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The Fog (1980) - Blu-ray Review

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The Fog

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4 stars

Fresh from the success of 1978’s Halloween, director John Carpenter returns to horror and its star Jamie Lee Curtis for his follow-up feature film.  The Fog is a supernatural horror flick that is heavy on atmosphere and creativity and, in spite of its age, its creepy vibe and physical make-up effects still hold up.  For the residents of Antonio Bay, keeping one eye on the weather isn’t so much an act of paranoia; it’s survival.  You see, there’s something hidden within The Fog.

Opening with a grizzled fisherman – Mr. Machen (John Houseman) – telling a scary campfire story to a bunch of captivated kids, The Fog works its hypnotizing mojo upon its audience early.  Like the creeping weather the film wraps itself around, the narrative unfolds slowly about this California fishing town.  We are alerted early to the fact that there are some strange things happening throughout the town on the eve of its centennial celebration.  Grocery stores are suddenly trashed by some invisible force.  Windows are shattered throughout the town.  Even car windows are busted by unseen forces.

It turns out – as Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) discovers – the town hides an ugly secret that is about to make itself known.  Owner of the local lighthouse radio station, DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), broadcasts her jazz program on the night the fog and its shadow figures descend upon a ship just off the shore of the town.  But her soothing voice can't satisfy the ghosts the fog hides within it.  At the same time, town resident Nick Castle (Tom Atkins) drives down a country road and picks up a young hitchhiker named Elizabeth (Jamie Lee Curtis).  Little do they know that their next two nights are going to be their scariest…all because of what terror the fog hides from their view and some of them won’t make it through The Fog.

Creating a sense of dread in cramped quarters is cinematographer Dean Cundey’s specialty and – much like he did with Halloween – his lighting of the movie is phenomenal.  Dull and dim lights play upon the creeping fog and only add to the rich atmosphere.  There are just enough details squeezing in throughout the film to truly scare audiences into believing that someone or something could actually be hidden inside all that swirling mist.

While not as popular as Halloween, there’s no doubt that The Fog shows off the promise that Cameron has fulfilled in his lengthy career.  Carpenter is also writing, directing, and even acting, in his most visible role ever (until Body Bags anyway) as Father Malone’s assistant.

Even if the climax of the film fails to deliver a satisfying resolution, The Fog gets much of its three character-driven storyline correct to satisfy the needs of the horror genre.  There’s possibly not enough ghost action but the kill scenes are solid offerings.  As is the score.  This fantastic composition is electronic bliss. Not that that’s a surprise with Carpenter, but it’s easily one of his best scores. There are some similarities to the Halloween themes, but you get some repetition with every composer.

As a kid, this film terrified me.  How exactly do you hide from those thick, swirling clouds?  It’s everywhere, after all.  As an adult, there are still moments that absolutely shake me.  The Fog might not be Carpenter’s best work, but that won’t stop it from being hailed as a minor classic of the horror genre.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The FogMPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
89 mins.
Director
: John Carpenter
Writer
: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
It is night. It is cold. It is coming.
Memorable Movie Quote: "She's crazy. There's no fog bank out there."
Distributor:
Avco Embassy Pictures
Home Video Distributor:
Shout Factory
Official Website:
Release Date:
February 8, 1980
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 30, 2013

Synopsis: A Northern California fishing town, built 100 years ago over an old leper colony, becomes shrouded by a killer fog containing zombie-like ghosts seeking revenge for their deaths.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Fog

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 30, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

Shout! Factory wins again!  They are quickly becoming what Anchor Bay used to be for Horrorhounds everywhere.  The included 2.35:1 AVC HD image certainly looks better than it ever did on DVD.  Colors are crisp and the film’s detail is loaded with meat AND gristle.  It’s amazing how sharper focus and a more detailed image can really bring an older movie to life.  This might not have been the biggest budgeted movie at the time but you wouldn’t be able to guess its limitations from the crispness of the transfer.  The soundtrack is presented in its natural stereo 2.0 mix and a new 5.1 mix that doesn’t quite add the stuff of new releases.  Dialogue is relatively clear and free of distortion.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Recorded by director John Carpenter and and Writer/Producer Debra Hill, the commentary has a nice flow to it as two play off one another nicely.  Carpenter usually delivers and gives plenty of interesting details in this track.  There’s another commentary featuring actors Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins and Production Designer Tommy Lee Wallace.  It’s a pretty lively recording, full of information about the shoot.

Special Features:

This new Collector's Edition features excellent video and audio and comes jam packed with great supplements.  The first two featurettes are the most rewarding and the most interestin.  One is a frank discussion with Curtis and the other is about the technical mojo of Cundey.  Horror's Hallowed Grounds offers a great modern day look at the film's Northern California locations.  The rest are vintage looks at the making of the film and some storyboard comparisons.  This is fully loaded and a great treat for fans of Carpenter.

  • My Time with Terror with Jamie Lee Curtis (22 min)
  • Dean of Darkness with Dean Cundey (19 min)
  • Fear on Film: Inside The Fog (8 min)
  • Tales from the Mist: Inside The Fog (28 min)
  • The Fog: Storyboard to Film (1 min)
  • Horror's Hallowed Grounds: A Look at the Film's Locations (20 min)
  • Outtakes (4 min)
  • Special Effects Tests (3 min)
  • Theatrical Trailers ( min)
  • TV Spots (3 min)
  • Photo Gallery (8 min)
  • Storyboards (2 min)
  • ABC Sunday Night Movie Promo (1 min)

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