The Fog -- Damn them all!

It's inaccurate when others refer to me as a 'horror fanatic' - the inaccuracy lies in that I'm not bias toward any genre - splatter films have just as much potential as popcorn action flicks & rom coms. It just happens that horror movie images work better on tattoos & t-shirts, as well as having a broader toy market - especially in the last 20 years. But believe me, I'd definitely be the first to buy the My Dinner With Andre playset were it ever manufactured. 
Ironically, horror films as a whole are, to me, a failure. There have been a handful of comedies that have made me laugh, tearjerkers that made me cry, thrillers that put me on the edge of my seat, etc. etc. There have only been two scary movies in their entirety that scared me from beginning to end: The Exorcist & The Blair Witch Project. Of course, there are zillions that I like as movie-movies (The Thing, The Shining, etc.), & then there are a small handful that have parts that scare me; like The Fog. But if the true nature of the genre is to strike fear into the hearts of viewers, or generate some kinda catharsis of the id, then they're simply not making the full connection to me. So little so that I truly do get jealous when someone claims that a movie "scares" them.
Blair Witch & Exorcist are the only two in which the fear in me sustains throughout the duration of the film & lingers into bedtime when the lights are off. So, it probably makes sense that these two films have a lot in common - particularly the subject matter: ghosts. So, without getting too heavy into self-analysis, or exploring the minutia of ghosts vs. vampires or zombies or werewolves or anything else, I'd rather call attention to some of the more skin-deep characteristics: the mystique of past events, miscellaneous supernatural forces, & most specific to the subject at hand, scary voices.
The Fog is a more traditional ghost story - & by traditional, I mean it opens with a paced round-the-campfire monologue by John Houseman, doing his best 'John Houseman.' & that's always been the refreshing thing about Carpenter - he's always generally stayed within the same genre, while at the same time exploring & manipulating every avenue of it: ghosts, aliens, madness, vampires, the bogeyman, & the invisible man. & while I consider Fog to be Carpenter's second-best, I find his choice for the subtle twist on this particular sub genre to be its weakness - presenting the ghosts as more like slasher/zombies. & by weakness, I mean it's what takes the scare out of it. --- They still look badass, though - but don't create the same effect as the paranormal ambiguity that surrounds the rest of the film.
More precisely, there is one 'ghostly' moment in the movie that creates the kinda ominousness that I respond to, & it's ominous due to the criteria mentioned here: evil forces presenting a window into history with the use of a scary voice. But I think the reason I find it most startling is the ambivalence & the obliviousness of the 'ghost' - a residual voice literally playing on a tape recorder. It's not trying to frighten Adrienne Barbeau, or us. It just is. It exists. It's real & in our presence. Maybe that's why ghosts are scary to me - they don't even need to threaten us to scare us.     

- Paul 


joeymauro said...

I know this was about the Fog, but your references toward the Blair Witch Project, really, really inspire me to talk about my experiences with that film. I may just have a new post coming soon.

As, always very insightful, and informative, it's always awesome to learn about the likes, dislikes, and film experiences of any movie fan, especially one who is as good of a writer and with such comprehensive tastes. I love how you don't bother explaining certain figures or films because you assume (and you're right) that your readers already know the references you bring up.

Jacob Spickelmire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke said...

Excellent post as usual. Since you bring up Blair Witch Project as one of the 2 films that scare you, I was wondering what are your thoughts on the films released in the wake of BWP using that format (i.e. Paranornal Activity)?

P and J said...

There really haven't been any films in the horror genre that have used quite the same format. There have been a handful of faux consumer-grade 'video films,' but I can't think of any decent ones off the top of my head.

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