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The Fog (2005)

July 15th, 2007 · 3 Comments

John Huston once said: “”There is a willful lemming-like persistence in remaking past successes time after time. They can’t make them as good as they are in our memories, but they go on doing them and each time it’s a disaster. Why don’t we remake some of our bad pictures … and make them good?” This Distracted Globe recycles itself and examines the best and worst remakes.

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Off the coast of “Antonio Island, Oregon,” Nick Castle (Tom Welling) and his buddy Spooner (DeRay Davis) work aboard Nick’s charter fishing boat, the Seagrass. Their anchor snags a bag of sunken antiques and almost capsizes the ship. Back on the island, radio deejay Stevie Wayne (Selma Blair) broadcasts from atop a lighthouse, and announces the dedication of a statue honoring Antonio Island’s four founding fathers.

Nick puts a fling with Stevie out of mind when his weird ex-girlfriend Elizabeth (Maggie Grace) returns. He picks her up on the road hitchhiking, while a fog bank moving against the wind overwhelms the Seagrass, which Spooner and a buddy have taken out on the water to party with a couple of babes. A clipper ship appears out of the fog, and something aboard it apparently kills the kids on the Seagrass.

Elizabeth is haunted by dreams of people burning and drowning. Through Google and the local library, she learns that in 1871, the clipper ship Andrea Dane set sail from a leper colony. It was intercepted by the founding fathers of Antonio Island, looted and burned. The dedication ceremony is ruined by a fog bank, which unites the town against the ghosts of the dead lepers, who have returned for revenge.

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Debra Hill had been trying for years to mount a remake of The Fog, the 1980 horror film she had produced and co-written with director John Carpenter. Her perseverance paid off in 2004, when Todd Garner at Revolution Studios brought the project to his company, acquiring the rights from Studio Canal.

Cooper Layne was hired to adapt Hill & Carpenter’s film. I can’t say whether his script sucked; I haven’t read it. But presiding over the carcass was Rupert Wainwright, a former rap music video director of the Michael Bay school of visual arts. This means that no matter how idiotic an idea, if it looks “visually striking,” he’ll include it. Wainwright’s filmography includes the video for M.C. Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.” Case closed.

The original The Fog is one of my favorite horror movies. The script and casting may not live up to the film’s promise, but it’s a terrific ghost story. The ambiance Carpenter creates of a sleepy Northern California town – with windswept coast, gravel voiced deejay (Adrienne Barbeau), a radio station on a lighthouse, and freakish events – is classic, and the film works in spite of its flaws because it builds a mood of eerie stillness.

The Fog 1980 pic 1.jpg

It’s hard to imagine a worse director shooting worse actors backed by worse music in a movie with worse effects than the remake of The Fog. The decision to cast TV heartthrobs was tragic – neither Welling or Grace have any screen presence – but it’s understandable. They had open schedules and worked cheap. What’s incomprehensible is why a horror movie about vengeful ghosts crawling out of a fog was released as a motherloving PG-13.

There is nothing remotely creepy about this flick. Nothing. It’s flashy all right, but not the least bit unsettling, other than the appearance of Selma Blair, woefully miscast as a deejay. As an actress, Blair’s geeky mannerisms are her finest asset, not her voice, and it doesn’t help that instead of funky jazz, Stevie Wayne in the remake plays freaking Booda Velvets and flipping Fall Out Boy. How many 13-year-old girls could there be on this island?

John Carpenter received a producing credit, but his participation amounted to little more than giving his blessing for a remake and being well paid for it. He had the right idea. Computer generated fog looks artificial, not ominous. Flashbacks to the Andrea Dane and what happened on board that attempt to “flesh out the story” instead water it down. Everything about the movie is dumbed down, way, way, way down.

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“With plenty of money, studio backing, and major advances in the field of filmmaking, Wainwright has produced such a poor effort that it can’t help but encourage people to look at Carpenter’s 1980 original with even more fondness,” writes Nix at Beyond Hollywood.

Felix Vasquez at Cinema Crazed sums it up like this: “Take two big television stars with no talent, plop them down in a boring retread, add terrible special effects … and you have the elements for this gigantic piece of shit called The Fog remake.”

“If you really want to check out what The Fog is all about, pick up Carpenter’s original film. While I hardly consider that movie a classic, it’s far better than this hacked up, hokey looking remake that should have been tossed out to sea,” says Patrick Naugle at DVD Verdict.

Tags: Beasts and monsters · Small town · Woman in jeopardy

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 matt // Jul 17, 2007 at 2:37 am

    I always meant to see the Fog. I guess I know which version to check out now. Thanks for the heads up.

  • 2 jason // Mar 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    i disagree the remake was way better. better story. in my opinion

  • 3 kevin // May 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    seen both! the first is way better

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