The Fog (1980) Review: Poorly Written Classic

“Lock your doors. Bolt your windows. There’s something in The Fog!”

Synopsis: An unearthly fog rolls into a small coastal town exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in its waters.

The Fog (1980) Review Poster
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Calamity Brains:

The Fog may be one of John Carpenter‘s classics, but it’s also a hot mess. I’m really not sure what the thought process was behind the story for this movie. Can you imagine the pitch meeting? “There’s some evil clouds… and also ghosts! Ghost sailors! Seeking revenge!” Well, okay.

Honestly, as hokey as I find the plot, that’s not where the big problems with The Fog lie. Not only is the story lacking in character development (a Calamity Brains no-no), but it’s full of unexplained intuitive leaps. Characters regularly seem to make their decisions and assumptions based on information that other characters know and they don’t. That, twinned with a number of needlessly long interludes and the fact that the action doesn’t really start until about 45 minutes in, means The Fog is shaky at best in the story department.

Where The Fog really shines is in the technical aspects. I enjoyed the lighting and camera work immensely, and the sets the filmmakers chose for critical parts of the story really stand out. Though I didn’t like the up-close ghost makeup, that wasn’t an issue until the very end of the movie; the rest of the time, I rather appreciated the way they faded in and out of the fog. The excessive use of fog machines did annoy me… but it’s a movie called The Fog, so I guess I have to let that one go.

There are also a number of big names attached to the movie (likely why it’s endured as a classic). John Carpenter directed the movie, of course; Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, and Jamie Lee Curtis take the Scream Queen quotient up to 11 (though there’s actually fairly little screaming in this movie). You’ll recognize a number of others as well. But despite the fact that all of those big names are generally quite good at what they do… there isn’t much for them to do here. John Carpenter was using a poorly-constructed script, and none of the actresses really had any acting to do aside from looking scared.

I would probably be less critical of The Fog if I didn’t find it so overrated. I know a lot of people love it, so YMMV here… just be forewarned: what little plot there is makes very little sense, and there’s very little horror in the movie itself.

Calamity Brains’ Rating: B-
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Calamity Brains

The Codex Mortis Horror Hosts (Ludwig von Stroodle and Calamity Brains) are married and live in West Virginia. Pretty much everyone who sees their cabin agrees that it would be an ideal setting for a horror movie. Their pets include a black widow spider, a smart dog, and a stupid dog. When they aren’t watching horror movies, they can be found at whiskey festivals, Renaissance fairs, and board game nights.

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