Following up his breakthrough hit Halloween, John Carpenter eschewed slasher flick terror in favor of ghost story eeriness with The Fog, an atmospheric tale of the angry undead in which a small California coastal town becomes literally haunted by its past. An ominous fog rolling into Antonio Bay carries with it the sinister spirits of a ship’s leper colony-bound crew who, 100 years ago to the day, drowned in a shipwreck orchestrated by a committee led by the town’s priest. As the malevolent mist makes its way first through a shipping boat’s drunken swabs and then into the town proper, a motley crew of characters – including a promiscuous hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis), the woman (Janet Leigh) planning the community’s centennial celebration, a drunken priest (Hal Holbrook) who knows why the fog has appeared, and a sultry radio DJ (Adrienne Barbeau) trapped in her lighthouse broadcasting studio – vainly attempt to stop whatever mysterious force is hiding in the neon-glowing vapor. By attempting to insert some hack-and-slash moments into what’s essentially a moody E.C. Comics-style campfire tale – highlighted by a fantastic opening scene featuring John Houseman’s recounting of the shipwreck legend – Carpenter’s spine-tingler occasionally feels awkwardly constructed. Nevertheless, his gorgeous 2.35:1 compositions and menacingly languorous pacing create a sense of near-apocalyptic gloom. And as with his thematically rich Assault on Precinct 13, there’s more than just deadly pirate hooks lurking beneath The Fog’s pulpy surface; from his story’s overriding preoccupation with history’s inescapable influence on the present, to the subtle critique of the way in which the church sustains itself through decidedly un-Christian dastardliness, Carpenter’s slow but satisfyingly sinister spookfest reveals a surprising depth.