12 Clear Facts About John Carpenter's The Fog

Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

Horror fans know John Carpenter best for Halloween and The Thing, while action and sci-fi aficionados might think of Escape from New York or Big Trouble in Little China. Often overlooked is The Fog, Carpenter's eerie 1980 crowd-pleaser that overcame its low-budget, do-it-yourself production to become a huge hit, earning 20 times what it cost to make.

Ignore the 2005 remake (for your own good) and enjoy this peek behind the scenes at one of the forgotten gems of the early '80s, which is making its way back into theaters for a limited Halloween engagement.

1. IT WAS INSPIRED BY SEVERAL CREEPY BRITISH THINGS.

Adrienne Barbeau in 'The Fog' (1980)
Shout! Factory

Stonehenge, for one. In 1977, when Carpenter and his co-writer/producer/girlfriend Debra Hill were in England promoting Assault on Precinct 13, they visited the ancient ring of stones and were struck by the eerie, foggy, mysterious atmosphere. Carpenter was also inspired by The Trollenberg Terror, a 1958 British film (released in the U.S. as The Crawling Eye) in which creatures hide in the mist.

2. YOU CAN THANK DAVID CRONENBERG FOR THE GORE ... MAYBE.

The film originally didn't have much blood in it; Carpenter, having gone that route with Halloween, wanted to take a different tack this time. But gore was becoming popular with horror audiences, and since Carpenter was doing reshoots anyway, the studio urged him to add some bloodletting. Carpenter says in the DVD commentary that it was David Cronenberg's Scanners that specifically inspired this ... but Scanners came out a year after The Fog. Maybe he was thinking of Cronenberg's The Brood (1979)?

3. JOHN HOUSEMAN WAS AN AFTERTHOUGHT.

About one-third of the film consists of footage shot after Carpenter and Hill watched a rough cut and determined the movie wasn't working. They added some scenes, re-shot others, and introduced the character of the old man (John Houseman) who tells the campfire story at the beginning of the movie. (Note: Mr. Houseman was not among the creepy British things that inspired the movie.)

4. JOHN CARPENTER WAS WORKING WITH HIS WIFE AND HIS EX-GIRLFRIEND.

Carpenter and Hill met in 1975, when she worked as the script supervisor on Assault on Precinct 13 in 1975. They broke up in 1978, when Carpenter met Adrienne Barbeau while making the TV movie Someone's Watching Me! Carpenter and Hill continued to work together for the rest of her life (she died in 2005), but making The Fog couldn't have been easy for any of them, as it starred Barbeau, to whom Carpenter was newly married. (Jamie Lee Curtis, a friend of Hill's, said in a 2013 interview that it was indeed an emotionally difficult time for her.)

5. THE NOVELIZATION CLARIFIES AN IMPORTANT PLOT POINT.

Dennis Etchison wrote the paperback novelization of the movie (he'd done the same for Halloween), in which better sense was made of the film's somewhat jumbled plot. One key example: though it's implied in the movie, the novel makes it clear that the six who "must die" are descendants of the original six whose nefarious deeds cursed the town.

6. JAMIE LEE CURTIS MADE THE FILM AS A FAVOR.

After the success of Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis experienced a not-unusual phenomenon where an actor expects to start getting roles but instead sits by the phone, waiting. The only post-Halloween jobs she got were guest appearances on The Love Boat and Buck Rogers, and she was getting discouraged. Carpenter, sympathetic to the ups and downs of showbiz, added a role in The Fog just for her. Prom Night and Terror Train came along while The Fog was still in post-production; the three movies being released back-to-back-to-back in 1980 led to Curtis being dubbed the cinema’s new "Scream Queen."

7. CARPENTER WAS SO DISPLEASED WITH AN ACTOR'S PERFORMANCE THAT HE NEVER WORKED WITH THAT ACTOR AGAIN: HIMSELF.

The director plays the church janitor who talks to Hal Holbrook's priest character near the beginning of the film. Carpenter said it was "one of the most terrifying moments in my life, having to deliver these lines to an accomplished actor." His final verdict on his own performance: "I'm terrible, so I stopped doing roles after this movie, except for helicopter pilots and walk-ons."

