Tag Archives: jamie lee curtis

The Fog (1980 & 2005)

18 Aug

Watching a master working in his prime area is a joy to behold, so watching another horror movie written and directed by John Carpenter is always a lot of fun. Today, I want to look at his 1980 horror cult classic, The Fog, and it’s unfortunate 2005 remake. The history of The Fog is almost as interesting as the movie itself, with this being Carpenter’s horror follow up to his classic Halloween, but the way the story is told and the images he uses is what makes it a memorable movie. The same can’t really be said for the remake, but that isn’t all too surprising. With that, let’s dive right in.

Let’s go back to 1980 and take a look at the original version of The Fog.

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It should be a time of happiness for the small coastal town of Antonio Bay, which is celebrating its 100th birthday with vigils and town parties. Unfortunately for the residents, an evil force is lurking just over the fog covered horizon. When a small ship is terrorized and its occupants murdered, the threat soon becomes more real. The only person who knows the truth is the town priest, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook). As the fog rolls further inland, more paranormal events start happening to the town, which prompts the town’s radio station host, Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), to report on the direction the fog is moving as certain member of the town work to lift the curse that has befallen them.

Following the overwhelming success of Carpenter’s independent hit Halloween, studios were eager to grab the talent (along with Carpenter’s co-writer and producer Debra Hill) and use it for themselves. That being said, The Fog is what I consider to be Carpenter and Hill’s true follow up to Halloween, and while it doesn’t quite stand up to that film’s excellence it still stands as a strong entry in Carpenter’s filmography. The biggest thing that drags this film down is the fact that it isn’t quite long enough. There’s a lot of time spent building up the mystery surrounding the town’s past and building up the cast of characters that not enough time is spent with the evil lurking in the fog. While this does act as a complaint, I will say that it also means the characters are much more three dimension than a lot in the horror genre of this time and it also gives the story a sense of urgency and depth.

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It’s worth noting the excellent cast of The Fog that brings the characters to life. Adrienne Barbeau, who was Carpenter’s wife at the time, is a good protagonist with an interesting task that makes her feel like more than just a target of the vengeful spirits. Hal Holbrook is great as Father Malone as he brings a real sense of fear to his archetypal character. Finally, it was cool to see both Janet Leigh and John Houseman have a small role in a John Carpenter film. The only person who seems underutilized in Jamie Lee Curtis, who doesn’t do a whole lot but tag along with Tom Atkins’ character.

While The Fog certainly isn’t John Carpenter’s best film, it’s still become something of a cult icon. The men standing in the fog, or even the fog rolling in from the distance to the little town has become images seared in the history of the genre, and taps into some deep, dark fear that we all have. If more time was spent with what was in the fog and the actual horror that happens in the third act, this would have been a perfect little horror film. Unfortunately, more time is spent building all that up that the climax feels less than what it should have been. Still, this is a horror movie well worth checking out.

With the new millennium came the trend to remake both foreign and domestic horror movies, and 2005 finally brought the highly unanticipated remake of The Fog.

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Life never seems to get too difficult in the small Oregon town of Antonio Bay. It’s a peaceful town with a good tourist attraction and a close knit attitude where everyone seems to know each other. This easy going way of life quickly comes to an end when an impossibly large fog bank rolls in from the sea and beginnings killing people in the town and destroying property. This grabs the attention of Nick Castle (Tom Welling) and his girlfriend Elizabeth (Maggie Grace), who start an investigation as to what could have caused this kind of paranormal occurrence. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the town they live in has been cursed by bloodshed since it’s founding, and the victims of the founder’s violence are returning to seek their revenge and to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

In terms of story, the remake of The Fog follows the original pretty closely. The main plot about specters coming in the fog to reign terror down on Antonio Bay is all there, but this movie makes some very odd and, dare I say, stupid narrative decisions. At the beginning of the movie, a whole slew of characters are introduced, which led me to believe that they would all have something relevant to do at some point. Well that was just wishful thinking, because the only people that matter are Welling and Grace’s character, and to some extent Selma Blair’s, who plays this version’s Stevie Wayne, but even this character is left with very little to do and is easily forgotten by the end of the movie. That may be one of the hugest problems this movie suffers from. It’s almost as if the writers were just making stuff up as they went along and forgot about things they wrote earlier on in the screenplay.

