The Fog (1980)
By: J.R. McNamara on July 4, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Universal (Australia). Region 2 & 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. Portugese Subtitles. 85 minutes
The Movie
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers
Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music: John Carpenter
Tagline: What you can't see won't hurt you... it'll kill you!
Country: USA
John Carpenter and Debra Hill's total love of horror is evident from the very beginning of The Fog, where they use the quote 'Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?' from the immortal Edgar Allen Poe's poem 'A Dream Within A Dream'. Carpenter belongs to that group of directors from the seventies and eighties that weren't brought up on horror film, but instead were weaned on a love of cinema, that shows in the craft of their work. Like comics of today, which on occasion are made by people without art related backgrounds and only comic related backgrounds.Some movies today seem to have been made by people who don't understand how the nuts and bolts, the very skeleton of films, are made. But they do know horror clichés and what level of gore horror fans like to see and their work sometimes suffers for it.

Carpenter, like Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper and their ilk belong to a group who tell a story first, and if it happens to be a horror story… so be it! In the time when The Fog was made, these movies featured detailed thrilling stories that had occasional gore scenes to titillate the horror fan…instead of a series of gore clichés loosely strung together by a barely comprehendible storyline.

The Fog tells the tale of the small coastal town of Antonio Bay: a quiet fishing village where nothing ever happens and the radio airwaves are caressed by the smooth voice of Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), the owner and sole DJ of the local radio station. It is coming up to its centenary, and local town official Kathy Williams (Janet Leigh) and her assistant Sandy (Nancy Loomis) have been preparing festivities for this celebration for many months, but these festivities are about to be shattered. Antonio Bay has a horrible secret, a secret that has been covered up for many years but will return in a murderous fashion to take revenge on the townsfolk. The town was built on murder and lies, and the victims from 100 years ago are back and under the cover of a thick fog are taking their horrible revenge. The cover up is discovered by Father Malone (Hal Holbrook), but not before many murders take place, including three upon a vessel owned by Nick Castle (Tom Atkins), who along with hitch-hiker/girlfriend Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis) fight through the night to escape the bloodthirsty ghosts of the past.

A movie that was in trouble for a period, Carpenter himself even remarks several times on this disc that the finished product is actually a remake of the original finished film, which he had to re-cut and film extra scenes for to make it more sell-able to the general public… especially after the tone that Halloween left in film goers minds. This re-editing does create a few continuity flubs (keep your eyes out for Jamie Lee Curtis varying hair lengths) but in general doesn't effect the film at all. Carpenter really was at his peak in this period, as one can assume by the wonderful Halloween and the total butt kicking thrills of The Thing. The Fog is just more evidence supporting that case.
The transfer is nice and clean, and presents the film in an anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image is bright and vibrant throughout, and didn't seem to have any artefacts at all.
The audio is presented in 5.1 and really kicks ass. Considering the age of the film, the sound mix is fantastic!
Extra Features
Nice selection of extras on this disc.

The audio commentary is performed by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, and is incredibly informative, with some spectacular insights into the production of this film.

Fear on Film, Inside the Fog is a Mick Garris directed doco from around the release date that features interviews with Carpenter, Hill, Janet Leigh, Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis. This is an interesting piece that features some interesting anecdotes from all being interviewed.

Tales from the Mist: Inside the Fog is a retrospective look at the film, and almost feels like a sequel doco to Fear on Film: Inside the Mist. This one, though, has more of a 'looking back' feel, and all seem to do so with fondness. Features more current interviews with Carpenter, Hill (so obviously these interviews take place before her death), Barbeau, Leigh, Tommy Lee Wallace and Dean Cundey. There are some bits from Jamie Lee Curtis, but they are taken from the previous Garris directed doco.

The deleted scenes on this disc were deleted from the film because they are actually bloopers and behind the scenes shots, and not extra scenes at all.

The Photo Gallery/Posters section is a series of production stills and one really bad poster.

The teaser and trailer section features one of each, and they are the old school 'shock' ending type that really have little to do with the film.

The packaging for this film suggests an 'Easter Egg' to be present, the only one I could find was one that showed the credits for the DVD mastering (if anyone knows of another, please email me!!)
The Verdict
After overcoming the brain poisoning tragedy of Rupert Wainwright's The Fog remake, my revisiting of the original was quite refreshing. While not really original, with it's tale of vengeful spirits which seems to be the fallback storyline for most ghost stories, it does at least offer some quality with its horror fan's dream cast (in Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh and Adrienne Barbeau), and a story that builds tension nicely, and manages to never become ridiculous, which in a lesser writing team's hands could have happened quite easily. This film should be a staple of every ghost movie aficionado's diet.
Movie Score
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