We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
The Fog (1980) is a film I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing once before this week. I’ve waxed philosophical more than once on Fangirlish about my love for John Carpenter’s work and directorial style. When I saw that The Fog was streaming on Amazon Prime this week, I knew that I had to revisit the film for this week’s #WayBackWednesday. Have you seen this undersung ghost tale of vengeance? Check out the trailer for The Fog and we’ll get started with #WayBackWednesday.
The Fog is a 1980 horror suspense thriller written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill and is directed by Carpenter and produced by Hill. The Fog features several John Carpenter alumni and notable horror greats, Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Nancy Loomis, and Hal Holbrook.
The Fog tells the story of a small coastal town in California, Antonio Bay, with a secretive, dark past. A bargain was struck 100 years ago. Money exchanged hands, but before the deal could be carried out, betrayal took place, wrecking the ship carrying a wealthy leper, Blake, and his fellow lepers, seeking to establish a leper colony just a mile above Antonio Bay. This is the backdrop of our story, until a mysterious fog rolls in on Antonio Bay’s 100th anniversary. This story of vengeance is an eerie, atmospheric horror suspense thriller, perfect for a cold, foggy night in January, making it an ideal choice for #WayBackWednesday.
It’s difficult to go into a much deeper discussion of The Fog without drifting into spoiler territory, so here are some quick fun points of trivia about the film to entice you to give this one a shot.
- John Carpenter is intertextual to a fault with every bit of his work. He loves to reuse actors from his other films or from other horror works that inspire him. Jamie Lee Curtis is Laurie Strode in Halloween, which also featured Nancy Loomis. Tom Atkins is the lead in Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Adrienne Barbeau (to whom Carpenter was married at the time) also appears in his later film, Escape from New York. Janet Leigh is one of the OG Scream Queens, starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and is also the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis.
- Speaking of being intertextual, Carpenter also has been known to name characters after friends, actors he’s worked with, and even other film characters as a little wink and a nod to them. Tom Atkins’ character, Nick Castle, is named after the actor who played Michael Myers in Halloween. Charles Cyphers plays Dan O’Bannon. The real Dan O’Bannon is Carpenter’s friend, with whom he collaborated on Dark Star. Dark Star is the film that became my favorite film of all time, Alien. The morgue doctor, Dr. Phibes, is an homage to the character of the same name played by Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
- John Carpenter composes the music for nearly all his films. The music is credited to the Bowling Green Symphony Orchestra, which is also the name Carpenter took when composing the music for Halloween. All of his scores feature a pulsing beat. The Fog is no exception.
- Adrienne Barbeau, already known for her deep, sultry voice, patterned Stevie Wayne’s disc jockey voice after a famous 1960s late-night female disc jockey, Alison Steele, known as the Nightbird.
- The thick, spooky fog for the film was created with dry ice. Combine that with the proper lighting and you’ve got an incredible, chilling effect with very simple elements.
- Christopher Lee was originally considered for the role of Father Malone, but when he was unavailable, Hal Holbrook was hired for the role. While I’d have loved to have seen Lee in the role, Holbrook is perfect as the struggling Father Malone.
- The Fog got a reboot in 2005 featuring Smallville’s Tom Welling, Maggie Grace, and Selma Blair, but was not well-received.
Sound interesting to you? Want a pleasantly creepy atmospheric thriller that’s fun for everyone to watch? Check out The Fog. It’s a fun suspense film, with a good metaphor–how do we respond when we learn that our origins aren’t as honorable as they may appear?
The Fog is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.