The Fog: Movie Review

fog - poster

On the eve of its centennial celebration, a fog bank appears off the coast of Antonio Bay in California.  People are murdered.  Windows are shattered.  Electricity flickers.  It vanishes at the stroke of 1am, but it returns that night.  The fog, you guys.  THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE FOG.

I have a terrible confession: I had never seen this movie before.  As I mentioned recently, I have seen the remake many times (fine, I’ll say it: I’ve seen it too many times), but I never saw this one.  It’s unacceptable and I apologize to you all.

fog - radio station

That being said…

This movie, man.  THIS MOVIE.  I loved it so much.  Sure, the CGI fog looked a little cheesy at times, but it was 1980.  I found it to be perfectly acceptable 80s fog.

fog - ghosts 2We find out very early how many people are going to die, so each death feels like a countdown.  “That’s four down!  Two more to go!  Who’s next?  The mayor?  He looks like he can’t outrun zombie fog pirates.  I bet it’s him.”

fog - ghost stabThe entire movie felt like a story being told around a campfire, somewhere far away from civilization.  It was dark and dreary and ghosty and amazing.

The soundtrack is incredible (no surprise there: John Carpenter always brings the heat) and the cast was dynamite.  In fact, let’s just give a rundown of some of the cast.

fog - sandyNancy Loomis.  NANCY LOOMIS!  She’s the best.  She’s basically her same, sarcastic, Annie Brackett-ian self here and it’s perfect.  She’s perfect.  She should be in more movies.  I need to call her and tell her that.

fog - elizabethJamie Lee Curtis.  1980 was a big year for her.  The Fog released in February, Prom Night in July and Terror Train in October.  In this movie she plays a carefree hitchhiker who quick falls prey to the sexual prowess of…

fog - nickTom Atkins.  He played a ladykiller (what else would he play?) named Nick Castle.  Man, that’s a cool name.  (It’s also the name of the actor who played Michael Myers in the original Halloween.)  He seriously goes from meeting Jamie Lee Curtis to having sex with her in about 5 minutes.  During that time all the windows are shattered in his truck by ghost fog and he’s all, “What was that?  Let’s go back to my place.”

fog - stevie wayneAdrienne Barbeau.  She plays local DJ Stevie Wayne and she’s amazing.  She essentially works as the narrator for the rest of the town, and goes from “seductive DJ voice” to “concerned mother voice” at the drop of a hat.    She really is incredible in this.  And Stevie Wayne?  What a name.  I love it.

fog - kathyJanet Leigh.  Organizer of the town’s centennial celebration and wife to one of the first victim’s.  She spends the vast majority of the movie in a state of panic that the town’s celebration won’t go well, and the rest of it in fear of being stabbed.  She’s great.

fog - father maloneHal Holbrook.  Last but not least, the man who discovers the town’s terrible secret hiding in the walls of the church: Father Malone.  As soon as he finds out how the town was truly founded, he wants nothing more than to burn everything to the ground.  Or die.  Or both.

I will be watching this movie multiple times a year, most likely on dark and rainy nights.

Rating: 5/5

Chopping Mall: Movie Review

chopping mall - poster

In an attempt to shore up their overnight security, a mall unveils their new plan: metal security doors  that will close at night.  Also, three patrolling robots.  They swear the robots are non-lethal, but that doesn’t explain their onboard head-exploding lasers.  Some teens decide to have an after-hours party in a furniture store.  Lightning strikes the mall, the non-lethal robots are turned into murder machines and the teens try to survive.

chopping mall - robot
My thoughts:
The original title of this movie was Killbots.  Granted, that’s a pretty cool title, but I think Chopping Mall was the correct choice.  Really, they couldn’t have gone wrong with either of those two options.

This was a movie I had heard of, but never got around to watching it.  I didn’t know anything about it other than, “robots kill people in a mall.”  With that description, I should have rushed to watch it the minute I heard it, but, alas, I do not always make the smartest decisions.

chopping mall - mike & robot
The runtime is 77 minutes, which is ridiculous and perfect.  The set-up of “hey, we have robots patrolling a mall for some reason,” and “we’re kids, let’s party in a mall with roaming robots,” takes about 30 minutes.  Shortly after that, the group realizes that these robots will kill (this is where the aforementioned “head-exploding lasers,” come into play), and we’re off to the races.  There isn’t a lot of dead time in this movie.  They set it up, introduce the characters, then start killing them off.  Sure, they could have added another 10 minutes, but for what purpose?  I guess they could have added another couple to kill, but you know what they say: 8 people is a sex party, 10 people is an unlicensed orgy.

