(director/writer: John Carpenter; screenwriter: Debra Hill; cinematographer: Dean Cundey; editors: Tommy Lee Wallace/Charles Bornstein; music: John Carpenter; cast: Adrienne Barbeau(Stevie Wayne), Hal Holbrook (Father Malone), Janet Leigh (Kathy Williams), Jamie Lee Curtis (Elizabeth Solley), Charles Cyphers (Dan O’Bannon, weatherman), Ty Mitchell (Andy), John Houseman (Mr Machen), Nancy Loomis (Sandy Fadel), Tom Atkins (Nick Castle), Rob Bottin (Blake), John F. Goff (Al Williams); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Debra Hill; AVCO Embassy Pictures (MGM); 1980)
“Though the plot is implausible and the unfolding story hardly makes any sense, Carpenter stylishly presents an eerie atmosphere for the zombie invasion.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Inane, bloodless, supernatural horror pic, with clouds as a sinister menace. John Carpenter(“Halloween”/”Ghosts of Mars”/ “Vampires”) directs, using shocking special effects and co-writes with producer Debra Hill. It results in awell-crafted pic that is more weird than scary.
The small northern California fishing village of Antonio Bay is celebrating its centenary, but at the stroke of midnight strange things start to happen– stones fall out of walls or pay telephones start to ring or car alarms sound off or clocks stop, and that’s followed by an enveloping fog. The John Houseman character, just before midnight, tells the local youngsters, as they sit around a campfire, tales about the curse that surrounds their coastal town, where a horrible shipwreck took place 100 years ago. A moldy diary is discovered in the church that tells about the past atrocities, that has the drunken tortured priest (Hal Holbrook) cry out against honoring the murderers. We learn of a leper colony slaughtered by the town’s greedy founders 100 years ago. Their ship, the Elizabeth Dane, carrying gold and intending to deliver to this location a colony of lepers was purposely guided to the rocks off Arkham Point by the greedy town founders and all crew members died in the wreck. We are led to believe the ship’s captain, Blake (Rob Bottin, makeup artist on the set), and his crew have come out of the fog to return as zombies to reclaim their gold and punish their killers.
Though the plot is implausible and the unfolding story hardly makes any sense, Carpenter stylishly presents an eerie atmosphere for the zombie invasion.
Adrienne Barbeau (Carpenter’s real-life wife) plays the husky-voiced late-night DJ in the lighthouse, who warns her audience about the invasion. Characters of interest in the many subplots include a truck driver (Tom Atkins) and the hitchhiker art student (Jamie Lee Curtis) he gives a ride to; there’s also Janet Leigh (Jamie’s real mom), whose hard-headed character is conducting the centennial celebration for the town and seems unfazed her hubby has vanished.
REVIEWED ON 10/25/2014 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/