In 1871 the founding fathers of Antonio Island, Oregon, committed a ghastly crime on the passengers of a clipper ship seeking refuge. When the skeletons and cargo of this ship are disturbed by the anchor of a charter boat captained by Tom Welling (Nick Castle) and his first mate Spooner (DeRay Davis), a fog carrying the spectres of the murdered passengers rolls in on Antonio Island. Joining Tom in the attempt to stay alive long enough to discover the secret of the curse are his recently returned girlfriend Elizabeth (Maggie Grace), local radio announcer Stevie (Selma Blair) and Stevie's young son Andy (Cole Heppell). It seems the fog will not lift until the descendants of the wrongdoers have paid for the sins of the past.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
Truth be told, The Fog (1980) wasn't one of John Carpenter's standouts in the run of horror-thriller-fantasy hits he directed in the 70s and 80s. The truth also needs to be told about this altogether woeful revisiting of a spook show that at least boasted internal logic and decently drawn characters to engender audience involvement. These crucial factors are missing in yet another horror flick serving up a dull collection of stock types whose illogical and frequently stupid actions are necessary to advance plot and generate what passes for suspense.
You know you're in trouble straight away when two scantily clad young ladies and their panting male companions are seen guzzling beer on board a boat close to where the crime of 1871 was committed. The rules of unimaginative horror movies dictate that young persons displaying loose morals and too much flesh will be eliminated, and sure enough these party animals are quickly sacrificed on the altar of convenience.
Much less conveniently understood is just who these phantoms are after. At times it seems like everyone in Antonio Island is in the firing line, while at others only the descendants of the founding fathers are being targeted. Such inconsistency doesn't help matters, nor does the lack of chemistry between leads Tom Welling and Maggie Grace. With his male model looks and designer stubble, Welling hardly convinces as a small-time charter boat captain. Even less believable is the idea of deep-thinking Elizabeth (Maggie Grace) being romantically involved with such a dull chap.
Fans who remember the wonderful Adrienne Barbeau as the lighthouse DJ will also be disappointed by the self-conscious performance of Selma Blair this time around. And what about the affair between the skipper and the DJ while his squeeze has been away having nightmares about phantom ships and grisly deeds? It's plonked in as a major issue in the opening minutes and not mentioned again. For local colour we're offered an eccentric beachcomber who makes proclamations along the lines of "what the sea gives, the sea takes away" (oddballs always know best at times like these) before he, too, suffers the logic disease and walks cheerfully into the danger he's just warned everyone about. There's also Adrien Hough as the drunken Father Malone, who naturally is a descendent of those dirty dealing double-crossers. It's hard to work out whether Hough's slurred speech and downcast demeanour are part of the character, or an actor's reaction to the material he's been offered.
The Fog does pick up a little in a final reel at last offering the sight of its marauding monsters and a little suspense to go with it. Sadly, it's too little, too late and it's hard to care who gets out of this mess alive. Even sadder is a closing dedication to the memory of Debra Hill, who produced the original and died just before this one went into production. Directed without subtlety by Rupert Wainwright, who made an over-directed mess of Stigmata (1999), The Fog must be one of the worst films ever to honour a talented filmmaker.
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FOG, THE (M)
CAST: Tom Welling, Maggie Grace, DeRay Davis, Adrian Hough, Selma Blair, Kenneth Welsh, Cole Heppell
PRODUCER: John Carpenter, David Foster
DIRECTOR: Rupert Wainwright
SCRIPT: Cooper Layne (based on the 1980 film written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Nathan Hope (underwater Ian Seabrook)
EDITOR: Dennis Wirkler
MUSIC: Graeme Revell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Diner, Graeme Murray
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 2, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: June 8, 2006
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.