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Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Fog

I have a confession to make. I would watch Tom Welling in just about any piece of crap. Unfortunately, he must have heard of my devotion because he is definitely serving up a heaping helping of crap with this not-so-epic remake of the 1980 not-so-epic horror movie of the same name.

Using the original script for this version of The Fog, with marginal updates and changes, we find the residents of Antonio Bay, Oregon pestered by the arrival of a mysterious fog where century-dead pirates who want revenge on the descendants of the town's founders hide. In this remake it is made more clear than in the first that the pirates were really the victims of the town fathers, cheated out of their money and then burned to death on their ship. No wonder they're pissed.

Anyway, Tom Welling looks beautiful in stubble meant to let us know he is older than the high schooler he plays on Smallville, Maggie Grace, from tv's Lost, looks appropriately frightened, and Selma Blair completes the cast as the single mother and town DJ who warns the locals about the coming fog. I'll admit that I was disappointed in Blair, not that she did not do an adequate job, but the one thing that I remember vividly about the original was Adrienne Barbeau's presence in this role. Her throaty voice, a female version of Clint Eastwood's 'Dave Garver' in Play Misty For Me, was perfect. It set the scene as she leaned into her microphone in a most seductive way to breathlessly whisper to her listeners from her lonely post at the top of the town's lighthouse. Blair, on the other hand, sounds like a harp seal honking from the rocks below the lighthouse. Poor Selma simply does not have it in her to project the sensuality of her predecessor.

The special effects have changed the tone of the film entirely. CGI allows the ghosts to dissolve, fly, and generally change shape as needed to provoke fear in the local folks. In the original, the ghosts were simply men in costumes and make-up, but they presented a more menacing and "real" threat to the townspeople than these wispy apparations. All in all, the biggest trouble with the film is that nobody looks at pirates with terror anymore. What with "Talk like a Pirate Day" (September 19th) and Disney's Pirates of the Carribean now a part of our culture pirates have become downright cuddly, even the leprosy-ridden ones of The Fog.

That said, it still had Tom Welling, and that alone is enough of a reason to see it for me.

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