OUT OF THE FOG (1962)
aka Fog for a Killer
Article 4209 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Montgomery Tully
Featuring David Sumner, Susan Travers, John Arnatt
What it is: Crime thriller
An ex-convict’s attempts to go straight are compromised when he finds himself suspected of being a serial killer who has been knocking off blondes in the park during nights with a full moon.
The serial killer is the horror content of this movie, though I should point out that the movie doesn’t really use it as an element of horror. In fact, for most of the movie the killings are only talked about rather than shown. That means that this movie is a bit on the marginal side as far as its fantastic content goes.
The movie itself is a crime thriller that tries to build its suspense on the fact that we’re not supposed to know whether the ex-convict is really the serial killer or not. To its credit, the movie tries to be a little deeper than that; it’s also dealing with the theme of the difficulty of going straight for a man who already has a record and may find himself pre-judged because of it. Though I admire its attempt to be something more, the movie ends up illustrating how difficult it is to balance the mystery/thriller angle with its exploration of the deeper theme. In order to be effective with the “difficulties of an ex-con” theme, the movie really needs to be direct and up-front about the character of the ex-convict; after all, it will be his story that we’re trying to experience. However, in order for the mystery/thriller angle to work, the movie has to make the ex-convict a man of mystery, and that’s not easy to reconcile. It might have worked had the movie been a lot subtler about its deeper theme so that we wouldn’t really know what it was about until the end. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here; the movie wears its theme on its sleeve, and that hoodwinks the mystery aspect of the movie to a great degree. It becomes pretty frustrating when the ex-convict starts acting all suspicious, because we know it’s because the mystery aspect is requiring him to do so, even if it’s out of character for him. Still, the movie is efficiently directed and avoids becoming tedious, so it is a watchable diversion.