Can we talk about the characters for a second?  Because I love them all.

chopping mall - alison & ferdy
Alison & Ferdy – Our main couple.  They were set-up on a blind date.  While everyone else is banging on beds directly behind them, Alison and Ferdy are hanging out on a couch watching old sci-fi movies.  I love them dearly.
Alison is played by Kelli Maroney, who starred in the terrific Night of the Comet.
Ferdy is played by Tony O’Dell, best known for his turn as Alan Pinkard in Head of the Class.  He also played a member of the Cobra Kai in Karate Kid I & II.

chopping mall - greg & suzie
Greg & Suzie – “All they do is have sex and fight.”  Suzie is the one who convinced Alison to come to the party.  She dances like a less-insane version of Crispin Glover in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.  They’re beautiful people.
Suzie is played by horror icon Barbara Crampton, still cranking out solid horror movies in her late 50s.
Greg is played by Nick Segal, who had a short-lived acting career.  However, his first movie credit was in Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.  So that’s something.

chopping mall - rick & linda
Rick & Linda – Married.  They’re mechanics, and this comes up more often than I thought it would.  They have a really sweet relationship.  For a 77 minute 80s slasher about killer robots, I thought their characters were fleshed out really well.  Of all the couples in this movie, they were my favorite.
Rick is played by Russell Todd, who played Scott in Friday the 13th Part II.

chopping mall - mike & leslie
Mike & Leslie – Terrible people.  TERRIBLE people.  Mike is a stereotypical 80s villain, with big hair and a style of gum-chewing that can conservatively be described as “aggressive.”  Leslie is a shallow mean girl with an ample chest.  She will take her top off for no other reason than it will convince people to buy her cheap cigarettes.  They’re perfect for each other, and it’s clear they will be the first to die.  I have no idea why everyone else hangs out with them.
Mike is played by John Terlesky.  A year before Chopping Mall, he played an uncredited corpse in an episode of V.

Seriously. Look at this jackass.

I don’t know how many other things I can say about this.  It’s short.  It’s insane.  It’s beautiful.  It’s so gloriously over-the-top that I kind of assume the filmmakers were showing just how ridiculous the slasher genre can be.

Make no mistake: this is a slasher movie.  Sure, the killers are robots, but they employ some pretty solid slasher techniques.  Making noises in a dark hallway to make you shout out, “Who’s there?” and “That’s not funny.”  Stalking their victims and striking at the exact right moment.  Sure, once the movie gets rolling the robots are out there in the open, firing their lasers with reckless abandon.  But in the early going, they’re operating in stealth mode.  Like a short, metallic Michael Myers who just happens to say, “Have a nice day,” after killing people.

chopping mall - running
This is a glorious time capsule of mid-80s mall culture and the state of the horror genre.  It’s amazing.  My only complaint is that I didn’t watch it sooner, but that’s on me.

Rating: 5/5

Alright Mike. One more time.
Alright Mike. One more time. Give the people what they want.

Horror School is in Session

As I mentioned in the not-so-distant past, I am a relatively recent horror convert.  Because of this, I have fairly sizable holes in my viewing history.  I haven’t seen a lot of movies that a lot of people hold up as classics.  In a perfect world I would have found all sorts of time to just sit down and give myself a proper horror upbringing.  But it is not a perfect world.

So I have decided to enroll in Horror School.  I am counting on you, the reader, to supply me with horror movies that are absolutely essential viewing.  I’ll put them on a list, watch them when I can and put up some thoughts.  Along the way, I’m planning on throwing in some words on horror classics that I have already seen.  I’d love to use this to create a list that highlights the absolute best of horror cinema.

I don’t know how often these will be going up.  I’m hoping for at least one Horror School post every month.  I’ll be starting tomorrow with the slasher classic Chopping Mall.

Please send along your suggestions.  You can send them along via Twitter, email or leave them in the comments.

Sound the bell.  School is in, suckers.