Movie Reviews from The Fox Hole – The Fog (1980)

Welcome back to Movie Reviews from The Fox Hole. My little buddy and I have a classic ghost story for you this time around and a blast from the past.

The Fog (1980)

John Carpenter’s The Fog


Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman, Tom Akins, Hal Holbrook

Review –

As an adult, you often look back on your childhood and recall memories tied in with activities that you shared with either friends or family. For me some of those favorite memories are of watching horror movies with my mom. We constantly butted heads, didn’t have the best relationship in the world, but there was one thing we shared our love of horror movies. I grew up in a very poor household and didn’t actually go to the movies until I was eighteen and on my own. The first movie I saw in a theater was one done by one of the master’s of horror I’d grown up with John Carpenter. One of my favorite John Carpenter treats is The Fog.

The Fog is a classic ghost story; a tale of vengeance and the sins of the fathers revisited on the children. I haven’t seen the remake—No, I have, but it was so unremarkable that I already forgot. Any who back to the original and best…

Carpenter opens with a fantastic quote from one of the father’s of modern horror Edgar Allen Poe, “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?” This happens to be one of my favorite Poe quotes and suits the story that follows to a tee. In the first scene we’re tantalized with the ghostly legend of the Elizabeth Dane, a ship that had crashed on the rocks at Spivey Point, a hundred years previous, as told by an elderly sea captain (played by the late, great John Houseman) to a group of  kids setting around a fire on the beach. Houseman was an exquisite actor whose raspy voice made the hairs on the back of neck stand straight up when I was a kid. Not much has changed. The man had a way of mesmerizing you with that voice and that intense gaze would make you feel guilty even if you did nothing. 🙂

Having set up the origin of the ghost story, Father Malone (the incredible Hal Holbrook) is introduced,  a priest who seems to enjoy the communion wine just a bit more than is appropriate. Don’t blink during this scene or you’ll miss a cameo by Carpenter himself as the church handyman (all big fluffy hair and bell-bottoms that scream 1980). As the clock strikes midnight, April 21st rolls into the town of Antonio Bay with a stirring of what lies ahead for the townspeople as they prepare to celebrate the town’s centennial.

Unlike most of Carpenter’s work The Fog relies more on suspense than what you see in the blood and gore department. The opening sequences introduce us to a handful of characters including Father Malone who we follow as the story unfolds; Stevie Wayne, the local disc jockey; Nick Castle, owner of a small local fishing vessel; Elizabeth Solley, a hitchhiker Nick picks up and beds; Kathy Williams, the town mayor, and Sandy, her assistant.

A minor tremor rocks the town, revealing a journal and something else buried in the church’s basement wall. The journal, a hundred years old, reveals what appears to be a warning dated April 30thMidnight ‘til one belongs to the dead. Good Lord deliver us. Numerous mechanical things go haywire as well; pay phones ringing, lights flickering on, cars engines coming to life, car alarms going off, etc. announcing the arrival of something sinister and supernatural.

As the story unfolds, we learn that the town of Antonio Bay has a dark secret, hidden by the founding fathers that no one has suspected in a hundred years. During the hour between midnight and one, the first night, the fisherman of the Sea Grass discover themselves trapped in a mysterious icy fog bank that rolls up out of nowhere. Their boat goes dead in the water and something emerges from the fog; a ship that shouldn’t be there followed by a group of shadowy figures. Stevie, the disc jockey, is the only one to witness the unnatural behavior of the fog, including the fact it seems to glow, that night from the lonely lighthouse where she broadcasts from to Antonio Bay. As the clock strikes one the fog vanishes without a trace.

The following day Father Malone tries to talk the mayor out of going through with the centennial celebration after revealing to her the secret hidden for the past century—a conspiracy involving murder, greed, and six of the founding fathers of the town including Malone’s own grandfather. She refuses to reveal this information and continues with the plans despite his warnings that the town is cursed.

During the course of the day, each of the main players experience occurrences that border from the unexplained to the out and out supernatural including the discovery of the Seagrass and one of her crew who apparently drowned, but not before his eyes were gouged out.

Stevie acts as the binding between the various other characters warning them of the fog that rolls in as the sun sets and the things hidden within it. Adrienne Barbeau who plays Stevie (better known for her breasts, any guy who came of age in the 1970’s will tell you) does an excellent job of being a single mother separated from and terrified for her child. Her fear and strength in the situation she discovers herself in is real and palpable. Soon the celebration turns into a fight for survival as what lurks in the fog steps foot on dry land for the first time in a hundred years to seek vengeance.

