There have been numerous takes on the non-meteorologically induced fog and mist-based themes. The Mist by Stephen King does a great job of highlighting both terror from the unknown of the fog, and raised tensions in fear of what may lurk within a community’s paranoid heart. John Carpenter’s movie is a tale of ghostly revenge, with those killed a century before wreaking vengeance from within a fog bank.
Herbert’s The Fog is an exercise in literary terror, as a yellow fog seeps from the ground in rural England following an earthquake, affecting the minds and sanity of all those that encounter it, magnifying their psychotic behaviours and removing any sense of restraint. Soon, innocent and well respected people are turning into killers, torturers and sexually maligned deviants, and it remains for one man to try and uncover what it is that’s causing such a grisly series of events.
Over a decade before the term splatter-punk was coined as a phrase by horror fiction fanatics, Herbert was laying down a fairly decent foundation for his peers to build upon. Though not as decadently expletive as those words weaved by say Poppy Z Brite or Richard Laymon, in The Fog the juxtaposition between the normal and then fog affected individuals and scenes highlights the blood and gore that much more.
With its start in what would no doubt be a tranquil Wiltshire village, the titular fog takes hold and begins its malign transformation of those who come within its grasp. The scenes throughout where such transformation takes place are very creative, several bordering on the depraved (but then that’s the nature of the fog’s effect on the human psyche) and one or two lingered on this reader’s mind for sometime after finishing the book, such was their impact.
The Fog is a most satisfying read, and as an early novel by Herbert is just an early example of one of many great books by the author. I am a huge fan of Herbert’s work – it’s a reason I like the genre so much – and his books set me reading further and wider in the hope of discovering new and wondrous tales of fear and dread along the way.
Writing this review, I grabbed my copy from my bookshelf and re-reading certain paragraphs immediately reconnected me to this creative novel, with its ghoulish narrative, ghastly actions, but likeable characters and solid plot. It’s not an atypical horror novel of the period (published in 1975) but it did more than many others in setting itself apart from the crowd.