The Fog

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Starring Tom Welling, Maggie Grace, and Selma Blair. Rated 14A. For showtimes, please see page 70

In the past few years, Hollywood has been shamelessly pounding out remakes of famous horror flicks, with varying results. In the case of retreads like The Ring, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, and House of Wax, at least the filmmakers had worthy sources to draw from. But now it's gotten to the point where they're redoing fright flicks that were no great shakes to begin with. I mean, The Fog? Come on! The only memorable thing about that was the ooh-la-la factor of Adrienne Barbeau. Or maybe I'm confusing it with Swamp Thing. Either way, there's no good reason for another rendition of John Carpenter's 1980 film about the ghosts of drowned lepers seeking revenge on the inhabitants of a seaside California town.

This time around, the setting is the fictional Oregon fishing community of Antonio Bay, but it's actually our own Bowen Island. So there are numerous aerial shots of the picturesque Bowen, as well as Horseshoe Bay and West Van's Lighthouse Park. But the thrill of seeing those familiar sites on the big screen is far outweighed by the pain involved in sitting through this silly and suspenseless mess.

Tom Welling, the Clark Kent of TV's locally shot Smallville, stars as the hunky, all-American Nick Castle, who's missing his girlfriend, Elizabeth (Maggie Grace of TV's Lost), but coping by boinking Stevie (Selma Blair), a single mom who's the sassy DJ at a radio station that doubles as a lighthouse. We learn via flashbacks that in 1871 a quartet of evil Antonio Bay men, the town's founding fathers, ripped off a bunch of lepers, then left them to die in their burning clipper. During the slaughter, a small sack of artifacts sank to the bottom of the sea, and when we first encounter Castle in the present, the fishing boat he charters gets its heavy anchor snagged on the wee sack. Right then it's obvious that The Fog is one of those films where you're expected to suspend your level of disbelief at unbelievable heights.

The rest of the movie revolves around shots of heavy, fast-rolling fog engulfing the island town and incessant pounding on residents' doors as the vengeful spirits of the lepers come to call. The embattled Castle does his heroic best to save everyone-including Elizabeth, who hitchhikes back from New York to look hot in baby-doll PJs-but folks get sucked through windows and burned alive all the same.

The Fog is dedicated to the memory of coproducer Debra Hill, who passed away last March, prior to the start of filming. Her résumé has included writing and/or producing such stellar genre works as Halloween, The Dead Zone, and Escape From New York. It's unfortunate that her career swan song is so frighteningly forgettable.