The Fog

  • Review Date: September 19, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1980
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Not much gore, but still too intense for kids.
  • Review Date: September 19, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1980
  • Running Time: 90 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's no one you would want your kid imitating.


Indiscriminate killing by swords and gaffing-hooks, and victims including a grandmotherly old-lady babysitter. One dead body seems to have had its eyes poked out. No extreme blood-spatter gore, at least.


Hitchhiker Elizabeth and motorist Nick are shown in bed together the morning after they meet. Other men make mildly suggestive remarks about their attractions to Stevie.


The F-word is uttered once.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of beer consumed, and Pastor Malone is an alcoholic.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has violence, as ghostly sea zombies slash into living folks with their cutlasses. This happens in quick "shock" edits, which 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. The movie is still too violent for kids and tweens.

Parents say

Kids say

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 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 just 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's also got ridiculous and logic-defying details 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 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 violence, sex, and profanity, The Fog could pass for a "Goosebumps"-style chiller strictly for youngsters, like the campfire ghost story that opens the narrative.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the victims in this movie seem particularly innocent and remote from the foul deed of their ancestors. You could talk about this and the Biblical idea of "the sins of the fathers" and apply it to real events. Putting aside the killer undead lepers for a while, should people a century in the future be held accountable for such atrocities as Pearl Harbor? The Holocaust? September 11? Slavery?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 20, 1980
DVD release date:August 9, 2003
Cast:Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh
Director:John Carpenter
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence

This review of The Fog was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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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't even matter. So if there was no PG-13, maybe it should have a PG. Seriously, Indiana Jones has more blood than this. But the movie itself was okay, and it had some great scenes.
Teen, 14 years old Written byerick112 July 11, 2009

one of my favorite horror movies ever

one of the best john carpenter movies ever and really violent without showing any blood
Adult Written bydigitex30189 April 9, 2008

Very boring...

This movie is dreadfully boring. There is no redeeming value to it whatsoever. And this is coming from the mouth of a horror movie fanatic. The plot is confusing and difficult to understand, the acting is bad, and the R rating is as deceiving as junk food. There is hardly any violence at all, and, if any, is mostly in shadow, with very little bloodletting, and no originality whatsoever. Note: if you are a fan of slasher flicks, creature features, or any type of horror/thriller/Sci-fi movies, and have heard about this movie, DO NOT WATCH!!! You will be very disappointed. And as for the rating, they should have kept it at PG, since most kids of at least 11 or 12 should be able to handle it.


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