People like to talk about how JOHN CARPENTER’s HALLOWEEN carries a torch for HITCHCOCK’s PSYCHO but how come folks rarely gossip about the mad crush THE FOG clearly has on THE BIRDS? I say these two coastal calamity movies need to get a room! Bays Antonio and Bodega are totally doing it and out of wedlock, I might add! THE FOG is so smitten it can’t resist name-dropping Bodego Bay within the course of the film but I believe the goo-goo eyed flattery extends further than that.
Stevie (ADRIENNE BARBEAU) Wayne’s windy, twisty roofless car ride echoes a similar drive taken by TIPPI HEDREN’s Melanie Daniels and Stevie herself, could easily be siblings with raspy-voiced, fellow nicotine fiend, Annie Hayworth (SUZANNE PLESHETTE).
JAMIE LEE CURTIS’ hitchhiking, free spirit Elizabeth Solley seems worlds away from HENREN’s trickster socialite Melanie but they have one important thing in common, it is implied in one form or another that the arrival of both into a previously peaceful haven may be exactly what attracts the horror to come.
In both films the terror more or less, comes from the sky and the malevolent force masquerades as a harmless routine part of nature. The nightmares modus operandi is to, like the tide, surge and ebb, bombard then retreat and always with the unsaid threat that the next attack will be ten-fold. Each flick cradles large casts who huddle together to face the onslaught and quickly learn the benefits of barricading doors and windows with furniture. Both movies share a mutual concern for how the crisis affects community members both old (JANET LEIGH, JESSICA TANDY) and young (VERONICA CARTWRIGHT, TY MITCHELL), all the while, happily ignoring the more typical recipient of horror’s attention, teenagers.
Where the two films diverge the most dramatically is with their explanations and conclusions. CARPENTER has no problem naming names. It is thanks to the corrupt actions of our forefathers that we suffer, the false lights of hope and understanding that hang above the jagged rocks of greed and prejudice are to blame. Simply put, we reap what we sow. You could even say that the dense swirling mists of THE FOG represent the cloudy confused view one has before they put their truth exposing THEY LIVE glasses on.
HITCHCOCK, with his devilish understanding of human behavior, throws implications towards everything from chicken seed to God’s wrath, to repressed (specifically female) jealous rage allowing the audience (represented by the hysterical mother in the diner?) to burn any witch that suits them. He stands back silent, knowing that no tragedy is scapegoat-free for long. If he has any slant it appears to be that terrible things are simply a part of nature itself and that no attempt to fortify against them will suffice.
CARPENTER’s accusation is tempered by his coda; Antonio Bay returns to normalcy and things are put back in their place with a stern warning to remain mindful. In HITCH’s world there is no miraculous clean-up, no redemption after dues have been paid, no understanding the baffling events. The sun comes up as it always did but the world is forever scarred and changed. For the record, I prefer CARPENTER‘s outlook, that salvation is possible through accountability even though I sadly suspect HITCH‘s nihilism may be closer to the truth. In any case, I only wish that at some point during THE FOG that somebody called up the KAB radio station and requested Stevie play the “Risselty Rosselty Now Now Now” song, that would have made this love affair complete.