The Fog although dated is beautifully done in palettes of blues and grays during the night scenes a harsh contrast to the beautiful sunny daylight scenes. The special effects team use all the tricks at their disposal (remember this was 1980) to give the fog an intelligence that it shouldn’t possess as it rolls into town destroying phone lines and cutting power. Carpenter scored the movie as well and the music heightens the sense of danger with a throbbing rhythm that rises and falls through out, highlighted by an eerie undertone that reminds me of the hum of katydids or peepers out in the countryside of my childhood.

If you’re a fan of Carpenter’s early work, a lover of classic ghost stories that rely more on suspense than gore then The Fog is your kind of movie—dated or not. I suggest you sleep with the light on afterward though and you might not want to answer if a knock comes at your door in the night. It might be The Fog

Final Rating: 4/5 Fox Pups


Rating System:

5 Fox Pups – Must See/Can’t Miss

4 Fox Pups – Excellent

3 Fox Pups – Good

2 Fox Pups – Passable

1 Fox Pups – Skip It

Transgenders Workplace Struggles

Her Name Was Steven has lit CNN with a new buzz while today’s new topic became about Transgenders in the work place.  While the person speaking had a positive experience, it made me think of someone who didn’t.

Back in the late 90’s, I worked at a (Nameless) Warehouse. Now, when I got the job I admit to being very surprised because they did seem to be an equal opportunity employer. Where I live and during that time, very rare. There seemed to be an equal eclectic mix of all races, all genders, and many, MANY different lifestyles.

However, after two years being into the job, a guy I will call Tim, but we actually nicknamed Skittles, came to work making an announcement. He explained openly to everyone, “I am going to live as a woman for a year so I can have an operation to BE a woman.” And from that moment on, Tim asked us to refer to him as a HER, and call her (we will say) Sarah.

I thought AWESOME for her and what better place to work at then one who had an eclectic mix of peoples…gay, bi, straight, and so on!

Sarah was bursting with excitement and VERY open and willing to answer ALL questions. Me and a girlfriend even made plans to have her over to my apartment one night so we could give her a new makeover, color her hair, go on a shopping spree and so forth. I really thought Sarah had found her bit of happiness and why not…she was on the top of the world about to be what her heart wanted.

Unfortunately, even though the Warehouse seemed like an open place to work by all races, lifestyles, and faiths …once Sarah stepped out of her closet, all hell broke lose. Guys became REAL paranoid about Sarah hitting on ‘them’. Some girls, not many, began slandering and gossiping, as if Sarah threatened them in some way. Then a week or so after Sarah’s announcement, the GL’s (Supervisors) called each department into a private room for meetings without ‘Sarah’, asking how everyone was feeling about it and so on.

I remember sitting in the closed off room thinking, this meant trouble. Something inside said that they were trying to find reason to get rid of Sarah and if too many people had a problem with her, then there ya go.

Not one woman said a word but boy did the guys start spewing crazy stuff like, “I don’t want to be hit on.” and “this is too distracting, so many gossiping about this.” and whatever other foolishness came to their minds.

When the GL looked at me, I corrected every single one of their so-called problems by calmly pointing out how ridiculous they were. I even said, “And no one has to worry Sarah hitting on them since she’s a Lesbian and has no interest in men.” The room became real quiet but the snarkiness stopped or so I thought.

A few months later, Sarah was fired for supposedly knocking over some boxes and “not reporting it”. Sarah happened to be one of the highest quota makers in the Warehouse. She had worked there for two years and hadn’t even missed a day of work. We all knew her firing was bull and a cover up.

Unfortunately, I never saw Sarah again and I soon quit the Warehouse too. CNN’s spotlight on Transgender issues made me think of her after all these years.

I once thought…

keeping secrets, hiding in the dark, is what fueled trouble, speculation, and paranoia. Sarah’s open approach, preparing all of ‘us’ for what she was about to go through… a change…trying to save us from wondering, speculating, or being paranoid…trying to ease our minds when she was the one on the verge of such change…

Well it didn’t save her or make us more comfortable, did it? And that’s what she was more concerned with…making her transition more comfortable for everyone else who knew her, because believe me, that girl was so happy and on so much of a natural high that when the ugliness started, it never even phased her.

I hope Sarah got her operation and found a job that could move past the personal stuff and focus on how productive her skills were and how dependable she was.

I hope Sarah/Skittles found her rainbow….

C.H. Scarlett

Ogham – Nuin: Ash

Nuin, the Ash tree, has its Ogham moon from 18 Feb – 17 Mar.