8. ONE OF THE JUMP SCARES IS TOTALLY A CHEAT.

About 34 minutes into the film, while walking through a church, Janet Leigh is startled by the sudden appearance of a priest played by Hal Holbrook, who steps out of a dark corner. But the corner wasn't dark enough when they shot it, so you could see Holbrook standing there. To make the moment work better as a jump scare, Carpenter darkened that part of the frame in post-production to keep Holbrook concealed.

9. CARPENTER ENDANGERED HIS STAR/WIFE'S HEALTH.

Adrienne Barbeau in 'The Fog' (1980)
Shout! Factory

The director's obsession with Howard Hawks (Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) led him to make Barbeau's character a cigarette smoker, emulating the feisty dames in Hawks's movies. (He cited Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep specifically.) Barbeau was a staunch non-smoker, though, and had to learn how to do it right.

10. JUST ABOUT EVERY GHOST ARM IS ONE GUY'S.

Tommy Lee Wallace, a friend of Carpenter's since their childhood days in Bowling Green, Kentucky, served as editor and production designer on The Fog, as he had done for Halloween. But both movies had him doing a bit of onscreen work, too. Wallace appeared as "the shape" (i.e., Michael Myers) in some Halloween shots; in The Fog, when several ghosts attack the church, it's Wallace's arm seen smashing through each of the windows.

11. JANET LEIGH WAS A BIG HELP.

Securing the participation of a veteran actress who was also the star of Psycho and the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis was a boost to The Fog's street cred, but Janet Leigh proved useful in very practical ways, too. For one thing, she was a pro. Carpenter said that because of technical problems, the scene where she cries (just before the festival begins) required 14 takes—and Leigh delivered real tears every time. In another instance, Carpenter used Leigh's stardom to charm a local restaurant owner into staying open late for shooting.

12. THERE’S A SIMPLE REASON WHY THE FILM'S RADIO STATION PLAYS SMOOTH JAZZ.

That's right: money. Though it seems unlikely that a station with this format would be so popular, even in a small town, it's much cheaper for filmmakers to get the rights to generic jazz recordings than, say, popular rock songs.

Additional Sources: Commentary and features on the Shout! Factory Blu-ray

An earlier version of this article ran in 2016.

Watch Kit Harington Gag After Having to Kiss Emilia Clarke on Game of Thrones

HBO
HBO

The romance between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen might be heating up on Game of Thrones (though that could change once Jon shares the truth about his parentage), but offscreen, Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke's relationship is decidedly platonic. The two actors have gotten to be close friends over the past near-10 years of working together, which makes their love scenes rather awkward, according to Harington.

A new video from HBO offers a behind-the-scene peek at "Winterfell," the first episode of Game of Thrones's final season. At about the 12:20 mark, there's a segment on Jon and Dany's date with the dragons and what it took to create that scene. Included within that is footage of the two actors kissing against a green screen background, which would later be turned into a stunning waterfall. But when the scene cuts, Harington can be seen faking a gag at having to kiss the Mother of Dragons.

“Emilia and I had been best friends over a seven-year period and by the time we had to kiss it seemed really odd,” Harington told The Mirror, then went on to explain that Clarke's close relationship with Harington's wife, Rose Leslie, makes the intimate scenes even more bizarre. "Emilia, Rose, and I are good friends, so even though you’re actors and it’s your job, there’s an element of weirdness when the three of us are having dinner and we had a kissing scene that day."

As strange as it may be, Harington finally came around and admitted that, "I love Emilia and I’ve loved working with her. And it’s not hard to kiss her, is it?"

[h/t Wiki of Thrones]

11 Surprising Facts About Prince

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

It was three years ago today that legendary, genre-bending rocker Prince died at the age of 57. In addition to being a musical pioneer, the Minneapolis native dabbled in filmmaking, most successfully with 1984’s Purple Rain. While most people know about the singer’s infamous name change, here are 10 things you might not have known about the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

1. His real name was Prince.

Born to two musical parents on June 7, 1958, Prince Rogers Nelson was named after his father's jazz combo.

