I got lucky with these two movies. Both were very good and I will likely want to watch them again sometime.
The Fog, a John Carpenter movie from 1980, is one that for some reason, I always assumed would be bad. It just never looked like my kinda movie, despite being directed by John Carpenter and the presence of the lovely Jamie Lee Curtis. But Stacie Ponder at Final Girl always raves about it and to be honest, all of the movies I've put on my netflix list for this week are movies that she's mentioned. Anyhoo, all that blather aside, I discovered that The Fog is actually a quite good horror movie.
One of the things I found most effective in this movie is the unhurried aspect. It takes its time building up to the evil fog and the evil denizens lurking therein. It takes time to let you actually start to care about the characters and root for them. (As opposed to some really bad slashers where you're just waiting for them all to die already) Also, when the evil denizens show up, they're kind of vaguely unseen. You never really get a good look at them, and sometimes that makes the monsters much scarier.
In our world of CGI monsters and such, sometimes the more you can see, the more you can see just how fake it all is. When it's left up to the imagination more, you don't see just how bad the computer work is or how suddenly it's a dummy and not an actual person.
Also: Tom Atkins! Adrienne Barbeau!! Hal Fucking Holbrook!! Jamie Lee!! Oh, and Nancy Loomis!! (aka Annie from Halloween) Nancy Loomis is a terrible actress, but dammit, I don't care. And another thing about this movie: After starting the movie, I didn't even look at the clock until it was almost an hour in. Normally when I watch movies on a weeknight, and I'm planning to watch something on the telly at a certain time, I can't help but glance frequently at the clock. The last time I remember that happening was when I watched Thirst, the Korean movie by Chan-Wook Park. There's something hypnotic about the movie, the slow build and the real tension.
So, yeah. Awesome movie. Too bad I didn't see earlier in my horror movie watching career, cuz I think it would have scared the shit outta me. It's harder for a movie to really get under my skin now, although this one tried.
Just Before Dawn (1981)
I dunno, I get the feeling that this one must have gotten lost in the shuffle of early '80's slasher movies, cuz why the hell didn't I know about it? It's a kind of mixture of such movies as Wrong Turn and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (freaks in the woods) and standard Friday the 13th slasher movies. It features a very young Gregg Henry, who I think I first saw in the Mel Gibson movie Payback, and more recently from the F/X TV show The Riches. Also featured was George Kennedy, a park ranger who kinda wants to let these stoopid teenagers die from their stoopidity, but just can't do it.
I don't really want to say more than that, because this is just a really good movie. The bad guy quite creeped me out because he kind of looks like Casey from the Tim and Eric show:
*shudder* I'm sure the killer dude didn't really look that much like Casey, but it still creeped me out cuz Casey and his Brother are always one of my least favorite Tim and Eric bits. Actually, after finding a cover image for the DVD, the killer looks more like Casey's brother. He kind of looks like a mixture of Tim and Eric.
Anyway, good flick! And if you're in the woods and George Kennedy tells you to not go any further into the woods, you might want to listen to him!!