During an action scene in the film, a man runs into a wire rotating-book shelf in the grocery store. If you look carefully, you can clearly see that all the books on the shelf are written by Stephen King.
In the opening shot of the film, David is painting in his room. The picture he's drawing is a design from Stephen King's Dark Tower series of the gunslinger Roland, a Clint Eastwood-like character living in a Middle-Earth-like world. Another design in the room is that of the poster of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Carpenter also wrote and directed The Fog (1980), which shares obvious themes with The Mist, as well as Christine (1983), an adaptation of a Stephen King novel.
To help save time on the tight schedule, the producers and director Frank Darabont hired the camera crew from The Shield (2002), to shoot the film. This camera crew is able to move fast, due to the hectic TV production schedule. There was an "A" and a "B" unit, which cut down on production time.
Although not directly stated in the movie, it is implied that the creatures entered through an inter-dimensional rift as a result of Project Arrowhead, a secret scientific project being carried out on a nearby military base. An early draft of the script written by Frank Darabont included a prologue set in the base's laboratory, providing a reasonably good idea of what the Arrowhead Project was supposed to have been and what went wrong. In the prologue, a number of civilian scientists, computer technicians, and Army personnel gather around a large object which resembles an old-fashioned diving helmet: a metal tank with thick glass windows. One of the scientists expresses some concern about running an experiment in the middle of a thunderstorm. His superior tells him to relax and orders that the device be turned on. When the machine is activated, a small point of white light (described as looking like a flashlight shining through a keyhole) appears inside the tank. Moments later, however, lightning strikes the base's electrical generator. The point of light begins to get larger and brighter. One of the scientists calls for the machine to be turned off, but a technician tells him "we can't; we're drawing [the power] right out of the sky." The scientists stand helplessly by as the portal inside the tank gets wider and wider and a white mist begins to fill the tank. Something "slithery" is then glimpsed moving inside the tank. A colonel asks the scientists how thick the glass is in the tank's windows. The scientist, sounding none too confident, tells him that it can withstand up to forty times the pressure of our own atmosphere. Apparently that isn't strong enough, because the windows of the tank begin to crack and finally shatter outwards, releasing the mist into the laboratory.
Frank Darabont had originally been offered $30 million by a producer to make this film, but with one crippling caveat: Darabont would have to change his planned ending, a conclusion he'd personally envisioned and nursed for twenty years. In the end, he turned to producer Bob Weinstein and made the movie for half the amount, but only after forfeiting his directorial salary.
The line, "My life for you", spoken by Mrs. Carmody in the film, is a recurring line in other Stephen King texts, spoken by villainous characters to Randall Flagg (alias Walter O'Dim, Marten Broadcloak, etc.), the super-powered master of evil in several King stories.
In the pharmacy scene, when David Drayton is collecting a comic book for his son, Frank Darabont proposed to Thomas Jane that he should grab a copy of "The Punisher: War Journal" since Jane played the Punisher three years earlier. Jane declined because he had a falling out with the producers of the The Punisher (2004) franchise and decided not to return for the sequel. He instead grabs an issue of "HellBoy" as a shout out to friend Ron Perlman
The Dark Tower poster being worked on by David Drayton was actually painted by Drew Struzan, an artist famous for his movie posters of Star Wars franchise, Indiana Jones franchise, Harry Potter franchise, The Thing (1982), Blade Runner (1982), etc. All of the posters in the studio at the beginning of the film were painted by Struzan, as was the film poster for this film.
Norm is wearing a T-Shirt from WKIT Radio in Bangor, Maine. This is one of three radio stations owned by Stephen King. The artwork on this t-shirt is by Stephen King artist, Glenn Chadbourne (from Maine), who has produced art for many novels and collections by Stephen King.
Shot in the six-week hiatus of The Shield (2002) with its cinematographer, two camera operators, their editor and the script supervisor, all of whom the director has worked with when he directed episodes of the show.
Darabont felt the novella's ending -- the survivors drive off into the mist hoping to reach safety -- was too open-ended for a film, but contrary to the belief that he simply created this new one himself the inspiration is right there in King's tale. David in the story thinks to himself that if worse comes to worse, they have three bullets in the gun and four people in the truck. King never has them act on it, but Darabont does. "If we're gonna make a horror movie based on a Stephen King story, let's take Steve's most horrible, dour, and darkest thought and follow it out to its logical conclusion."
Frank Darabont picked Melissa McBride (The Walking Dead) from tapes given them by the local casting director, and she impressed even the more seasoned actors during her initial scene in the market where she's concerned about her kids. "The audition was thrilling, but what she did on set was even more thrilling." The cast and crew burst into applause when he called cut.
The pounding on the glass door -- made King jump in his seat on first viewing. "It was really one of the most gratifying moments because I scared the crap out of Stephen King, with the oldest trick in the book."
It took a while to configure, but the loading dock effect of having the mist stay at the open roll-up door without spilling in "had to do with temperature in the room and air pressure," and they could control it by adjusting the temperature.
