Double Feature Friday: Beware THE FOG edition

Posted: January 15, 2010 by Rebecca in Double Feature Friday, Horror Movies
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For tonight’s double feature I am watching The Fog and The Mist.

… I’ve stated before, I love fog!  I don’t love driving in it, but I love it’s presence in horror movies.  It’s just so utterly creepy, and you never know what could be lurking in it.

The Fog (1980)

Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing)

“Lock your doors. Bolt your windows.  There’s something in THE FOG!”

Antonio Bay is celebrating its 100th anniversary!  But, what the residents of Antonio Bay don’t know is that 100 years before, the founders of the town plotted to kill a group of lepers, and those lepers are about to get their revenge!

Our story begins with a group of children on a beach being told the story of the Elizabeth Dane, a ship that sunk 100 years before (the ships that the lepers were sailing on), when a fog rolled in, obscuring their sight of land.  They followed a fire on the beach, which they thought was a light to guide them, and instead of landing safely on land, the ship was sunk when it hit upon the rocks.

Meanwhile, a none-too-sober Father Malone (Hal HolbrookCreepshow, Wall Street) is in his study late at night, when a piece of the wall breaks off, and revealed beneath is the journal of one of his ancestors, also named Father Malone, who was one of the original plotters in the death of the lepers.  At the same time Father Malone finds the journal (which is during the witching-hour- 12am-1am), the rest of the town falls apart.  Car alarms go off, gas starts pumping by itself, and televisions go on by themselves.  Nick Castle (Tom AtkinsCreepshow, Halloween 3, My Bloody Valentine 3D) is driving down the road, minding his own business, and has just picked up a hitchhiker, Elizabeth, (Jamie Lee CurtisHalloween, Terror Train, Prom Night), when all the windows of his truck shatter.  We also meet radio personality Stevie Wayne (Adrienne BarbeauEscape From New York, Creepshow), the weather station man, and some fishermen.  The weatherman tells Stevie of a fog bank which is approaching the fishing boat, the “Sea Grass”, and Stevie Wayne broadcasts this.  Our fishermen do not see the fogbank at first, but it rapidly approaches.  This is not a typical fogbank, as it glows with an eerie light.  A couple of the fishermen go up to the deck of the boat, where the see a huge old-fashioned boat approaching them.  Behind them we get our first glimpse of the ghostly lepers, and death ensues…

The next day we meet the committee chairwoman (Janet LeighPsycho, The Manchurian Candidate, Halloween H20), and her assistant (Nancy LoomisHalloween, Halloween 2, Halloween 3) as they prepare for the anniversary celebration.  They go to see Father Malone, and he tells them of the ghastly deeds of the founders of Antonio Bay.  At around the same time, Tom Atkins and Jamie Lee Curtis go out and try to find the missing boat, the “Sea Grass”, they find it, and also discover one of our dead fishermen, who falls onto Jamie Lee Curtis- eeeeeek!  Stevie Wayne is also becoming nervous, because her son found a piece of driftwood on the beach, which said “Dane”, and when she brings it to the radio station, it begins to leak water, the words change to “6 must die”, and then it shorts out her electrical equipment, and starts a fire, when she puts it out, the original word “Dane” returns.

That night, the fog rolls in…………who will die?  Will our lepers get further revenge?  Will Antonio Bay succumb to the curse?

I must say that I LOVE this movie.  The first time I saw it, I remember being disappointed in it, as I did not think it was scary enough, but it has grown on me enormously.  I especially like to watch it late at night, in the dark…bonus points if there is a thunderstorm going on.  Its tone is so dark, and ominous, I can’t but feel a deep sense of dread as I watch it.  It is a slow burn of a movie, but I find the build up so suspenseful, and the music is so eerie, it adds wonderfully to the tension building.  I love the scenes of the fog slowly creeping up on the town, and I love that most of the time, our villains are obscured by the fog.  They are just shadows, and outlines….I think it works so much better to have them partially hidden from view.  Of course we do get one close up of a rotted, worm-infested face, but I don’t think we need any more than that.  It’s better left to the imagination.

