and I and all those people out there with a vocal love of film have
ruined it for everyone, pimping movies up, falling in love with
mediocre films and championing them to near-legendary status. We’ve
embraced turkeys, legitimized borderline movies, and elevated modest
films in our favorite franchises above and beyond realistic standards.
We’ve even embraced the films everyone likes, somehow adding a
credibility to them that transcends the mainstream. Sacred cows, little
flicks, and everything in between. It’s time we took a look inward and
came clean with 25 movies we think need to be taken down a peg or two.
These are our four categories for this list:
These guys have had it too easy. Far too easy. Don’t believe the insane hype.
Good flicks that have gotten too damn big for their britches.
Asshole, you love this film for all the wrong reasons.
WHAT THE FUCK
Something went horribly wrong here, and it’s carried over to the fans, who are blinded by shizer.
Your guide: Alex Riviello
Its Legacy: Carpenter’s second box office smash. Ruined dreams about seeing Jamie Lee Curtis in a film with her mother. A long prolific acting career by Rob Bottin. Overuse of fog machines in horror films. An incredibly bad remake.
Why It’s Here:
Horror fans have notoriously hazy memories. Any old film that showed even a second of promise is looked back on fondly, and the word classic is thrown around on too many films that don’t deserve it. By all regards, The Fog should’ve worked… John Carpenter did know better back then.
Before I get started let me just say that Carpenter’s probably my favorite director of all time. I find his films infinitely rewatchable, and he’s got a good 3 or 4 up there in my top ten list. I can find something good in every one of his films (with the exception of Pro-Life…). But you know what? No one’s going to be considering Ghosts of Mars a classic in 20 years. Why so with The Fog? At least Ghosts of Mars is fun…
The one thing The Fog has in spades is atmosphere, of that there’s no doubt. But it’s almost as if Carpenter didn’t know where to go after Halloween, and instead made the exact same film all over again. The same themes are explored here- the faceless menace coming back to small town America, the innocent people at risk. Foreshadowing the ripoffs of his own film that were in the pipeline, Carpenter decided to add some gore to the mix this time, as if to give his detractors something to really be able to complain about (have you seen Halloween lately? Not a whole lot of the red stuff there…)
So while it could’ve at least been an entertaining film, besides some decent scares there’s nothing that’ll keep your interest. For much of the running time it’s a boring, plodding film, and once you
realize what’s in the fog and why, the horror of the unknown vanishes
and you’re left with goofy ghost pirates attacking people for no good
reason. There’s nothing here that’d ever let on that it was made by the same director as Halloween and The Thing.
Even Carpenter realized how weak the film was… after watching it he went back to shoot a ton of new footage to try and save the film, including the beginning scene where the sailors tell the backstory and get picked off. It doesn’t work, obviously, but at least it shows the director knew what he had made (which is more than you can say about most horror fans.).
Ironically, this is what led him to agree to the 2005 remake, because he wanted to see it done right. Perhaps they shouldn’t have gotten the director of Blank Check to do it. Poor Carpenter just can’t get his shit together the last few years, eh?
A Moment of Piss: Jamie Lee Curtis- “Bad things seem to happen to me.” Oh ho ho! Way to take us out of the film!
These Ain’t Chopped Liver Alternatives: The Mist, Dead and Buried, The Changeling, and the Collective Works of John Carpenter (with the exception of Pro-Life, which is an abortion).
Nick Nunziata Agrees: The problem with The Fog is that it’s a
Carpenter film. It’s lumped in with his classic works when in reality it’s
a pretty good film with some great atmospheric moments [and Tom Atkins!] but
one that is paced like an unmotivated glacier and with a great concept that is
executed at about only 70% effectiveness. It’s such an iconic title. The
artwork and trailer and the whole vibe of the movie is ominous and reeks of “classic
ghost story”. And then there’s the John Carpenter factor. I truly
feel that a lot of the love this film gets is piggybacked on his truly classic
works, and this one to me is a bit more minor. It was one of his few films I
thought a remake might have been good for, but obviously that’s not the
But in the pantheon of classic horror movies, there’s
just no place for this one. It just has the distinction of being one of the
films to arrive during Carpenter’s golden years, and though the acting is
pretty damn solid and there are some great little moments, it’s hard to
believe that folks will defend this film so vehemently. The Sea and Ghosts are
an amazing pair and they go a long way towards building up the mystique to
warrant a classic tale. Not here though. Just a decent if unspectacular little
film from a great chain smoker.
Jeremy Smith Disagrees: I could argue that no one considered The Fog much of an artistic success in the first place and leave it at that, but Alex left the barn door open when he equated Carpenter’s 1980 mood piece with Ghosts of Mars. For all its pacing issues, The Fog is at least a beautifully composed (visually and musically) ghost story with a more than reasonable eighty-nine-minute run time. And while I’ve sat through seventy-minute movies that lasted a seeming eternity, Carpenter’s use of the 2.35 frame is so consistently stunning that the go-nowhere narrative hardly matters. The medium would be in much better shape today if film students were forced to watch everything Carpenter did (for the big screen) between Assault on Precinct 13 and They Live. If you want to whup up on prime-time Carpenter, give the uninspired Christine a few more lashings, but leave The Fog alone. It may be minor, but it’s more intriguing than most horror films I see nowadays. Atmosphere goes a long way in this genre.