Plot: What’s it about?
The small coastal town of Antonio Bay is about to celebrate its Centennial, as it was founded almost one hundred years ago by some wayward sailors. The town is quiet and serene, but if you look into the past of the area, some dark secrets begin to surface. As the town is right on the coast, it gets more fog than most places, but one hundred years ago, a dense & thick fog rolled over Antonio Bay like no one had ever seen before. And in that shroud of fog, a ship was wrecked under mysterious, but obviously horrific conditions, an event that remains cloaked in mystery even a century later. The residents of modern day Antonio Bay weren’t connected to this event of course, but they’ll soon find themselves involved, as the fog once again overtakes the small, serene coastal town. But what horrors lurk within the deep, murky fog and can anyone escape from the certain doom it brings to shore with it?
I’ve always been a fan of The Fog and while it is not the usual horror movie, it has plenty of chills and atmosphere to burn. If you have a short attention span and need cheap scares to stay interested however, then this isn’t your movie by any means. John Carpenter and Debra Hill have created an old school horror movie that delivers all the thrills and chills, but never relies on the easy scares, which is a welcome change. I love blood & gore as much as the next horror buff, but I also love true suspense and eerie atmosphere, both of which Carpenter supplies in massive amounts with The Fog. The photography by Dean Cundey is excellent in all respects, as the visuals just soak in around you just like the fog does in the movie itself, very impressive work from a skilled cinematographer. In addition, the cast turns in solid efforts all around and while the film was produced on a slim budget, it rarely shows thanks to the filmmakers. The pace is perfect to the letter, the visuals are superb, Carpenter’s direction is spot on, and the writing is both eerie & believable, leaving me to give The Fog a very high recommendation.
Although his films haven’t been up to his usual standards of late, John Carpenter remains a great filmmaker and has numerous top notch movies on his resume. His choice in material in recent years has been off I admit, but even then his efforts are enjoyable, just not as good as we’ve come to expect from him. But The Fog comes from his earlier days in the business, only his fourth feature film and with tons of gas left in his tank, Carpenter is able to handle all the details and deliver a wonderful picture. As I mentioned before, the slow pace and focus on atmosphere instead of action will scare some off, but if you’re a fan of horror movies, Carpenter’s work here is tremendous and deserves to be seen. Other films directed by Carpenter include Halloween, Ghosts of Mars, Escape From New York, Christine, and Assault on Precinct 13. The cast here includes Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing, The Convent), Jamie Lee Curtis (Trading Places, Prom Night), and Janet Leigh (Psycho, The Manchurian Candidate).
Video: How does it look?
The Fog is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame edition included on the disc’s flip side. I had some concerns about this transfer because of the all the fog and dark visuals, but MGM has come through and then some. The image is cleaner, sharper, and all around more impressive than ever before, even taking care of most of the problems the laserdisc edition suffered from. The print has some grain and minor nicks, but looks excellent on the whole and fans will be thrilled to no end. The colors have the intended visual impact, while black levels are rich and well defined, a most crucial element in this picture. In short, the movie has never looked this good on home video and as such, I commend MGM’s work here.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here offers the best of both worlds, with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track included, as well as the original mono option. This news will delight fans, as we all love to have the original mix included and MGM should be applauded for making sure it was tacked on with this release. As this is a low budget horror movie from 1980, the results are less than dynamic, but I don’t think we could ask much more from MGM here. The elements remain based in the front channels for the most part, but sound good and never seem thin in the slightest. The surrounds don’t get used too much, but that’s good in this case, as the mix never becomes hollow for forced, instead it stays natural in scope and that’s how it should be. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The extras are headed up by an audio commentary track with director John Carpenter and producer Debra Hill, the same session found on the laserdisc release. Even so, that isn’t bad news in the least, as this is one of the finest tracks out there and it would have been a shame for it to have been left off this edition. Carpenter is his usual talkative, entertaining self and Hill also seems in a good mood, as she discusses the production and shares various anecdotes. A new half hour featurette titled Tales From the Mist offers a nice selection of interviews and explores various aspects of The Fog, from production to how it has held up over the years. This disc also houses a brief featurette (made in 1980), a storyboard-to-film comparison, a nice collection of production stills, some behind the scenes footage, a reel of outtakes, three television spots, and three of the film’s theatrical trailers.