Foggy Notion

It’s a rainy, overcast day in Los Angeles. While there may or may not be actual fog, it feels foggy. On days like this, especially when they crop up unexpectedly in July, I always think of the fictional town of Antonio Bay from John Carpenter‘s classic 1980 film The Fog.

Antonio Bay was supposed to be located in Northern California, although the film was shot mainly in Altadena (near Los Angeles). Carpenter did a great job creating mood, and showing how the arrival of the fog itself physically changed the town. This sunny Californian location suddenly seemed like a chilly New England fishing village.

I’m always on the lookout for other horror films that drip with atmosphere, especially if it’s of the rainy, foggy variety. There are a lot of classic films that open with fantastic shots of old castles in the rain, but it’s harder to find movies that sustain that atmosphere for the entire film. I guess it would be impractical or impossible to have it rain throughout the entire shoot. Still, I know that such films exist, somewhere.

Perhaps you, the reader, have a favorite rainy day Gothic* horror you’d like to share?

I’d like to open this blog up to some interaction. I’ll list a few movies or scenes that capture the “vibe” I’m going for, and if anyone can chime in with further suggestions, that would be great. Feel free to de-lurk, un-stalk, or just plain show up for the first time. Even though this is a relatively tiny and obscure blog, I have been getting some traffic lately, so I know I’m not just howling into the void anymore. Let’s see if we can get at least five different people to add a film to this list.

Here’s mine:

1. The Fog (1980)
The undisputed champion of thick, wet atmosphere. Not even recent outings like The Mist come close (although I did like that one).

2. The Legend of Hell House (1973)
This film has one of the best opening scenes of all time, in my opinion. The arrival of the characters to the famously haunted house is brilliantly filmed, and features an old castle, a black cat, tons of fog, and Roddy McDowall! Sadly, it’s mostly downhill from there.

3. Suspiria (1977)
Another classic intro, as Jessica Harper travels to the Black Forest Academy for Girls (or whatever it’s called) amid torrents of pouring rain. This might be Dario Argento‘s best moment as a visual stylist, as neon lights refract through the sheets of rain and paint the screen in a glorious mockery of Christmas lights. Things go all barbed wire and maggots once she arrives, and I’ve personally always felt that the rest of the movie was a let down. Still, one of the best atmospheric openers to any horror film.

4. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
This is a film that I love from start to finish. But the opening scene on the Moors is almost like a perfect film in and of itself. The scene of David and Jack walking through the rain and fog as unearthly howls get louder and louder around them is both frightening and hilarious. Things get a bit more straightforward once David returns to London, but the opening scene (filmed in Wales) remains an effective example of Gothic horror atmosphere.

OK, there’s four. Let’s hear some more from the peanut gallery. They can be individual scenes or whole movies. I’m also willing to check out films that stray from my “comfort zone” of 1972 to 1982 (although that was the golden age of horror in my completely subjective opinion).

*Strictly speaking, The Fog may not qualify as Gothic in the traditional literary sense. Someone might need to invent a better word for this type of film. Perhaps “fogthic”?


2 Responses to “Foggy Notion”

  1. There’s nothing really rainy day about it, but I love to watch The Dorm that Dripped Blood on the wetter days of the years. I guess because the first time I saw it, it was pouring outside. It’s a creepy movie, but one I’m not sure I can recommend. It’s mostly for slasher die-hards, it’s got a great downbeat ending…

    • roarvis Says:

      I haven’t seen that one yet. Is it the same movie as Pranks?

      I heard somewhere that they’re making a new DVD with a restored print, so I’ll check it out then.

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