While nearly every John Carpenter fan will always go Halloween or The Thing to talk about the work of such a creative director, his 1980 offering The Fog should also be considered as one of his best work, even more so thanks to this brilliant opening scene that perfectly sets the mood,
In the hands of a lesser director, we would have had an action packed opening set-piece but Carpenter instead choose a different approach, that of an old sailor, sitting on a beach just before midnight and about to tell a ghost story to a bunch of kids.
With its ominous score, its a perfect setting for what is to come and for some fans, The FOG is Carpenter’s best film and this scene perfectly belongs in our Classic Scene feature.
11:55, almost midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before 12:00, just to keep us warm. In five minutes, it will be the 21st of April. One hundred years ago on the 1st of April, out in the waters around Spivey Point, a small clipper ship drew toward land. Suddenly, out of the night, the fog rolled in. For a moment, they could see nothing, not a foot ahead of them. And then, they saw a light. My God, it was a fire burning on the shore. Strong enough to penetrate the swirling mist. They steered a course toward the light. But it was a campfire, like this one. The ship crashed against the rocks. The hull sheared in two. The mast snapped like a twig. And the wreckage sank with all the men aboard. At the bottom of the sea lay the Elizabeth Dane with her crew, their lungs filled with saltwater, their eyes open and staring into the darkness. And above, as suddenly as it had come, the fog lifted, receded back across the ocean and never came again. But it is told by the fishermen and their fathers and grandfathers that when the fog returns to Antonio Bay, the men at the bottom of the sea, out in the water by Spivey Point, will rise up and search for the campfire that led them to their dark, icy death. Twelve o'clock. The 21st of April..... [bells ring distantly]