The Fog on DVD
Just in time to cash in on the theatrical release of the remake comes
a repackaged version of the John Carpenter original.
Alas, the only difference between this release and the 2002 special edition,
appears to be that this one gets rid of the full screen version
and adds the anti-pirating icons to the back of the box.
Heckuva deal, eh?
"John Carpenters The Fog" is a terrific ghost story, a
horror movie that, despite some silliness, is a lot more moody,
atmospheric and, well, scary, than many that have come since.
And though it has a few graphic frames, for the most part
Carpenter and his co-writer/producer Debra Hill leave the scariest stuff to our
imaginations - and that, not gore, is what makes a great horror movie.
is a well crafted and told story and if you like other
Carpenter films youll probably feel right at home here.
Antonio Bay, California, is a tiny town with a centennial coming
up. One hundred years ago the town was founded, and this is cause for
celebration. But its also cause for pause, because it turns out there was
far more to the towns founding than the townsfolk know - and the horrible
secret is now coming back to haunt them in no uncertain terms.
Adrienne Barbeau leads the ensemble cast as Stevie Wayne, a single
mother who owns and operates the towns tiny radio station, located
spectacularly in a lighthouse on the rocky coast. How small is
this station? Its so small it appears to only be on the air during
the evening, from suppertime till just past witching hour - and we can just
profitable that must be!
And aren't those the hours she should be home with her kid? But we digress...
Also along for the ride are Jamie Lee Curtis as a free-spirited
hitchhiker whos just passin through at exactly the wrong time. Her
real life mother, Janet Leigh, is Kathy Williams, a local mover and shaker; Hal
Holbrook is Father Malone, keeper/discoverer of the towns heinous secret,
and John Houseman is Mr. Machen, seen at the films opening scaring the
pants off some young kids around the campfire.
Its one heck of a cast and they all turn in terrific
performances. But the real star is Carpenter and his/Hills script. They
manage to take this lovely location and turn it into a truly frightening place,
with fog that rolls in menacingly and actually becomes a character in the
But its whats in the fog thats even
Okay, when Barbeau figures things out (kind of), her character
goes from strong and independent woman to some kind of strange animal who
blubbers and babbles over the airwaves, at one moment warning and potentially
freaking out the populace and in the next moment tearfully donning verbal
sackcloth and ashes, whining her apologies to her young son (who, for all she
knows, isnt even listening to the radio; at that hour, he really should
be in bed anway). This silliness is the only thing we could really fault about
The Fog, though on second thought the radio personality's alternating between
frightening listeners and gushing at them could be said to foreshadow
todays mainstream news media to a "T."
But we digress again
Carpenter has a real knack for crafting truly scary movies.
Halloween, which wasnt really a slasher film (okay it was, but it
wasnt a grossout like many of the films it spawned), was frightening. So
is The Fog, and so on through movies like
Thing (possibly the best horror/sci fi film ever),
Village of the Damned, Christine, and right up
to Vampires. Hes also made some damn
good other films, and this reviewer will always proudly admit that
Big Trouble in Little China and
Dark Star are among his all time favorites. Hes inflicted a couple of
stinkers on us, too, but then again who hasnt? Ever met my kids?
Anyway, The Fog is early Carpenter, which in some ways is
Carpenter at his best, unfettered by a major studio and clearly at the top of
The DVD gives the movie its due, which is great. Its offered
in anamorphic widescreen and for the most part the picture is
very good indeed. It actually ranges from excellent to okay, but
is usually closer to excellent,
edges and good color - and a transfer that features good contrast
between the dark darks and light lights.
Audio is supposedly remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 surround but
theres scarcely any surround (although one instance of rear channel use
near the end certainly makes up for any lack earlier). It was obviously a low
budget flick and in those days the audio often lost out to the picture, which
is too bad. But theyve done as good a job with the sound here as they
could, and the result is pretty good all things considered. And
Carpenters score, as usual, comes through well and does a good job of
heightening the tension.
For extras, MGM has really piled on the stuff.
Youre treated to a running commentary by
auteurs Carpenter and Hill - and Carpenter commentaries are always
worth hearing. Theres also a documentary retrospective thats
quite fascinating, as well as an original 1980 promotional reel that isnt
as good but which is still welcome (though the new documentary scoops some
footage from here, which makes it quite redundant).
Theres also some storyboard to film comparison stuff, some
pretty funny and/or interesting and/or lame outtakes, photos and the like. In
all, its a good package that gives this classic horror flick its due.
John Carpenters The Fog, from MGM Home Video
90 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible /Pan&Scan,
Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Houseman, Janet Leigh,
Produced by Debra Hill
Written by John Carpenter
and Debra Hill, Directed by John Carpenter
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