Just before midnight on the centenary of Antonio Bay, an old salt (John Houseman) sits telling spooky stories to a bunch of kids on the beach. He wraps up with the tale of the Elizabeth Dane, a ship that ran aground in the fog when the captain steered a course toward a campfire on the shore, resulting in the death of the entire crew. Fishermen believe that when the fog returns to the town, the drowned men will rise and seek their revenge
Over in the local church, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) discovers his grandfather’s diary, which reveals that, 100 years ago, six founders of the town deliberately lured a leprosy-infected ship onto the rocks and stole all the gold on board. That ship was the Elizabeth Dane.
The legend of vengeful seafarers turns out to be true. A thick fog bank rolls in from the ocean, bringing with it a crew of waterlogged zombies intent on taking six lives in place of the six original conspirators who sank their ship. Late-night DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau) tries to keep the town abreast of the deadly situation from her lighthouse studio.
“The Fog” has its fair share of shocks and kills, but it works best when it emulates the cozy chills of an old-school ghost story. Carpenter’s sparse score helps get the nerves jangling and Dean Cundey’s excellent cinematography keeps us searching the corners of the frame for the next sign of supernatural danger. If I have one major criticism, it’s that the cast (apart from Barbeau) doesn’t really have much to do. Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Tom Atkins all show up, but find themselves twiddling their thumbs while the ghostly sailors get busy hacking and slashing.