The Carpenter Files: The Fog (1980) Simon Fitzjohn March 30, 2020 Editor's Choice, Features 1103 Another John Carpenter classic to receive the 4K restoration and re-release treatment recently, The Fog is one of those strange films that, despite having been watched (and admired) by all self-respecting genre fans, never really gets talked about in reverential terms as, say, Halloween. Which is all pretty mystifying really, as The Fog is a taught, tense, atmospheric shocker with great ‘rewatch’ value – heck, I’ve watched it myself twice in the past month. And with a spanking-new restoration hitting the shelves there is no excuse to not wallow in its misty glory one more time. Carpenter’s first big-screen outing after the mammoth success of 1978’s slash-tastic Halloween, the director returned to the horror well that had served him so magnificently (both critically and commercially), coming up with something that, while still featuring silent killers offing unfortunates, comes in a very different package to the Michael Myers opus. The setting is Antonio Bay, a California coastal town, about to celebrate its centenary in grand style. Trouble is though, the founding of the town 100 years earlier came about in pretty murky circumstances, namely the deliberate sinking of a clipper ship – the Elizabeth Dane – to plunder the loot, with all the crew in effect being murdered by the proposed townfolk. Fast-forward to present day and, as the nights close in, Antonio Bay is subject to some incredible fog – thick, glowing, strange fog that just may shroud the ghostly crew of the Elizabeth Dane – back to claim their vengeance on the town in very gruesome ways… That’s about it as far as plot goes, but when Carpenter grabs the material by the scruff of the neck and shakes it out for all its menacing worth, you really don’t need much else. All the familiar faces from the director’s output are here – Jamie Lee Curtis as the heroine by default (but a far cry from Laurie Strode – this time a world-wise, straight-talking, hitchhiking, jump-into-bed-with-Tom-Atkins-after-one-scene type of gal), the aforementioned Atkins, Adrienne Barbeau as a smooth-talking radio host, Nancy Loomis, Charles Cyphers and so on. A few welcome new faces appear and produce sterling work – from Hal Holbrook as Father Malone, to Janet Leigh as town mayor Kathy Williams (allowing horror audiences a neat little Leigh-Curtis mother-daughter double act). Carpenter himself even pops up as a church handyman begging to get paid. But, casting aside all the performances, it is the fog that is the real star here – and rightly so. Whether it be the mist itself enveloping the town’s locations, or the sightings of the ghost ship, or even the silhouetted, shambling appearances of Blake and his rotting sailor crew, the effects are tremendous, even more so when you get some juicy murder sequences inserted by Carpenter after the original cut of the film went down like a lead balloon with studio execs (and the director himself it must be said). A further plus point comes in the shape of another synthesiser masterclass courtesy of Carpenter himself on the soundtrack – a minimal, haunting series of melodies that set the mood beautifully. I really cannot find fault with The Fog at all and, if you fancy seeing it in the best possible quality you could imagine – well, now there is no excuse.