slightly upsets the mortar at the church, knocking lose a stone and uncovering a 100 year old diary of a teen girl. No, it’s from early settlers, but in their defense, it was cool for everyone to have diaries back then. Father Malone reads the journal, discovering that his grandfather along with five others purposely sank the ship the Elizabeth Dane and its crew of lepers, who only wished to develop a colony… but who would want to live near a bunch of icky lepers?
That evening, Nick (Tom Atkins who is MUSTACHLESS!) picks up a hitchhiking Jamie Lee Curtis, who must still be on the run from Michael Myers. On their way to nowhere, I guess, all of the car windows explode. Meanwhile, three fisherman drink beer on their boat as that fog rolls in. Ghastly, shadowed figures slaughter them and then vanish. The next morning, DJ Stevie Wayne (played by Adrienne Barbeau) is given a broken piece of drift wood from her son that only reads “Dane.” Later at the radio station (which she rocks in a lighthouse) her tapes play backwards, the wood bursts into flames and the words “6 MUST DIE” appear on the drift wood. Stevie just continues on about her day, which I assume is all you really can do.
Father Malone unveils the secret of the town’s founders to the mayor before the big ceremony: That they celebration would really be honoring murderers. Not to rain on his parade or anything, but didn’t English people murder a bunch of Native Americans to get the land we live on today? That’s beside the point.
The celebration goes on as planned as the fog rolls in, cutting power and phone lines. Bet you didn’t know fogs were were like the SWAT team of weather, did you? The specters in the fog claim a few more victims, including the weatherman Dan (Charles Cyphers) and Stevie’s son’s babysitter, who is some random old lady. Stevie gets on the radio and pleads for help for someone to help her son. Nick snaps into action and scoops the boy up before he becomes the sixth victim. You know, if all they want is six, that kid shouldn’t have been so selfish and let them kill him and the ghosts would have stopped terrorizing random, hard working people and causing a lot of money in property damage. Just saying.
Stevie then gives the worst advice, telling everyone to go to the church because it’s the safest place. She gives this information with absolutely no proof (guess her radio station is owned by FOX News. Zing). Father Malone is the only one to brave up and offer himself as a sacrifice, taking with him a gold cross. As he is being attacked by Blake, one of the ghosts that was murdered by his grandfather, it begins to glow because… it’s neat? No idea, but Nick manages to scoop up Father Malone and save him. The fog and the ghosts disappear, since they most likely have better things to do. The movie concludes with Father Malone pondering why he wasn’t killed, just as the fog rolls back in and the ghosts reappear.
In all honesty, The Fog isn’t John Carpenter’s best work, but it’s certainly not his worst. This film was after the success of Halloween, but right before the gory, special effects heavy The Thing, so it seems like good middle ground. It certainly showed how well director John Carpenter was developing as a filmmaker and storyteller. With roles from actors in previous John Carpenter’s, it’s interesting to see them all play different characters instead of being typecast. Also, the characters are all named after his friends, so it’s good if you like trivia. You could look at this as an experimental piece. What it lacks in violence and blood, like the previous mentioned films, it makes up in moody atmosphere, chilling darkness and a spooky story.
So tune in listeners, check out The Fog (now in a stunning restoration on Blu-ray from Scream! Factory) and keep them windows locked and doors bolted.
Hello, listeners… beware midnight when The Lost Highway rolls in…