The Mist

Interesting fact: “Mist” in German, means “crap.” Luckily, unlike many a Stephen King adaptation, this one is anything but.

The Mist is a loving tribute to the 60s creature feature, with Frank Darabount (who directed the King-lyThe Green Mile/The Shawshank Redemption) helming a character-driven insider-outsider dynamic set in Maine (of course) against the backdrop of a grocery store, of all places.

Clean up in aisle 3!

While the tentacles in the promotional collateral betray a more nautical feel, it’s actually Lovecraftian pterodactyl thing-ies that scare the bejeezus out of the townsfolk (some of them, that is. There’s a fire and brimstone preacher lady, played by Marcia Gay Harden, who won’t be swayed and is determined to usher in Armageddon).

The plot is full-on 60s sci fi: not only are there weird and wonderful creatures, there is a strange and secret military experiment being conducted. Camo trucks are driving through town by the dozens. What in god’s name is going on? This is compounded by a strange and bizarre, not to mention scary, weather system, enough to make Al Roker crap his pants (Google that and “White House” if you want some unpleasant reading).

The system is hiding the aforementioned creatures, and dueling groups of townsfolk hunker down in the store, using their wits to do battle with one another, and the creatures, who reproduce themselves by bursting forth smaller creatures from human cocoon cavities, a la Alien. Grossly good stuff.

Toby Jones is once again excellent as the grocery manager, and unlikely hero, along with the more stoic doting dad Thomas Jane. Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is well-cast in the thankless role of resident skeptic/creature luncheon meat.

Stephen King’s vision is both cynical and revelatory, taking potshots at pomo and religious thinking alike.

The Mist, however, has an ending that is seriously downbeat, and would be even by the very dour 70s. Some viewers take umbrage with what they see as a narrative cop out, but it actually adds to the gritty nihilism not too dissimilar from Night of the Living Dead.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast of The Mist]

Kirk Hammett collection at the ROM

If you didn’t think your love of horror could be amplified, Kirk Hammett’s collection at the Royal Ontario Museum will dial it up to 11.

The Metallica guitarist flew in from Moscow (and boy, were his arms tired… probably needs a rest before ripping out two-handed tapping solos) and was in Toronto for a sold out discussion about It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art From The Kirk Hammett Collection

In a talk moderated by exhibit co-creator Dan Finamore, a curator at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, Hammett admitted that he misses his collection, generating knowing chuckles from his fellow traveller nerds. And miss ’em, he should. This exhibit warrants another visit, as the authors of this site already miss ’em. This is essential viewing for horror sci-fi heads, and one need look no further than below.

This exhibition explores Hammett’s significant collection and “examines the connection between artistry, emotion, and popular culture through a selection of works from 20th-century cinema,” according to the site.

Favorites include a mind-blowing Swedish art deco poster for Metropolis, and Boris Karloff’s Mummy (above).

There’s a sensational  promotional piece for Invasion of the Saucer Men, that is literally out of this world. And perhaps the showstopper is a couple of gorgeous Bride of Frankenstein pieces.

The Hammett collection runs until Jan. 5, 2020. Check out our Really Awful Movies Podcast Kirk Hammett episode!