The Fog (1980)

R   |    |  Horror, Thriller


The Fog (1980) Poster

An unearthly fog rolls into a small coastal town exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in its waters.


6.8/10
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1 April 2005 | Libretio
6
| Old-fashioned horror movie works like a charm
THE FOG

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound format: Mono

While celebrating its centenary birthday, a small Californian coastal town is visited by a ghostly fog containing an army of murderous spirits who take revenge for a terrible injustice.

Released on a wave of expectation following the worldwide success of John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978), THE FOG surprised everyone by generating only moderate returns at the US box-office, though it's arguably the better of the two films. Beautifully photographed by Carpenter stalwart Dean Cundey (BACK TO THE FUTURE, JURASSIC PARK, etc.), this unassuming 'ghost story' opens on a lonely clifftop at midnight, where crusty old sea dog John Houseman tells an audience of wide-eyed children how their home town was built on the foundations of tragedy. As with HALLOWEEN, the pace is slow but steady, punctuated by a series of well-judged scares, and there's a relentless accumulation of details which belies the script's modest ambitions.

Jamie Lee Curtis headlines the movie opposite her real life mother Janet Leigh, though Hal Holbrook takes the acting honors as a frightened priest who realizes the town was founded on deception and murder. As the fog rolls in, the narrative reaches an apocalyptic crescendo, as the film's principal cast are besieged by zombie-like phantoms inside an antiquated church, in scenes reminiscent of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968). Scary stuff, to be sure, though Carpenter was forced to add new material during post-production in an effort to 'beef up' the movie's horror quotient, including a memorable late-night encounter between a fishing boat and the occupants of a ghostly schooner which looms out of the swirling fog (similar scenes would be added to HALLOWEEN II in 1981 for the same reasons, though under less agreeable circumstances). Production values are solid, and Carpenter cranks up the tension throughout, resulting in a small masterpiece of American Gothic. Highly recommended.

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