Another Descent Into...
The night before the town's celebration, a group of children are entertained by a ghost story, told by 'old' Mr. Machen (exactly at the stroke of midnight), the resident elderly fisherman. The story being told is indicative of the history of the town's formation, which is being discovered at that exact moment by the local priest, Father Malone, when he finds the diary of his grandfather (who was also the town's priest). The diary later reveals a dark secret unknown to the current inhabitants where, in 1880, six of the founders of Antonio Bay (including Malone's grandfather) deliberately sank and plundered the Elizabeth Dane, a clipper ship owned by Blake, a wealthy man with leprosy who wanted to establish a colony near Antonio Bay. The six conspirators lit a fire on the beach near treacherous rocks, and the crew of the clipper, deceived by the false beacon, crashed into them. Everyone aboard the ship perished. The six conspirators were motivated both by greed and disgust at the notion of having a leper colony nearby. Antonio Bay and its church were then founded with the gold plundered from the ship.
The mysterious fog contains the vengeful ghosts of Blake and the clipper's crew, who have come back on the hundredth anniversary of the shipwreck and the founding of the town to take the lives of six people (symbolic substitutes for the six conspirators).
This same night, three local fishermen, Al Williams, Tommy Wallace, and Dick Baxter, are gruesomely murdered by supernatural attackers after the fog covers their boat. Just prior to their deaths, Al and Tommy are standing on the deck of the boat and can see a ghostly looking ship pulling along side theirs, through the dense, but glowing fog.
At the same time, Nick Castle drives down a country road and picks up a hitchhiker called Elizabeth. While the two drive towards town, the radio and headlights of the car start to fail, as the windows of the truck are blown out. At the same time, various odd phenomena begin to happen around the sleeping town (chairs move, television sets turn themselves on, gas stations seemingly come to life).
A short time later, Nick and Elizabeth have arrived at Nick's coastal home and are relaxing when a heavy knock is heard at the door. Making his way to open the glass, front door, Nick sees an odd light shining outside, illuminating a shadowy figure. The clock strikes 1AM, and it's face suddenly cracks, just as Nick opens the door, only to see there is no one there, and the fog has dissipated.
The following morning, while in her bungalow next to the beach, the local radio DJ Stevie Wayne is lying in bed when her young son, Andy, returns to the house showing her a broken plank of wood he has discovered. It reads "DANE." Intrigued by the piece, Stevie keeps it and takes it with her to the lighthouse, where she is preparing for her next show and listening to various promotional tapes for her station. Stevie sets the plank on top of the tape player that is playing the promotional spots, and while she is momentarily distracted, the plank begins to seep water. The water spreads and causes the tape player to short. Suddenly, Blake's voice emerges from the tape player swearing revenge, the words "Six Must Die" appear on the plank, and the plank bursts into flames. A shocked Stevie immediately extinguishes the fire. Afterwards, Stevie checks the plank only to find that it once again reads "DANE."
Nick and Elizabeth search the boat where the fishermen were killed, and Elizabeth finds the eyeless corpse of Dick Baxter, the youngest of the three fishermen. They then take Baxter's body to the local coroner's office to be examined by Dr. Phibes. Phibes, who is perplexed by the body's advanced state of decomposition, takes Nick aside to ask him about the circumstances of the body's discovery and leaves Elizabeth alone in the autopsy room with Baxter's corpse. The body becomes momentarily re-animated, rises from the steel autopsy table, grabs a scalpel, and walks over to Elizabeth. As Baxter's corpse moves closer to Elizabeth, she screams, and the body drops to the floor, lifeless once again. Elizabeth's screams bring Nick and Phibes rushing back into the autopsy room, where they see that the corpse has scratched the number "3" into the floor with the scalpel.
The Antonio Bay centennial celebration begins in the center of town. At the same time, Dan, the local weatherman, and Stevie talk over the phone. Stevie expresses her apprehension about the strange glowing fog that is moving toward the town. Dan then hears a knock at the weather station's door and leaves Stevie on the phone while he goes to answer it. Dan is killed when he opens the door and one of the ghosts impales him through the throat with a hook, and Stevie listens in horror.
As Stevie begins her radio broadcast, the ghosts of the fog cut the town's phone lines and electricity. Stevie begs her listeners to go to her house and save her son when she sees the fog roll up to it. Nick and Elizabeth hear this and go to help. Meanwhile, a strange knock comes at the door of Stevie's home. The elderly babysitter goes to answer it and tells Andy to go to his room. When she opens the door, the ghosts emerge from the fog and impale her on their swords and hooks; they then turn their attention to Andy. However, Nick arrives just in time to save him, escaping with Andy in his car.
As the celebration comes to an end, Kathy and her assistant drive home in the same car. When they turn on the radio they hear Stevie repeatedly telling people to stay away from the fog as it is dangerous. When the fog appears, they drive away from it. They then hear Stevie saying the only safe place is the church, which they go to. Nick, Elizabeth and Andy hear the same message and they too go to the church. They all meet in the church as well as Father Malone, and they hide in the small back room. While they are in the room Kathy and Father Malone find the stolen gold, which has been melted into a cross. Blake's ghost and his crew begin to break into the room. Knowing he is the offspring of the last conspirator, Father Malone confronts the ghosts with the golden cross in an attempt to sacrifice himself and save everyone else.
Back at the lighthouse several of the ghosts try to attack Stevie. She climbs onto the roof with the ghosts in hot pursuit. The ghosts slowly close in on her and get ready to attack.
Inside the church, Blake's ghost seizes the golden cross, which begins to emit an eerie glow. The church rumbles as the light emanating from the cross becomes brighter and brighter. Nick manages to pull Father Malone away from the cross only seconds before it disappears, along with Blake's ghost, in a blinding flash of light and a thunderclap. The apparent demise of Blake's ghost causes the other ghosts to disappear as well. The fog also vanishes, and it appears that the townspeople are saved. Later that evening, Father Malone is alone in the church. In a moment of guilt, he asks himself, "Why not me, Blake?". At that moment the fog reappears, along with Blake and his men. Blake swings his sword at Father Malone's head, decapitating him, as the screen fades to black.
This movie works for because, while the kill scenes are sparse to begin with, there is a tension, a dark atmosphere reminescent of black and white horror films. There are some great jump scares, Jo definitely leaped in the right places so I knew it would work for me. The ghosts are shot mostly in shadow or against a foggy backdrop making these killers creppy and dark. Perfect, if you ask me.
The only real problem I saw was how Adrienne, playing a radio dj in this film, could see what was going on with the fog when no one was calling in and she was broadcasting at her lighthouse radio station along the shore and of course the tacked -on it's-not-really-over final scene. Needless to say this movie was remade in 2005 and features Smallville's Tom Welling and Maggie Grace in the starring roles. I haven't seen it and I have no plans to see it. Just do yourself a favor and watch the original, I think you'll enjoy a bloodless horror film.
V-A first season review