The pharmacy next to the Food House store is called "King's Pharmacy", most likely a reference to author Stephen King. Coincidentally, Stephen King himself once had a cameo as a pharmacist in the film adaptation of his novel Thinner (1996).
When David grabs a comic from the rack in the pharmacy, you can clearly see an issue of "The Goon" towards the bottom. Eric Powell, the creator of this comic, is shown on the special features as a friend of Frank Darabont and crew for the day.
Brent Norton's Mercedes that's been crushed by a tree was a rental that had been in an accident but was going to be repaired. The production paid to use it with the understanding they wouldn't damage it further, but miscommunication led to that understanding being ignored. They ripped upholstery, denting the body, scratching the paint, and more leading to thousands in extra bills. "That was a big fuck up," adds producer Denise Huth.
When Marcia Gay Harden received the script, she was resistant at first having never done a horror film. She apparently called Braugher to talk about it, and he encouraged her to take the role saying to "view it as an actor's piece and not just a monster movie."
Darabonts films typically rely on steady, well thought-out camera work, but for this film he shook things up by going handheld for much of it. It was due in part to the film's budget and schedule, but it also paired with the film's urgency. "It's all improvised camera work."
In the narrative as to why Mrs. Carmody wasn't stung by the giant wasp as Mrs. Carmody believes the mist and the creatures to be a punishment from God. When the large insect lands on Mrs Carmody's abdomen and flies away without stinging her, she believes she has stood the test of God's Judgment. However, it could simply be the same principle as with a wasp -- she stood completely still and did not anger it, so the insect did not feel the need to sting her. A second possibility is that the insect landed on her clothing and did not sense her living flesh. A third possibility is that the insect simply did not like her smell. Who knows what motivates giant insects, especially supernatural ones.
The character Bud Brown (the store manager with the striped necktie and the red vest)'s name was chosen because of real life founder of C.N. Brown Company Bud Brown. C.N. Brown is a company in South Paris, Maine which operates convenience stores and heating oil offices in Northern New England, including near author Stephen King's own childhood home.
The opening set, where David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is painting, is designed after Drew Struzan's actual studio and features copies of his most famous poster work including The Thing and Pan's Labyrinth. "My idea was our artist here is painting a movie poster for a fictional Dark Tower film."
Darabont's initial script opened with a scene in a military lab showing the accident that ultimately releases the mist, but Andre Braugher convinced him to cut it. "I'm very, very glad I did, because I don't think it tonally matched and would have wound up on the cutting room floor anyway." Huth adds that it would have ended up being a "very expensive deleted scene."
An early test screening saw the two soldiers, approach him after it ended with tears in their eyes saying that while they loved the film they felt the ending "was too much" and needed to be changed. "I thanked them and they went off," he says adding that two others approached him immediately after saying that they too loved the film and hoped he would keep the ending as is.
Despite fans claiming that Norton was the one cocooned in the Kings pharmacy is entirely false, it was actually the Military Police officer who was seen coming into the grocery store to tell Private Jessup and the two other soldiers that all leaves were canceled. He mentions that he is going to check the pharmacy and tells the soldiers to meet him at his jeep. Moments later, the mist clouds the town.
When watching the scene of the police cars and fire truck passing the grocery store you can see the fire truck clearly marked Caddo Parish fire department. Louisiana is the only state that has parishes instead of counties and that is how you can identify the filming location.
When the group is in the next-door pharmacy, David (Thomas Jane) can be seen taking a comic book as promised for his son - an issue of "Hellboy". Later in real life, Jane directed the comicbook movie Dark Country (2009) which starred Ron Perlman, the star of the movie version of Hellboy (2004).
Thomas Jane was considered for the role of 'Rick Grimes' in 'The Walking Dead'. Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Melissa McBride, and Juan Gabriel Pareja all have roles in 'The Walking Dead' series. Sam Witwer also played the tank walker in the first episode of 'The Walking Dead' but was uncredited.
In the supermarket Irene Reppler is reading the newspaper "The Castle Rock Times". "Castle Rock" is a town from the trinity of fictional Maine towns created and widely used in his works by Stephen King.
William Sadler, who plays Jim, was also in 2 other movies that were adapted from Stephen King's work: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) & The Green Mile (1999), both of these movies, as well as "The Mist", were all directed by Frank Darabont.
Actor Sam Witwer plays the role of Private Jessup in the film. Singer/actor Sheb Wooley, who is said by many to be the voice behind the Wilhelm scream, played a role with the same name and rank in the movie Distant Drums (1951), which is the first movie that features the Wilhelm scream.
It is never revealed what happens to Norton, we don't see what happens to them. They walk out into the mist, along with the Biker who tied the rope to his waist and went out with them to get the shotgun. All the focus is on the inside of the store, feeding the rope through the door. The biker gets killed moments later, which leads us to believe that whatever got him also killed Brent Norton and the others. Later, when some of the characters are discussing escaping, they refer to 'ending up like Norton and his group'. So the people in the film believe he was killed. Norton does not reappear again in the film.
