The Fog

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
The Fog Movie Poster Image
'80s horror has intense peril, lots of scares.
  • R
  • 1980
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 14 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive role messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 


While not as violent as other John Carpenter movies and most horror movies overall, there's still frequent horror movie violence and peril. Indiscriminate killing by swords and gaffing hooks, and victims include an elderly babysitter. One dead body seems to have had its eyes poked out. Out of nowhere, a rock smashes the windshield of a truck after the man driving it has picked up a hitchhiker. 


Hitchhiker Elizabeth and motorist Nick are shown in bed together the morning after they meet. Other men make suggestive remarks about their attractions to Stevie. Disc jockey lead character makes deliberate innuendo, talk of being "high" up in the broadcast tower, and hoping the audience is "turned on." 


"F--k" uttered once. Infrequent profanity: "s--t," "a--hole," "hell." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Three characters on a boat are shown binge-drinking beer and acting drunk -- stumbling, slurred speech. A priest is shown drunk on wine. Man shown drinking beer while driving his truck. Beer and whiskey drinking in a bar. Cigarette smoking. Pipe smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Fog is a 1980 horror movie directed by John Carpenter in which a mysterious fog wreaks havoc on a beach town. While the violence is nothing like the violence in other horror movies or other John Carpenter movies, it does have moments of horror movie violence and peril. Ghostly sea zombies slash into living folks with swords and grappling hooks. The murders generally avoid gore and blood, but the quick "shock" edits are careful to leave the worst of it to your imagination. Still, the director's favorite trick seems to be a nice, shiny blade suddenly popping out of a victim who's been run clean through. Characters are shown binge-drinking and acting drunk with slurring speech, stumbling. Cigarette and pipe smoking are seen. A man and a woman are shown in bed together the morning after the man picked up the woman while she was hitchhiking. There's infrequent profanity, with "f--k" used once. The disc jockey lead character makes deliberate innuendo, with talk of being "high" up in the broadcast tower and hoping that the audience is "turned on." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byResidentkidd September 28, 2020

Spooky Ghost story.

Not often do you get a really good Ghost story that's both chilling and engrossing.

John Carpenters classic tale tells the story of a centuries old ships... Continue reading
Adult Written byJeff A. August 12, 2019

A Good Ghost Story

John Carpenter's The Fog is pretty tame compared to some of his other films such as Halloween and The Thing. This film really should have gotten a PG ratin... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byQwerty_25 May 20, 2018

Favorite horror movie ever

This movie is great but is sorta creepy. If your child is sensitive DO NOT let them watch this movie. If your child is mature you could let them watch this if t... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bycheese-process April 23, 2011
This movie was made in 1980, which is before PG-13 existed. But there was no blood at all, brief language, and anything sexual was so minor that it doesn'... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE FOG, an old sailor (John Houseman) tells spellbound boys of a shipwreck 100 years earlier, and the restless dead mariners at the bottom of the sea. The yarn turns out to be a whitewash of what really did happen here, with the terrible truth revealed as the community looks forward to celebrating its hundredth anniversary. At the stroke of midnight, glass breaks all over town, and walls tremble. Out at sea a trawler is surrounded in weird, glowing fog. Fishermen on board see a ghost ship and are slain by its ragged, shadowy crew bearing cutlasses. At the town church, hard-drinking Pastor Malone (Hal Holbrook) finds an old diary that says an island colony plagued with the dreaded disease leprosy was planning to move to the shore and paid the founders of Antonio Bay in gold for the privilege. However, six prominent townspeople lit a false signal fire on the beach so that the ship would wreck on the rocks instead. Now, the dead are back for revenge, to claim the lives of six locals -- or whomever they can  get their claws on.

Is it any good?

Fog of a different sort seems to have muddled the shapeless script, co-written by director John Carpenter. Though The Fog has a few bona fide jump-out-of-your-seat moments, it also has ridiculous and logic-defying details that viewers of any age should see right through. Sometimes the living dead materialize wherever the fog seeps in, sometimes a locked door or window stops them, and there are more silly things that most kids will pick up on.

In-joke character names are derived from horror movies/literature and John Carpenter's moviemaking associates (Arthur Machen, Dr. Phibes, Dan O'Bannon), but the talented cast, in thinly sketched roles, plays things entirely straight-faced, unlike later horror movies where dark humor was abundantly added to the terror. The movie ends on a rather grim note of inevitable fate that's like the slam of a coffin lid. If it had a little less mature content, The Fog could pass for a Goosebumps-style chiller strictly for youngsters, like the campfire ghost story that opens the narrative.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about horror movie violence. Unlike in many horror movies, the most graphic moments of killing are edited out and left to the viewer's imagination. Is it scarier to leave out the gory moments, or is it scarier if the movie graphically shows someone being killed? 

  • How was the element of surprise used to create moments of suspense? 

  • As a movie from 1980, what did you notice in terms of cultural differences between then and now -- with drinking and smoking, for instance? 

  • Have you seen the 2005 version? How does this compare?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scary movies

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