Just after Halloween was released John Carpenter made a couple of made-for-TV movies. Someone’s Watching Me! was a less than stellar outing, but Elvis brought home the bacon (most likely on a a peanut butter and jelly sandwich). Lurking right around the corner in 1980 came Carpenter’s first foray into the world of horror after Halloween’s success. In this episode of the John Carpenter Retrospective Shawn Savage and Jeff Konopka discuss The Fog. If you see only one pirate movie this year make it a Carpenter one.
The guys discuss the slow burn, third act explosion technique not uncommon with a Carpenter film. There are definite Carpenter stereotypes, regularities and quirks. His ability to jump from action sequence straight into the bedroom is not exactly the transition one might expect in a piece of quality cinema although we are talking about Tom Atkins. The mustache says it all. Adrienne Barbeau, his future wife, is in a lighthouse alone for practically the entire movie. Jamie Leigh and mama Leigh do a little mother daughter double team on this one (head out of the gutter even though that inuendo was blatant). Charles Cyphers DOESN’T play a cop, but isn’t a weatherman the same thing as a cop only a cop of the weather? Pay attention to some of the names used by Carpenter. Nick Castle is in this movie, just not as the shape or himself for that matter.
For a movie that saw nearly a third on the cutting room floor at the director’s own behest and then recut, this movie could have flopped. Modern intuition suggests that if a film is going back to the cutting room floor, you can save precious dollars by waiting for it to hit cable TV if at all. I compare The Fog to the strength of an ant relative to its size. For a $1,000,000 budget it pulled in $22,000,000. Carpenter’s got the goods and this movie let the major studios know it in a big way. That would bring us to our next film and one of my personal favorite Carpenter films, Escape from New York. Get ready for a power house discussion in about two weeks time.
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