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Speaking of screenplay, the writing for the characters is completely derivative, both in how they speak and the dimensions they are given. There was one weird joke in the beginning that got under my skin so bad because it’s the kind of joke that only that really annoying person you know says. This whole movie is made up of characters that I really don’t like saying the most asinine things with complete sincerity. The final thing I have to say about the writing is the ending, which I won’t spoil but have to mention. It’s a completely different ending from the original film, which is fine, but it also blew me away with how stupid and unplausible it was. It’s seriously something that has be seen to be believed.

A bigger budget doesn’t necessarily make a better movie, and the 2005 version of The Fog is a perfect example. There’s obviously more money that was put into it, but the writing, the characters, and the acting were all so subpar the movie ended up just boring me to tears. I couldn’t take anything in this movie seriously, and that’s a big problem for a movie that’s meant to scare you. There’s to many jump scares and not enough actual fear. This is a waste of a movie and is best left to be forgotten.

Just to recap, I can say wholeheartedly that any fan of the horror genre should at least take a look at the original version of The Fog. It plays out like a campfire story or old urban legend happening right in front of your eyes. As for the remake, don’t pay any attention to it. It isn’t worth it.

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True Lies – Review

19 Sep

James Cameron is another one of those directors whose name is synonymous with action films, and very good ones at that. Before Avatar, he did such films as Aliens, Terminator and Terminator 2, and he even did well with drama in Titanic (although I’m not a huge fan of it myself). True Lies is another one of his films that is a nice combination of intense action and funny romantic comedy.

 

Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) isn’t quite what he seems. To his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis), he is a boring computer salesman whose excuse for not being home for long periods of times are business meetings and conventions. What she doesn’t know is that he’s a secret agent working for a ghostly government program. While he has no problem saving the world, Tasker is having a bit more trouble saving his marriage. On top of everything else, a Middle Eastern terrorist organization has nuclear warheads on American soil with threats of blowing up major cities unless their demands are met. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they brought Harry’s family into the mix thinking it would give them the upper hand…

True Lies can pretty much be broken up into two separate movies. One movie is a high octane action/spy film that will impress any action junkie with its nonstop barrage of over the top gunplay and explosions. The other movie is a goofy romantic comedy about a secret agent trying his best to save a marriage that appears to be doomed. Both ideas are good and well executed. The problem is the strange and abrupt transition from one to the other at a certain point. This movie also feels long, very long. But, unlike Bad Boys II, this isn’t a problem and the film is able to sustain itself.

 

The action se pieces are truly remarkable. At the time, this was one of the most expensive movies ever made, and it shows. What else would you expect from James Cameron? There’s planes, helicopters, car chases, huge explosions, and from a certain point non stop gun fire. Not only is there lots of it, it’s all really cool. There’s one particular chase that is hysterical involving a terrorist riding a motorcycle through a crowded hotel, being chased by Tasker on horse back. Yes. Horseback. Honestly, one of the most creative chase scenes I’ve seen in all my days.

As a bit of a history lesson, I think it’s noteworthy to say how much shit this movie got by a couple different groups. Women found it to be incredibly sexist how Curtis’ character is portrayed. She’s pretty ditzy and there is a pretty random strip tease that really got people worked up. Middle Easter groups were also offended by how their culture were portrayed, as in terrorists and crazy. While I see where these groups are coming from, I have to say that I’ve seen plenty of other films that have characters similar to the ones people were angry about in this. I don’t know if it was the time period or what, but people were furious. I’m sure Cameron shed a tear while he was on his way to the bank.

 

While True Lies isn’t Cameron’s best film, it’s still a great action movie. If the climax doesn’t get your adrenaline rushing, you might want to get yourself checked out. It’s funny and loud, even though it’ll take up most of your afternoon. I’d say check it out, it’s worth a watch or two.