Horrible, Just Horrible – Zombie Night and The Fog (2005)

Zombie Night and The Fog are currently available on instant Netflix.

Zombie Night

 

Zombie Night (2013) – Not rated

As night falls in a small California town, the dead rise from their graves and go looking to feast on the flesh of the living. Two families band together to face a long night of terror, fighting to survive until sunrise.

How about we make a zombie movie? No, everyone has done that already. How about we make a zombie movie starring actors from the 70s and 80s? Brilliant! We’ll pay them a pittance and rake in the money. We won’t even have to pay a screenwriter, these things write themselves.

I cannot believe that three separate people worked on this screenplay and it is still just awful. The dialogue is wooden. The plotting is ridiculous. Yes folks, it’s another Asylum movie.

I gave this one a shot because of the cast. Anthony Michael Hall (Weird Science, The Breakfast Club) and Daryl Hannah (Splash, Blade Runner) are the leads. Asylum didn’t stop there though. Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) puts in an appearance as Joseph. Jennifer Taylor (Two and a Half Men) is Karin.

Sadly they round this off with Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family) as Nana. Shirley Jones is just awful here. It won’t take long for you to root for her character to be eaten. The character is incredibly annoying and this may be the worst performance of an actor playing a blind person that I have ever seen.

It takes a lot for an actor to make an Asylum movie even worse than usual. Kudos and avoid this movie like the zombie plague.

The Fog

 

The Fog (2005) – Rated PG-13

Selma Blair, Tom Welling and Maggie Grace star in this creepy thriller about an island town off the coast of Oregon that’s forced to contend with some unwelcome visitors from its past: the spirits of lepers and sailors aboard a ship that the hamlet’s forefathers had steered astray on purpose. Those aboard the doomed vessel all wound up lost in the fog forever. Now, they’re back from the mist, eager to exact revenge on the descendants of their murderers.

I’m not sure what caused me to revisit this remake after seeing the Robocop reboot in theaters. At least the Jose Padilha was using Robocop to try to say something about our current world of drones and surveillance, even if he did fail.

Rupert Wainwright, director of The Fog remake, has no feel for the source material at all. Neither does Cooper Layne who rewrote/updated the script. Wainwright has not directed a movie since and Layne has no further adapted screenplays.

John Carpenter’s The Fog has flaws. The first act is mostly a random assortment of odd happenings. It doesn’t gel at all well with the final two acts but the final two acts are superb. Almost every choice Layne and Wainwright make to distance himself from Carpenter’s original is a misstep.

The original starred Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, and Adrienne Barbeau. The remake replaces them with Maggie Grace, Tom Welling, and Selma Blair. In supporting roles, the original had John Houseman, Janet Leigh, and Hal Holbrook. In the remake, the supporting roles are toned down and much is turned over to the three young leads.

The most egregious mistake is the special effects. Being 1980, Carpenter was restricted to practical effects – fog machines, lighting, makeup effects. These combine brilliantly. Wainwright opts for really shoddy-looking CGI in spite of having eighteen times the budget Carpenter did. Carpenter had creatures risen from the dead. Wainwright had CGI ghosts.

Carpenter’s third act evolves into a brilliant siege film, something he excelled at, having started his career with Assault on Precinct 13. Wainwright’s third act just kind of lumbers along without any suspense. No spoilers here but Carpenter’s ending is superb, another thing he excels at (The Thing, Halloween). Wainwright/Layne’s will just have you shrugging your shoulders.

The remake of The Fog isn’t truly awful, it is just that there is nothing that it does better than the original. If it were original, it would be forgettable. Since it is a copy, why bother?