This picture from Wilson’s almanac gives you some good reference points to identify it. the lower picture is of a most impressive ash tree at Brannbolstad, with a 4.7m girth, that I found on the Woodland Trust site.

Ash is the tree of rebirth. It is also the tree of Gwydion who is the master enchanter of Britain.

Rebirth is about regeneration, revival, a new start or beginning, revival, resurgence, reawakening. Resurgence is especially interesting as it comes from the word “surge” meaning to gush, pour forth, rise, well up, spill over and such, and rebirth can involve all of these.

The great ash tree, Yggdrasil, of the Nordic tradition is also the World Tree. It is sacred to Odin, as well as Gwydion, and used as Odin’s steed. The 3 Norns of the Scandinavian traditions – who are also another face of the Triple Goddess – dispensed justice under the ash tree. In Greece the ash was sacred to Poseidon, god of the sea, ocean, earthquakes and horses. In Wales and Ireland all oars and coracle slats were made of ash to protect against drowning.

Ash is also the very best wood for making a fire. In it’s fire role, ash is a creator/destroyer tree, a tree that carries the essence of “power” – that part of the Triskele that is the life-spark. Note too … its name is ASH … the result of burning … what does this tell you?

Ash is a transmutation tree, helping us walk across the worlds. This is one of the reasons ash is often used as the wood for all the ogham staves, to help the user walk between worlds.

  • If you’d like to learn more about the Ogham click here

What do we teach them?

Most pagans don’t proselytise or recruit. Many folk find their way to paganism as part of a process in which they have rejected more rigid faiths. Most pagans dislike authority and dogma. So while people of other faiths seem perfectly at ease teaching their children religion as fact, pagan folk often find this area a minefield.

Raising a child as a pagan denies them freedom of choice and risks plying them with dogma – an abhorrent thought. However, paganism is not just a religion for whipping out at a few key festivals, so how do you handle offspring in a pagan household? Keeping them out seems just as wrong as indoctrinating. I’m going to offer some approaches, and would be delighted to hear how others handle it, so do please leave comments. I think the important thing to focus on is values.

Green ethics. Paganism is nature based spirituality. Teaching children about the natural world, how to respect it, and take care of it is a great way of sharing pagan practise without having to touch on the subject of belief. Whatever they choose to believe, planet centred ethics are a good thing to explore. Teach them about recycling, energy conservation, the importance of re-using. Help them learn to recognise plants and animals. Make them conscious of their own impact and help them make good choices about how they live.

Philosophy. Most children love asking ‘why?’ This creates wonderful opportunities to talk with them about life, the universe and everything. Once they start asking all the big awkward questions, there’s scope to flag up all the things people don’t have answers for. Invite them to think about how they imagine it all works. If they need input, try and offer a range of perspectives – as with life after death. Some people believe in an afterlife, some that you just stop being, others in re-incarnation. Help them explore what makes sense to them.

Rules. I know a lot of parents have rules for their children. My son and I try to have as few as possible, and to discuss what they should be, working them out together rather than my dictating. This helps develop free thinking, individuality and personal discipline. A rule a child has understood and helped create is far more likely to be respected than something forced upon them. It’s about engaging with society, beginning on the family scale, understanding justice, and why rules are sometimes needed. You can help a child develop their own sense of honour this way.

Respect. Now, I think respect should be a core value passed on to all children – respect for themselves, for others, for the planet, for all life. However, being around other people’s children, I don’t get the impression many are taught to consciously explore this issue. Again it’s a good ‘non-belief’ issue that will equip a child for life as a pagan should they go that way and will stand them if they don’t. Self respect makes such a lot of difference, so many adults don’t have it. Show children how you treat yourself with respect. Make it clear when you are treating them with respect, and share treating other life forms with respect. It’s a very powerful process and worth making as overt as you possibly can.

Share the stories. Pre-Christian faiths are rich with folklore. Share the myths with them. If they are drawn to being pagan, this will serve them well, and if they aren’t, then a good store of tales will not harm them. Roman, Greek, Viking and Egyptian mythology is fascinating stuff, for those in Europe. If you’re further afield, look for tales that connect to your land, or your personal heritage. Share the stories of your ancestors, so the child knows who they are. Where you can, share stories of your own pagan experiences. Explain what you do and why, and how it makes you feel. That way they can understand you better. Tell them other stories too, from any other faiths and groups you are aware of, so that they have something to compare their own tales with.

They may choose to be pagans, they may not. Either way, they will be conscious, rooted, informed people, and that will serve them well in life.