The Fog (1980)
I own the DVD of the original, and before that I had it on VHS, and prior to that I had a dodgy old recording from BBC 1/2, so i clearly have a soft spot for this film, and feel that it deserves a quick post.
The film is criticized by some of not following a solid story throughout, but i feel there was enough to keep me watching till the end. The story becomes more interesting once Father Malone finds out the story behind the lepers and why they came to their deaths 100 years before, but it is not overly important as long as the film is keeping you hiding behind your cushions throughout.
The general outline of the film, is that strange occurrences are happening around a small seaside town, including a missing fishing boat carrying 3 people that never returned back to the dock one night. The boat is found, and one body is found on board. A journal found in the church belonging to Father Malone reveals that a group of lepers were led to their death by a false beacon through a fog, that sent them crashing into the rocks and sinking out at sea, was lit by the 6 founders of Antonio Bay where the film takes place, including Father Malone's grandfather. The conspirators didn't want the lepers near their town, but were keen on the gold that was going to be used to purchase their settlement. The gold was seized from the sunken vessel, and hidden within the walls of the church.
A piece of driftwood is found by a young boy which has 'Dane' etched into it (the name of the ship that was sunk 100 years earlier by the founders, full name 'The Elizabeth Dane'). He gives it to his mother as a gift, but when she takes it to her radio station at the lighthouse, its words change to "6 must die" and engulfs in flames.
Fisherman storied that when the fog returns to their seaside town, the lepers would rise from the sea, and seek out the perpetrators of their death. Then on the towns 100 year birthday, the present townsfolk unaware of the true story regarding the lepers, celebrate the founders of the town, not realizing they are celebrating murderers.
Whilst the celebrations are being held, the fog moves inland, and the lepers murder another two residents, before attacking another group of characters in the church, and another at the lighthouse.
Father Malone realizes that the fog is carrying the lepers, and attempts to give them back their gold as a peace offering, and offers his life to pay for his grandfathers wicked deed and fulfill the sixth position of the lepers revenge.
The gold appears to work, with the lepers vanishing with the fog back out to sea without taking their sixth victim, but this is not the end, as Father Malone walks back into his empty church and asks out loud "Why not me? Why not six?", the fog rolls back into the church behind Father Malone and he turns around to see the lepers back, before turning around again and being met by one of the lepers who decapitates him with a sword. Then the credits roll to the eerie theme tune of the film.
The film scared me as a youngster, if there was a fog outside, you could be sure that I wouldn't be walking too far alone. This fear didn't last long, but the memories did, and even now certain scenes of the film get me.
The fishing boat scene had me the worst, it was the way that we saw the lepers for the first time. The fog blowing aside just enough for the viewer to make out figures in the smokey fog, before watching the three on board fishermen being hooked and butchered with not a drop of blood to be seen. The clever thing was that it wasn't needed. That scene scared me as a boy, and the use of blood would have probably made the scene less terrifying.
I am one of these people who gets more scared of what i cant see, rather than what I can, and I think that some films (not all) would benefit from less gore to make an impact.
The other two deaths involving the weather man and the babysitter were less eventful, as you only really saw the outline of what was happening to the people, except you do see the weatherman get a hook in his neck, but again no gore, which was fine as the film built on the moment, rather than giving the viewer a blood fest.
As for Father Malone, you don't actually see him having his head cut off, but you see enough to realize that's what happened.
Basically John Carpenter done well with this film. Some people may have wanted more with this film coming off the back of Halloween, but i felt that it was typical of his style, in regards to keeping you on the edge of your seat with fear and throwing in little twists and turns along the way, as he did with Laurie Strode in Halloween, when you realize exactly what Micheal had come back to Haddonfield for, although as well as this film being good. It didn't quite do for horror, what Halloween did.
This is well worth a watch, and I was going to compare it to the remake, but i realized that i haven't seen the remake for some time and couldn't fairly, or accurately comment on it, only that it was poor, and relied on CGI throughout, and didn't really pull off any scares like the original did.
My next post will be my thoughts on some remakes like this was meant to be, but i got carried away talking about the original and went right off course (Sorry Cal!).
Thanks for reading!