2. He was a Jehovah's Witness.

Baptized in 2001, Prince was a devout Jehovah's Witness; he even went door-to-door. In October 2003, a woman in Eden Prairie, Minnesota opened her door to discover the famously shy artist and his bassist, former Sly and the Family Stone member Larry Graham, standing in front of her home. "My first thought is ‘Cool, cool, cool. He wants to use my house for a set. I’m glad! Demolish the whole thing! Start over!,'" the woman told The Star Tribune. "Then they start in on this Jehovah’s Witnesses stuff. I said, ‘You know what? You’ve walked into a Jewish household, and this is not something I’m interested in.’ He says, 'Can I just finish?' Then the other guy, Larry Graham, gets out his little Bible and starts reading scriptures about being Jewish and the land of Israel."

3. He wrote a lot of songs for other artists.

In addition to penning several hundred songs for himself, Prince also composed music for other artists, including "Manic Monday" for the Bangles, "I Feel For You" for Chaka Khan, and "Nothing Compares 2 U" for Sinéad O'Connor.

4. His symbol actually had a name.


Amazon

Even though the whole world referred to him as either "The Artist" or "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," that weird symbol Prince used was actually known as "Love Symbol #2." It was copyrighted in 1997, but when Prince's contract with Warner Bros. expired at midnight on December 31, 1999, he announced that he was reclaiming his given name.

5. In 2017, Pantone gave him his own color.

A little over a year after Prince's death, global color authority Pantone created a royal shade of purple in honor of him, in conjunction with the late singer's estate. Appropriately, it is known as Love Symbol #2. The color was inspired by a Yamaha piano the musician was planning to take on tour with him. “The color purple was synonymous with who Prince was and will always be," Troy Carter, an advisor to Prince's estate, said. "This is an incredible way for his legacy to live on forever."

6. His sister sued him.

In 1987, Prince's half-sister, Lorna Nelson, sued him, claiming that she had written the lyrics to "U Got the Look," a song from "Sign '☮' the Times" that features pop artist Sheena Easton. In 1989, the court sided with Prince.

7. He ticked off a vice president's wife.

In 1984, after purchasing the Purple Rain soundtrack for her then-11-year-old daughter, Tipper Gore—ex-wife of former vice president Al Gore—became enraged over the explicit lyrics of "Darling Nikki," a song that references masturbation and other graphic sex acts. Gore felt that there should be some sort of warning on the label and in 1985 formed the Parents Music Resource Center, which pressured the recording industry to adopt a ratings system similar to the one employed in Hollywood. To Prince's credit, he didn't oppose the label system and became one of the first artists to release a "clean" version of explicit albums.

8. Prince took a promotional tip from Willy Wonka.

In 2006, Universal hid 14 purple tickets—seven in the U.S. and seven internationally—inside Prince's album, 3121. Fans who found a purple ticket were invited to attend a private performance at Prince's Los Angeles home.

9. He simultaneously held the number one spots for film, single, and album.

During the week of July 27, 1984, Prince's film Purple Rain hit number one at the box office. That same week, the film's soundtrack was the best-selling album and "When Doves Cry" was holding the top spot for singles.

10. He screwed up on SNL.

During Prince's first appearance on Saturday Night Live, he performed the song "Partyup" and sang the lyric, "Fightin' war is a such a f*ing bore." It went unnoticed at the time, but in the closing segment, Charles Rocket clearly said, "I'd like to know who the f* did it." This was the only episode of SNL where the f-bomb was dropped twice.

11. He scrapped an album released after having "a spiritual epiphany."

In 1987, Prince was due to release "The Black Album." However, just days before it was scheduled to drop, Prince scrapped the whole thing, calling it "dark and immortal." The musician claimed to have reached this decision following "a spiritual epiphany." Some reports say that it was actually an early experience with drug ecstasy, while others suggested The Artist just knew it would flop.

This story has been updated for 2019.

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