Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Jamie Lee Curtis vs. The Ghost Pirates, or Thoughts on John Carpenter's The Fog

In case you care, and I know you do, The Fog (1980) is actually the second of three career-defining collaborations Jamie Lee Curtis did with director John Carpenter.  The third is an uncredited voice cameo as the narrator in Escape From New York (1981).  The Fog has a low budget, indie feel despite the casting of some bigger names in minor roles including Janet Leigh (Jamie’s mother and Marion Crane), Hal Holbrook, John Houseman as the town elders.
It takes place over a series of nights in Antonio Bay, a seaside town with a secret, and ghost pirates in the fog.  Though they’re not really pirates, they’re actually ghost leper/zombies from an old shipwreck, , armed with cutlasses and cargo hooks (you know, like the one the killer used in I Know What You Did Last Summer).  Married to the director at the time, Adrienne Barbeau made her big screen debut as Stevie Wayne, high tonight at the KAB lighthouse on Spivey Point.
If anyone’s the primary character it’s Stevie; she’s the newcomer single mother who observes the town from her lighthouse (actually Point Reyes Lighthouse, Marin County CA), while Jamie plays Elizabeth, a random hitchhiker, a drifter/free spirit/art student who hooks up with local fisherman Tom Atkins from Halloween Season of the Witch (1988) as Nick.   There are three storylines that don’t really converge; Nick and Elizabeth, Stevie in the lighthouse and Hal Holbrook as Father Malone, the alcoholic priest who finds an old journal and figures out the curse.  Watch out for the John Carpenter cameo as Bennett, the church handyman.  He’s great behind the camera, but a little stiff in front of it.
More ambitious than Halloween and yet curiously less realized, The Fog has a traditional supernatural theme rather than the genre-bending, unexplained mayhem of Michael Myers.  It’s almost a step backwards, and makes more sense if the film was released (or at least viewed) before Halloween (1978).  And although written by John Carpenter, the soundtrack is sadly his least memorable.  The movie does hold a respectable 71% on Rotten Tomatoes, it remains one of John Carpenter’s weaker films, though a sentimental favorite.
Let’s not even mention the 2005 remake featuring Maggie Grace, who will always be Shannon from Lost to me.

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).