There’s been a constant debate among horror fans whenever the question of John Carpenter’s greatest film comes up. Some say Halloween, others say The Thing, while some even point to They Live or Escape from New York.
But The Fog has always remained an underrated gem of his. And now with it celebrating its 40th anniversary, we thought it would be fun to take a look at 40 creepy facts about this foreboding tale of revenge from beyond the grave!
1. Following the success of Halloween, AVCO Embassy Films approached John Carpenter to offer him a two picture deal.
2.The second film from that deal wound up being Escape from New York.
3. Carpenter had gained a reputation as being “the new Hitchcock”, something he completely disagreed with, but found quite amusing.
4. Around the time the offer was made, Carpenter and Debra Hill were visiting Stonehenge in England, and noticed a dense fog in the air. They thought it would be really cool and scary if there was something lurking in it, and thus the idea for this film was born!
5. Carpenter cites his other major inspiration to be the vengeful corpses from the original “Tales From the Crypt” comics in the 1950’s. He blended this concept with the fog visual.
6. Despite the film’s $1 million budget (low for Hollywood films, even back then), Carpenter chose to shoot in widescreen Panavision to give it a grander, cinematic look.
7. There was also a real life shipwreck that occurred in Goleta, CA in the 1800’s, which served as a loose inspiration for what happened in this film.
8. Janet Leigh had loved Halloween (and not just because her daughter starred in it), and said to Carpenter that if he had a role for a middle-aged woman (which are sadly hard to come by), she would love to do it.
9. The opening text are the final two lines from Edgar Allen Poe’s “Dream Within a Dream”.
10. For the lighthouse location, they chose Point Reyes because it’s the second foggiest spot in the US (second only to Nantucket Island).
11. Point Reyes Lighthouse still stands today and was even added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
12. It also has 300 steps that each cast and crew member had to climb up and down each day of filming, which proved troublesome for those carrying heavy equipment.
13.The name of Tom Atkins’ character was Nick Castle, after the actor who played The Shape in the original Halloween.
14. He wasn’t the only character who was named after someone who worked with Carpenter. Others included Tommy Wallace (production designer/editor on Halloween and The Fog, director of Halloween III: Season of the Witch), Dan O’Bannon (writer of Dark Star), and Mrs. Kobritz (producer on Someone’s Watching Me!).
15. They also shot part of it at Bodega Bay, the same location from The Goonies, The Birds, and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
16. The Bodega Bay scene was actually shot in just one day.
17. Mother and daughter, Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis appeared together in this a full 18 years before their more famous appearance together in H20: 20 Years Later.
18. John Carpenter himself has an uncredited cameo as Father Malone’s assistant, Bennett.
19. Marked Carpenter’s first collaboration with George Buck Flower (who also played Red in Back to the Future), who would go on to appear in other Carpenter films Starman, They Live, Escape from New York, and Village of the Damned.
20. The main ghost Blake, was actually played by the film’s makeup specialist Rob Bottin. Carpenter cast him because of his intimidating 6’5” height.
21. Christopher Lee was originally offered the role of Father Malone, but had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. He had previously been offered the part of Dr. Loomis on Halloween, but turn it down (something he regretted for many years).
22. John Carpenter and Adrienne Barbeau were married at the time, so the role of Stevie Wayne was written specifically for her.
23. Barbeau based her “on air” voice on Alison Steele, a famous DJ from the 1960’s, nicknamed “The Nightbird”.
24. With the exception of one scene at the end with her son, Stevie Wayne doesn’t interact with any other actors and all of her scenes were solo.
25. For her radio program, they chose to use jazz music over rock because it was cheaper to license.
26. Originally, John Carpenter wanted The Fog to be the first of an anthology, where the fog itself would bring other things in. But sadly, it never made it past the idea stage.
27. There was a novelization written by Dennis Etchison, which clarified the fact that the people the sailors wanted to kill were not random, but were the descendants of those who played a role in their shipwreck.
28. Etchison also wrote novelizations for Halloween II and III, as well as Videodrome.
29. Initially, the film only ran about 80 minutes, and Carpenter had to add a few more scenes to make it long enough for theatrical release. The most notable of which was the sea captain at the beginning, telling the children about the legend of the shipwreck.
30. The sea captain’s name was Mr. Machen, after Arthur Machen, a horror/fantasy writer from the late 1800’s/early 1900’s.
31. Unlike many horror films of the early 80’s, The Fog has very little blood and gore.
32. The lack of gore was even lamented by a test screening audience who said that it wasn’t scary enough. To make up for it, Carpenter added a few more scares, including close ups of death scenes, and the walking corpse in the morgue.
33. In the film’s final scene with Stevie and the fog dissipating, they found it was easier to create the fog, then play it in reverse, so it looked like it was fading away. But this meant that Adrienne Barbeau had to play the scene backwards as well.
34. While she’s not the lead, AVCO Embassy insisted that Jamie Lee Curtis be featured on the promotional poster, to capitalize on the success of Halloween.
35. They also spent $3 million (triple the film’s budget) just on marketing. They even sent fog machines to some theaters that were playing it.
36. Originally set for a December 1979 release, AVCO Embassy pushed it back to February 1980 to avoid competing with the Christmas movie season.
37. Initially, The Fog received mixed reviews, but would later go on to become a cult classic.
38. Famed critic Roger Ebert only gave it 2 out of 4 stars and said that while he didn’t think it was a good film, it demonstrated that Carpenter showed promise.
39. Both Carpenter and Hill served as producers on the abysmally received 2005 remake. It has since pretty much been forgotten, while the original remains the cult classic that it is.
40. Time Out ranked it #77 in their 100 Best Horror Movies of all Time poll.
Which of these did you already know, and which ones surprised you? How do you like The Fog, compared to John Carpenter’s other films? Let us know in the comments below! For more reviews, rankings, fun facts, and other horror content, follow Halloween Year-Round on Facebook and Twitter!