Film: The Fog

"To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness. Look for the fog."
Stevie

The Fog is a 1980 horror film by John Carpenter (his first feature after a certain other horror film,) starring Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis and her mother, Janet Leigh, Nancy Loomis, John Houseman and others.

The small coastal northern California town of Antonio Bay is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Among the town's denizens are Stevie Wayne (Barbeau), who runs her own radio station, and Kathy Williams (Leigh), who is in charge of the centennial celebrations. New in town is Elizabeth Solley (Curtis), an aspiring artist who has hitchhiked from Santa Barbara. Everything seems peaceful in Antonio Bay, but on the night of the ceremony, a mysterious fog rolls in... and the fog wants victims...

Remade in 2005 with Tom Welling, Maggie Grace and Selma Blair. The remake tries to create more connections between the characters and also tries to expand on a few plot points from the original.

No relation to James Herbert's horror novel of the same name.


This film provides examples of:

  • 555: The call number to Stevie's radio station.
  • Action Mom: Stevie becomes one of these in the film's final few minutes as she has to fight off the ghosts.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: Subverted as Antonio Bay's birthday festival is cancelled due to power malfunction caused by the fog.
  • Axe Before Entering: The ghosts have a habit of using their longshoreman's hooks to break through doors.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Most of the main characters survive, but poor Father Malone still gets killed by the zombie/ghost lepers for something his ancestor did. May also double as a Downer Ending.
  • By the Hair: One of the ghosts grabs Sandy by the hair when trying to get through the church window.
  • Casting Gag: Mother and daughter Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis. Also Halloween co-stars Nancy Loomis and Charles Cyphers in addition to Curtis. All three interacted a lot in Halloween but are almost completely separate in this.
  • Coitus Ensues: Nick and Elizabeth hop into bed literally about half an hour after they've met, before they even know each other's names too.
  • Creator Cameo: John Carpenter appears early in the movie as Bennett.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Just as the sheriff is calling Stevie on her request, a pillar of fog climbs up a telephone pole and breaks off the cables.
  • Dangerous Windows: The ghosts/zombies break through the stained-glass windows of the church.
  • Diary: Father Malone's grandfather's journal provides exposition.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Mrs. Williams mentions that her dog kept barking and growling on the night of ghosts first appearance.
  • Eye Scream: One of the fishermen gets stabbed right through the eyes.
  • Fog of Doom: It's in the title, folks.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Stevie Wayne. Also a case of Two First Names.
  • Ghost Ship: Three examples. The Seagrass and the Resa Jane (the brig Nick talks about, which also seems to have fallen victim to the ghosts) are examples of the trope, and the Elizabeth Dane is a rather literal example.
  • Ghostly Chill: The ghosts cause the temperature to drop sharply when they appear (the thermometer on the Seagrass was stuck at twenty degrees).
  • Ghostly Goals: Plain old revenge.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Blake's (the leader of the ghosts) red eyes.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Most of the murders. In fact, there is no violence in the movie.
  • Haunted Technology: The ghosts' presence is first experienced when various technology goes haywire.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Father Malone tries this. Double Subverted.
  • Hollywood Density: For a man his age, Father Malone sure is strong to be able to carry a large solid gold cross.
  • Hooks and Crooks: Most of the ghosts are armed with longshoreman's hooks, although at least one wields a dagger, and Blake himself carries a sword.
  • Hope Spot: When Blake is given the cross it glows brightly and dissipates the fog, saving Stevie and the others. However, in the final scene, the ghosts return to the church, and Blake himself delivers the deathblow to Father Malone - the sixth and final victim.
  • Hysterical Woman: Subverted. Stevie's panic slowly starts to increase but she keeps her act together long enough to warn people about the fog and to fight off the pirates. This is a Justified Trope—she is trapped in a lighthouse while her home and her son are left at the mercy of undead pirates and all she can do is spread warnings over the radio.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The opening credits call it "John Carpenter's The Fog".
  • Jump Scare: Father Malone suddenly jumps out of his confessional booth in the silent church, scaring the bejesus out of Kathy.
  • Light Is Not Good: The fog is accompanied by a bright glowing light.
  • Lighthouse Point: Stevie's radio station is located in the cupola of an abandoned lighthouse.
  • Meaningful Echo: Sandy sarcastically responds with "yes ma'am" whenever Kathy Williams says something. Later on after hearing that her husband has been killed she asks Sandy to take her home, and Sandy says "yes ma'am" affectionately.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: The ghosts kill six people. Only one is female.
  • The Mockbuster: Oliver Krekel's Fog 2 - Revenge of the Executed.
  • Mythology Gag: Many of the characters are named after notable people John Carpenter has worked with such as Nick Castle (played Michael Myers in Halloween), Tommy Wallace (the film's editor), and Dan O'Bannon (a fellow screenwriter).
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The slow build-up at the beginning of the film where, after midnight, things inexplicably start to go crazy as a bad omen. There's no cause given and no explanation and the incidents in question just... happen.
  • Peek-A-Boo Corpse: Elizabeth is sitting around in the abandoned fishing boat when the corpse of a fisherman tumbles out of the overhead compartment.
  • Scenery Porn: The gorgeous coastline of Marin County, California.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Coroner's name is Dr. Phibes.
    • Mr. Machen is an homage to fantasy writer Arthur Machen (mispronounced, mind you).
    • There are HP Lovecraft references in the place names "Arkham Reef" and "Whateley."
    • The overall story is reminiscent of "The Night Wire", albeit with the news-wire Framing Device updated to a radio show.
    • Nick Castle is named for the regular Carpenter collaborator who played Michael Myers in Halloween (1978).
    • A place called Bodega Bay is mentioned, which was the name of the setting of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
  • Sinister Minister: Father Malone's grandfather, who participated in the murder of the leper colony.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: The ghosts in the fog want revenge for having been lured to their death so the town's founders could steal their gold.
  • Sound-Only Death: Father Malone, the third guy on the Seagrass and Mrs. Kobritz
  • Title Drop: ...look for the fog.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Although the townspeople did not know about the crime committed 100 years ago until Father Malone finds the journal on anniversary day.
  • Vampire Invitation: If the fog can't come inside, the ghosts can't either unless you let them. Of course, at the climax, the ghosts start getting impatient, as they just plain smash their way into the church and the lighthouse
  • Weather Dissonance: The titular fog moves against the wind.

The remake has examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Elizabeth Williams, played by Maggie Grace, is revealed to be the reincarnation of the woman Blake loved when he was alive, and she becomes her ancestor at the end and disappears into the fog with Blake while her lover Nick, played by Tom Welling, can only watch in horror. He lives on with all the other survivors, but the woman he loved is gone.