I woke up this morning to a thick, heavy fog covering the neighborhood. It was so thick I could barely make out the house across the street. The streetlights made merely soupy, vague circles in the early morning air. Before I left the house I brought my wife her cellphone, just in case she got that alert text from the school saying there was a two-hour delay. I woke up my daughters, but told them to keep an eye on their iPods for alerts. Before I even walked out the garage door the school did their robo-call to the house announcing school was postponed for two hours.
A pardon from an early Tuesday morning.
You know the saying, “The fog is as thick as pea soup”? Well that saying was very fitting for this morning’s drive to work. Stop signs sneak up on you, as do taillights of cars you’re following. If there had been a herd of antelope crossing the road I’d a plowed right into them. I’d a plowed into an elephant with this morning’s fog. Fortunately nothing came running out in front of me, nor did anyone slam me from behind as I sat at the stoplights. I made it to work fully intact.
Of course, though, the drive in got me thinking about John Carpenter’s The Fog. I’m hard pressed to think of a film that captured dread and tension any better than that 1980 classic. People trapped in their homes with a glowing fog hanging ominously all around them, staring blankly out windows that are completely covered in that ghostly vapor. The scene with Adrienne Barbeau’s son trappped at home with the old lady babysitter. The knock on the door arrives and that old bag sends the kid to his bedroom to hide while she answers the door, sticking her head out into the ominous cloud. BAM! The hook gets her, and the kid is saved just in the knick of time by Tom Atkins and Jamie Lee Curtis. The guys out on the fishing boat that gets consumed by the fog, each taken out one by one. Adrienne Barbeau’s Stevie Wayne climbing to the roof of her lighthouse/soft jazz radio station as Blake’s ghouls slowly make their way to her, only to disappear at the last second when Hal Holbrook’s Father Malone hands over the golden cross to the leper ghost pirate Blake. And of course, the very end after the fog disappears then reappears in the church along with the ghost pirates to give Father Malone his final wish: to be the sixth life taken.
Yeah, what a great movie. And what a great soundtrack. I think in the history of horror/suspense films, The Fog is up there with the best. It hits all the right notes. The pacing is perfect, the acting is solid, and it ages like a fine wine. It’s 36 years old, yet it doesn’t feel dated or stale. I think the beauty of Carpenter’s work is that none of his films feel like time capsule fodder. They worked thirty years ago, and they work now. Not all of his films were great, not by any means. But his films that were great were really great. Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, Christine, The Thing, Starman, Big Trouble In Little China, The Prince of Darkness, and In The Mouth Of Madness all carry the Carpenter signature visual style. Some better than others, but that’s a hell of a lot of decent cinema right there.
That fog is hanging on, despite the sun attempting to burn it off. The sun has its work cut out for it. Maybe tomorrow morning I’ll wake up and the President will be held for ransom on the prison island of Manhatten and I can talk about Escape From New York.
Until then, have a good one.