11:55! Almost midnight! Enough time for one more review! Ha ha, no, it’s not old Mr. Machen, it’s Burl, here to review the original version of The Fog! (I’d almost forgotten there even was a remake, you know – I saw it, I think, but insofar as I can recall it, it was really bland!)
That’s not the case with this one, which was stylishly made by a director I really like, John "Prince of Darkness" Carpenter! He starts it off with a ghost story, excellently told by John Houseman as a sea captain named Mr. Machen! He sets up the whole story, and if the movie isn’t quite able to live up to that first five minutes and the possibilities it raises, well, it truly does its best! Almost right away, as the clock strikes twelve and it’s been exactly a hundred years since this little seaside community fooled a bunch of lepers into steering their ship into the rocks, sword-wielding leper-ghosts begin stalking the town and popping out of the ever-present, you guessed it, fog!
There’s a great cast, with lots of choices for heroes and heroines! If you don’t like Adrienne "Creepshow" Barbeau, then you can pretend Jamie Lee "Halloween" Curtis is the female lead; and if you don’t like that particular donkey girlscout, just focus on Adrienne instead! (And Adrienne was married to John Carpenter at the time, so fat chance she wasn’t going to be in it, ha ha!) And you’ve got guys like the great Tom Atkins as the hero who doesn’t really do much of anything, Hal Holbrook as a whiskey priest, that ol’ houndog George ‘Buck’ Flower as a doomed sailor-man, and John Carpenter himself as Bennett! Add to that Houseman and the legendary Janet Leigh and you’ve got the best bunch of actors to appear in a low-budget horror movie in some time!
Great location, too! The movie was shot in Northern California, near the Point Reyes lighthouse, and boy does the area look great! The scene with Adrienne Barbeau walking down a million stairs to get to the radio station she’s set up in her lighthouse (weird, I know!) is beautiful, so congratulations to that portly and bearded cinematographer Dean Cundey!
I should note that I sure wish there was a radio station like hers in my town, by the way! It seems to be largely Adrienne talking in a sexy voice, interrupted occasionally by tootling songs that sound like 1940s elevator music! I’d have that station on all the time! Anyway, many thanks to all of you who helped make this delightful minor classic, which I would like to give three and a half grizzled sea captains!