Notes On John Carpenter’s THE FOG

Movies In Focus introduced The Fog (1980) at Nottingham’s National Justice Museum as part of a John Carpenter Season (find out more). Guests were treated to a foggy display in the Shire Hall (see below) and a ghost tour before watching the movie in the museum’s screening room.

Here are a few notes from my introduction…

The Fog was written by John Carpenter and producer Debra Hill after they were inspired by a visit to a Foggy StoneHenge during UK publicity duties on Assault On Precinct 13.

The film is an old fashioned ghost story, different from the slasher stylings of Halloween. It’s an atmospheric piece that owes a lot to the writingS of H.P Lovecraft. It also has a the small town feel which is reminiscent of many Stephen King tales.

Many of the character’s names reference Carpenter’s previous work or other horror films  – Nick Castle (Michael Myers in Halloween and co-writer of Escape From New York), Dan O’Bannon (co-writer of Carpenter’s debut Dark Star and Alien) and Dr Phibes (named after the Vincent Price horror villain).

There’s a deep Hitchcockian feel and the film shares many of the same locations as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Throw in Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis for additional Psycho / Halloween references.

The Carpenter love of a movie siege. He’s a Howard Hawks fan (Rio Bravo and El Dorado) and includes sieges in The Fog, Assault in Precinct 13 and Ghosts of Mars.

The Fog is based on a true story when the inhabitants of Californian costal town shiwrecked a ship in order to steal gold.

Visual style – Constant movement in Halloween – different type of storytelling. The Fog is dense visually and it features more cuts for tension. Both share an anamorphic scope, but the movement in The Fog is less dream like and the action is more visceral.

The next film in the Movies In Focus/National Justice Museum John Carpenter Season is Big Trouble In Little China.

Book tickets online here


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