The Fog

3 out of 10


Obscure Cult Movie Ruined

The 1970's produced a whole slew of cheap horror B movies which were almost totally alike. One however which stood out from the crowd was "The Fog" in 1980, directed by master of horror, John Carpenter, the man who bought us classics like "The Thing", so good they bought out a video game over 20 years after it was made. Whilst it's premise of the betrayed crew of a wrecked ship from the 18th Century repeatedly returning in a fog bank to take revenge on the descendants of those who had founded the little town on an island, "The Fog" must seem like a farfetched teen slasher flick of today, it was well done with both suspense and some gripping scenes, albeit on a clearly low budget basis.

Given some big bucks and the support of a major studio, one would have thought that the hapless director Rupert Wainwright could have pulled off a major coup the same way that his colleague Dominic Sena did in remading of the 1974 cult movie "Gone In 60 Seconds", but alas no. For a man rumoured to be a total control freak, his remake is remarkably directionless. After removing the basic scenes and characters from the original script, neither Wainwright nor Cooper Layne whose only previous experience was the widely slammed "The Core" had any idea of what to do. Gone is the horror of a dead seaman reel back from a kick to reveal the lugworms crawling and wrything in his wet rotting flesh of his skin and instead there's just some lame bandaged lepers. No more is the desparate struggle of the woman, chased up and onto the roof of the lighthouse as she fights off the marauding zombies and instead a flight of CGI ghosts just smash up a local museum and chuck a couple of people through glass doors which had so obviously had it coming to them. Worse, consider that scriptwriting 101 says that the central character is a protagonist, ie actually does something, yet Nick Castle (Tom Welling) has no apparant role in the movie and is of negligible effect on whatever storyline there is. And having characters doing stupid things and an occasional twisted harmless nutter thrown in is not creating suspense.

In any film review, it is normal to detail the actors, but in "The Fog" they are frankly just an morphous bunch of forgetable folk, blended to homogeniality that leaves them with as much presence on screen as the crew of the Marie Celeste. Even Slema Blair can't seem to find either her lines or the camera. Again and again, the fog comes in, the fog goes out, the characters keep suffering nasty deaths whilst the others seem to just wander about with as much of a hazy idea of what to do as Cooper Layne in font of his "Final Draft" scriptwriting software.

Despite the original's building of tension and pre-computer special effects done to perfection on a shoestring budget, it was the ending of John Carpenter's version that really took the audience's breathe away. One moment, the angry dead sailors who had thought to have been despatched forever, suddenly, so close to the end credits you'd never ahve guessed, return, instantly materialised in a determined throng at the back of the church, the classic "safehouse" in nearly every other horror flick, to decapitate the priest. Instead, in this version, some nonsense with confronting a pretty that's too stupid to print. So is there anything good about it at all? The scenery's nice!

Doubtful that worse things happen at sea

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett