October 20th -- The Fog
John Carpenter has had a helluva career. When you stack his hits up against his flops, especially when compared to other genre peers like Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham, he hasn't done half bad. With a "hits list" that includes "Halloween," "The Thing," "Assault on Precinct 13," "Escape From New York" and "They Live," Carpenter has more than cemented his place in the horror hall of fame.
"The Fog" is Carpenter's take on the traditional campfire ghost story. Almost literally, in fact, since the film actually opens with a campfire ghost story (delivered by John Houseman). A small fishing town is about to celebrate its centennial anniversary but the town is built on some truly disturbing secrets. One hundred years before, the town member's ancestors caused the deaths of a group of lepers, by way of taking their gold. Now, on the exact anniversary of the deaths, a mysterious, impenetrable fog has rolled into town. Strange lights and shapes can be seen in the fog but, once people begin to go missing, it becomes all too clear: the fog brings damnation and death with it.
As far as horror movies go, you could do a whole lot worse than one with rotting-leper-sailor-ghost-zombies and a thick, rolling fog. This film oozes atmosphere out of every pore and, thanks to a truly killer sound design, provides an abundance of genuine jump scares. The effects work is pretty outstanding: the kills are nice and graphic (these ghost-zombies love to use gaffing hooks) and the creatures are actually scary-looking, even up close. The cast includes some nice genre mainstays, including Jaime Lee Curtis (she must have enjoyed working with Carpenter), Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook and Janet Leigh. In certain ways, the film reminds me a lot of Michael Mann's semi-successful "The Keep." There's a certain similar sense of grandeur and menace to the ghosts in "The Fog" as to the demon in "The Keep" but Carpenter's film is a much tighter plotted affair.
This Halloween season, be sure to make time for some genuinely creepy chillers like "The Fog." There's nothing quite like a good, old-fashioned scare!