In the narrative as to why all the creatures from the mist resemble prehistoric or alien beings is never fully explained, only that they are from another dimension. It's likely that when King wrote the story, the appearance of the creatures was created to make it more surreal and grotesque, not to mention that it gave the creatures more leverage in their ability to attack the supermarket and
When the group heads to the pharmacy next door, Private Jessup holds the kitchen knife reverse blade. Sam Witwer who plays Jessup, also plays Starkiller in The Force Unleashed, and wields his lightsaber in the reverse blade style
Look closely in the first couple of seconds of the movie when David Drayton's studio inside his house is shown. Besides the posters for John Carpenter's The Thing and Guillermo Del Toro's Labyrinth of the Faun/Pan's Labyrinth drawn by Drew Struzan, there are three posters that are clear call-outs for other Stephen King books. The first (and most obvious) is the one David is coloring is the one of Roland Deschain and the Dark Tower. The other two, which are very briefly shown as the camera moves to show the Dark Tower poster, appear to be of a rain-soaked little boy holding a red balloon along with a figure in a yellow overcoat like a slicker. The poster of the boy is clearly a reference to little Georgie Denbrough, one of Pennywise's countless victims in IT, while the faceless figure in the yellow overcoat could be a Low Man from Hearts of Atlantis. Both are books that have been tied into the Dark Tower universe. Also, both books have been adapted into movies.
Thomas Jane, Toby Jones, Sam witwer and Nathan Gamble have all been in Marvel/DC related material: Jane was the titular character in The Punisher (2004), Jones was in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) as Armin Zola. Witwer portrays Agent Liberty on the fourth season of Supergirl (2015). Gamble was in The Dark Knight (2008) as Commissioner James Gordons son.
Silver sulfadiazine, sold under the brand Silvadene among others, is a topical antibiotic used in partial thickness and full thickness burns to prevent infection. Tentative evidence has found other antibiotics to be more effective and therefore it is no longer generally recommended.
The idea of aliens using humans as surrogates, trying them up and imprisoning them in a web, and then having the alien babies hatch out of the humans; this is all stolen from Ridley Scott's Alien. Although this plot point does nicely set up the ending; where the surviving humans feel like they have to commit suicide rather than be impregnated and harvested as surrogates by the aliens for years and years.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Frank Darabont's "controversial" ending actually comes directly from Stephen King's source material. Written in first-person, David entertains this notion in his mind as a distant possibility, noting there are three bullets and four people (Dan Miller doesn't make it to the car in the novella), but he ends his journal and leaves it in a restaurant the survivors have sought refuge in before the car runs out of gas. Darabont felt this ending was too ambiguous and wrote the story to its finite climax, and ending that Darabont says in the DVD commentary was endorsed by King as the ending King wished he would have thought of.
According to Cinefex magazine, Frank Darabont did not originally plan to include the giant, 6-legged behemoth which walks over the car, even though this is one of the novella's most popular scenes. Several CafeFX special effects technicians convinced him to put it in the film.
The original Stephen King novel was also the inspiration for the video game Half-Life (1998), where scientist at a top secret military base are running experiments with inter-dimensional portals and open the flood gates to its hostile inhabitants.
Frank Darabont originally wrote an opening scene showing the military scientist referenced to by Private Jessup accidentally opening the dimension portal that allows the creatures and the mist to enter our world. Over dinner, Andre Braugher questioned Darabont whether this scene was necessary. After thinking about it for a week, Darabont was convinced to scrap the scene, leaving the nature of the mist more ambiguous.
At the end of the film, when the rescue truck with Melissa McBride passes by David, Frank Darabont originally wanted a second truck to pass by David. This one would have been filled with various people from the market, including Jim, Bud, Mr. Mackey, and most of Mrs. Carmody's ex-followers, indicating that they were rescued safely from the store and making David realize that he and his group should have never have even left the market in the first place. Unfortunately, most of the extras and other actors had already left because their parts were finished, so Darabont had to scrap this idea.
Originally, David and his group, while driving away from the market, were supposed to drive by the webbed, desiccated body of the Woman With Kids at Home. However, Melissa McBride's acting during the scene where she leaves the market was praised so much that it was decided to not only have her character survive, but bring her back at the end completely unscathed and with her children.
Amanda has an empty six-shot revolver and two full speed-loaders in her purse. This means there are twelve rounds of ammunition for the revolver. During the course of the movie, exactly twelve rounds are fired before the revolver is out of ammunition.
When the hacked-off piece of tentacle is poked in the loading dock, it sizzles, turns black, and melts into a puddle of black goo. This process is exactly what happens to the bizarre creatures that appear in Stephen King's novel "From a Buick 8". Those creatures also were speculated to have come from another dimension, possibly the same one.
Before David and his group leaves, Mrs. Carmody requests that Billy and Amanda be sacrificed. A popular theory by fans is that Mrs. Carmody was right and that Billy's and Amanda's deaths at the end made the mist and monsters go away (given that the mist recedes soon after David kills them).