“I don’t know what happened to Antonio Bay tonight.  Something came out of the fog and tried to destroy us.  In one moment, it vanished.  But if this has been anything but a nightmare, and if we don’t wake up to find ourselves safe in our beds, it could come again.  To the ships at see that can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness.  Look for the fog.”

The Mist (2007)

Directed by

Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile)

“Belief divides them, mystery surrounds them, but fear changes everything”

In The Mist, based on a novella by Stephen King, a group of people are trapped in a grocery store when an unearthly mist arises after a devastating storm, and brings with it terrifying creatures.

A local Maine artist, David Drayton (Thomas JaneDreamcatcher, The Punisher), his son Billy (Nathan GambleBabel, Marley & Me), and a neighbor Brent Norton (Andre BraugherPrimal Fear, City of Angels), drive into town after this devastating storm to get supplies.  As they shop, a bloody man coming running into the supermarket, terrified, and says that there is something in the mist.  At first people are skeptical, and some stay skeptical, including Brent Norton, but most believe that something awful has happened, and that there are unknown creatures out in the mist that are terribly dangerous.  The fear grows after a few deaths at the hands of these creatures.  A few groups of people form- those that don’t believe in the creatures, led by Mr. Norton, a handful of religious fanatics led by Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay HardenMystic River, Into the Wild) who believe that this is an act of God, and also a group led by David Drayton who decide finally that their only hope is to escape the grocery store.

Will they escape?  Will the religious fanatics take over and resort to blood sacrifice?  Will the creatures end up devouring them all?

This is one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations, along with Carrie, The Shining, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, and some others.  I think the character development in quite good, we really feel for David and his son, and we really HATE Mrs. Carmody, well at least I do.  The old woman played by Frances Sternhagen (Misery, Julie & Julia) is pretty much my favorite character, and my new hero!  I love it when she throws the can on vegetables and hits Mrs. Carmody in the head when she is babbling her fanatical/insane dialogue.  I also love that she has no mercy when it comes to these creatures, and does not hide in a corner, but rather improvises a flame thrower!  I also think the creature design is awesome, and there are some generally disturbing, nauseating scenes with the destruction these creatures wreak on these people- especially the scene in the pharmacy with the MP’s face exploding with baby spiders.

Thoughts on the double feature

Some SPOILERS may follow

–        I chose to watch these two movies as a double feature because obviously The Fog and The Mist share a similar plot of an unearthly fog/mist rolling into a town and bringing with it unearthly creatures.  In The Fog’s case it brings ghostly lepers, and in The Mist it brings creatures from an alternate dimension.

–        In each, the creatures that the fog/mist brings are caused in some way by the action of man.  In The Fog, the ghosts are coming back for revenge on those who plotted, and caused their death 100 years prior.  In The Mist, the creatures are unleashed due to the experiments at a military outpost during a project called “The Arrowhead Project”, when a portal to another dimension is somehow opened.

–        Both involve people holing up in a location to try to survive the wrath of the creatures.  In The Fog they hole up in a church, and in The Mist, they are holed up in a grocery store.

–        Both have similar lines of dialogue when they discover that the mist/fog is something dangerous.  In The Fog, Stevie Wayne cries out “There’s something in the fog!” over the radio, and in The Mist, the old man in the beginning who runs into the store (Jeffrey DeMunnThe Green Mile, Burn After Reading) cries out, “Don’t go out there.  There’s something in the mist”.

–        In the beginning of The Mist, prior to the storm, when we see David’s studio, there is a drawing based on John Carpenter’s The Thing.

–        Both movies have downer endings.  In The Fog, after we think everything is over, Blake returns to kill Father Malone.  In The Mist, when the car that David, Billy, and some others are escaping in runs out of gas, rather than be killed by the creatures, David chooses to shoot everyone, except himself because he has run out of bullets.  After he has completed his awful task, the military come to rescue everyone….super sad!

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