Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter
Produced by: Debra Hill
Other cast: Adrienne Barbeau, John Houseman, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Nancy Loomis
Release date: February 8, 1980
Running time: 90 Minutes
As the coastal town of Antonio Bay, California is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary, paranormal activity begins occurring at midnight. Town priest Father Malone discovers his grandfather’s diary at the church after a piece of masonry falls from the wall, and the journal reveals that in 1880, the six founders of Antonio Bay (including Malone’s grandfather) deliberately sank a clipper ship named the Elizabeth Dane, so that its wealthy, leprosy-afflicted owner Blake would not establish a leper colony nearby. The conspirators used gold plundered from the ship to found the town.
Meanwhile, three fishermen are out at sea when a strange, glowing fog envelops their trawler. The fog brings with it the Elizabeth Dane, carrying the vengeful revenants of Blake and his crew who kill the fishermen. Meanwhile, town resident Nick Castle is driving home and picks up a young hitchhiker named Elizabeth Solley. As they drive towards town, all the truck’s windows inexplicably shatter.
The following morning, local radio DJ Stevie Wayne is given a piece of driftwood by her son Andy; it is inscribed with the word “DANE”, and Andy says he found it on the beach. Intrigued, Stevie takes it with her to the lighthouse where she broadcasts her radio show. She sets the wood down next to a tape player that is playing, but the wood inexplicably begins to seep water, causing the tape player to short circuit. A mysterious man’s voice emerges from the tape player swearing revenge, and the words “6 must die” appear on the wood before it bursts into flame. Stevie quickly extinguishes the fire, but she then sees that the wood once again reads “DANE” and the tape player begins working normally again.
After locating the missing trawler, Nick and Elizabeth find the corpse of one of the fishermen, Dick Baxter, with his eyes gouged out. The other two are missing, one of whom is the husband of Kathy Williams, who is overseeing the town’s centennial celebrations. While Elizabeth is alone in the autopsy room, Baxter’s corpse rises from the autopsy table and approaches her, before collapsing. As Elizabeth screams, Nick and coroner Dr. Phibes rush into the room where they see the once-again lifeless corpse has carved the number 3 on the floor. That evening, as the town’s celebrations begin, local weatherman Dan calls Stevie at the radio station to tell her that another fog bank has appeared and is moving towards town. As they are talking, the fog gathers outside the weather station and Dan hears a knock at the door. He answers it and is killed by the revenants as Stevie listens in horror. As Stevie proceeds with her radio show, the fog starts moving inland, disrupting the town’s telephone and power lines. Using a backup generator, Stevie begs her listeners to go to her house and save her son when she sees the fog closing in from her lighthouse vantage point. As the fog envelops Stevie’s house, the revenants kill her son’s babysitter, Mrs. Kobritz. They then pursue Andy, but Nick arrives and rescues him.
Stevie advises everyone to head to the town’s church. Once inside, Nick, Elizabeth, Andy, Kathy, her assistant Sandy, and Father Malone take refuge in a back room as the fog arrives outside. Inside the room, they locate a gold cross in the wall cavity which is made from the stolen gold. As the revenants begin their attack, Malone takes the gold cross out into the chapel. Knowing that they have returned to take six lives in lieu of the six original conspirators who led them to their deaths, Malone offers the gold and himself to Blake to spare the others. At the lighthouse, more revenants attack Stevie, trapping her on the roof. Inside the church, Blake seizes the gold cross, which begins to glow. Nick pulls Malone away from the cross seconds before it disappears in a blinding flash of light along with Blake and his crew. The revenants at the lighthouse also disappear, and the fog vanishes. After Elizabeth, Nick, Andy, Kathy and Sandy leave the church, the fog reappears inside the church along with the revenants, and Blake kills Malone.