The Fog
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The Fog (1980) More at IMDbPro »

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Fog can be found here.

The small coastal town of Antonio Bay, California is preparing to celebrate its centennial to honor the six forefathers who founded the town 100 years ago. What they don't know, until Father Robert Malone (Hal Holbrook) happens upon his grandfather's diary, is that the town was founded with gold stolen from the Elizabeth Dane, a clipper ship deliberately sunk in order to prevent its owner, a wealthy leper named Blake, from founding a leper colony a mile up the coast. As the townsfolk begin their celebration, local radio DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau) notices a mysterious, glowing fog bank rolling in, bringing with it the vengeful ghosts of the Elizabeth Dane.

Although many assume the film to be an adaptation of the 1975 James Herbert novel of the same name, the film is an original work written by American film-makers Debra Hill and John Carpenter. However, a novelization of the film (written by Dennis Etchison) was also published in 1980. According to Carpenter, the inspiration came from two places: (1) a film called The Trollenberg Terror (1958), a story about alien creatures that live in a cloud at the base of Trollenberg Mountain in Switzerland, and (2) an eerie fog Carpenter and Hill saw during a visit to Stonehenge. The story of the shipwreck and its subsequent plundering was based on the SS Brother Jonathan, an actual shipwreck that took place in 1865 near Goleta, California. A remake, also titled The Fog, was released in 2005.

While crossing a dense fog near Spivey Point, the Elizabeth Dane was misguided by a false campfire, deliberately set to lure them toward the light so that the ship would crash on the rocks.

It is either a reference to the fact that Baxter was the third Antonio Bay resident to have died or that three more must die, since Blake, in his message to Stevie, warned that "6 must die."

First to go are the three crewmen on the Seagrass—Dick Baxter (James Canning), Tommy Wallace (George 'Buck' Flower), and Al Williams (John F. Goff). Next is Stevie's friendly weather forecaster Dan O'Bannon (Charles Cyphers), who opens the front door all the while Stevie is shouting not to. As the fog rolls over the town, Mrs Kobritz (Regina Waldon), the caretaker of Stevie's son Andy (Ty Mitchell), also makes the mistake of opening the front door when she hears the eerie knocking. The ghost then goes after Andy, but he is rescued by Nick Castle (Tom Atkins) and Elizabeth Stolley (Jamie Lee Curtis), who take him to the church to hide. Just when it looks like the fog is going to stop at only five victims, Father Malone is beheaded by Blake.

As Nick, Elizabeth, Father Malone, Andy, Kathy Williams (Janet Leigh), and Kathy's assistant Sandy Fadel (Nancy Kyes) take refuge in the cellar of the church, the fog winds its way across Spivey Point, swirling around the lighthouse where Stevie is still on the air. Two ghosts break into the lighthouse and chase Stevie up to the beacon room. To escape them, she climbs out on the roof, but they climb up after her. Other ghosts break into the church. Father Malone finds the gold, which has been melted down into a large cross, and he offers it to Blake (Rob Bottin). When Blake grabs it, the gold begins to glow brightly. Suddenly, the glowing stops, the ghosts disappear, and the fog recedes back over the water. Stevie broadcasts an alert to all ships at see to "...look for the fog..." because it could come again. In the final scene, Father Malone, now alone in the church, wonders why Blake didn't kill him. Suddenly, fog starts pouring in the room from under the door, and Blake beheads Malone. Six dead.

There are several homages, both literary and film, including: (1) The opening quote at the beginning of the film—"Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?"—is the final two lines of Edgar Allan Poe's poem "A Dream Within a Dream" (1850). (2) In a broadcast about the search for the Seagrass, the announcer mentions "a sweep south of Waitely Point and Arkham Reef", nods to American fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft [1890-1937]. The fictional city of Arkham appears in Lovecraft's Chthulu Mythos, and Waitely (spelled Whateley) appears as a surname in The Dunwich Horror (1970). (3) The coroner, Dr Phibes (Darwin Joston), was named after the character played by Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972). (4) Nick Castle mentions Bodega Bay, an inlet on the California coast that was the scene of bird attack in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). Similar to The Birds, in which the attacks seem to begin when Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) comes to town, the attacks in Antonio Bay coincide with the arrival of Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis). (5) Stevie's last broadcast, in which she warns ships at sea to "...look for the fog...," echoes the last line from The Thing from Another World (1951) in which the world is warned to "...watch the skies." (6) In the shot in the souvenir shop where we see the town framed through a set of shark teeth is similar to a scene in Jaws (1975).

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