Many sleepless nights. This film terrified me no end. I was six or seven years old and watched it at a family gathering in my aunts house late one evening. My parents had great difficulty getting me asleep that night, images of decomposed fishermen with glowing eyes and fish hooks for a guttin haunted my mind for weeks, nay years afterward.
The film, shot for a mere one million dollars back in 1980 was John Carpenter’s follow up to his seminal, influential slasher film Halloween (1978) whose success unwittingly influenced and paved the way for a deluge of cheap and nasty imitators that flooded the American film market in the late Seventies and early Eighties.
The Fog is not a favourite of the directors owing to the logistic difficulties of manipulating and creating the fog itself with a limited budget and shooting schedule. However, it is one of his most effective horror pictures; a streamlined, expertly crafted genre piece whose atmosphere of impending, creeping dread is created in no small part by Dean Cundeys’ widescreen framing and Carpenters’ typically spare music.
In the opening scene above, the venerable John Houseman, playing an old seadog narrates a chilling tale to a group of fresh faced cherubs around a campfire as Carpenters typically spare, eerie music chimes away in the background. The story concerned is a tragic tale of local fishermen from a Californian fishing town who perished at sea one hundred years ago. When the fog returns, it is said that the dead fishermen will return from their watery graves for their revenge. A simple, spooky set up for an old fashioned, archetypal ghost story.