The Fog Special Edition is one of four John Carpenter classics being re-released in late 2018, on Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray and DVD, and this is one of the four I haven’t seen before.
Beginning with a creepy old sea captain (John Houseman) telling a creepy story just before midnight, about a mysterious fog which caused all manner of problems for a clipper ship, precisely 100 years ago. You’ve got to admire his timing while he stares all spooky-like at the young lads at the camp.
(Well, I say timing, but his story starts at 11.55pm and finishes bang on midnight, even though it lasts less than three minutes)
As the fog starts to arrive, lots of weird stuff starts happening – everything shakes like an earthquake, while all the public phones start ringing out simultaneously then petrol pours out from a pump and, before long, the Pirates of the Caribbean arrive…
This has some amusing, and clearly intentional horror tropes, such as when one person starts slowly walking towards danger, and you know they’re going to cop for it, while someone else warns them off – and it’s nicely done the way that the fog, itself, is used to make it look like it has a purpose to what it’s doing, especially in an age of practical effects rather than today’s lazy CGI, but despite a couple of very amusing jump-scares in this which I don’t want to spoil in case you also haven’t seen it yet, and a short running time of 90 minutes, it still feels a bit slow and, as everyone tries to escape being butchered, it doesn’t have the pace of Halloween.
Still, we have Escape From New York‘s Adrienne Barbeau (above) as midnight radio show host Stevie Wayne, who lives in the lighthouse, always present, while Jamie Lee Curtis‘ (below, with Tom Atkins) role is much smaller by comparison, despite being John Carpenter’s lead in the aforementioned slasher flick, two years earlier. In addition, her mother, Janet Leigh, is here.
The film is presented in the theatrical 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition it’s all a little soft in the image, but that’ll be down the way it was shot and not as a result of the remastering, which is damn good and is crystal clear.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and there’s some use of surround sound audio when the spooky stuff kicks off around halfway through, but nothing particularly stand-out beyond that, although Carpenter’s score beats along constantly to up the tension in some scenes.
The extensive extras are as follows, and my score further down reflects on what I have access to, since it’s just the disc on which the film comes, but if you buy the 4K version, as per the picture, that’s easily going to top them to 10/10!:
- Easter Egg: Behind The Effects For the Teaser Trailer (1:50): Leave the menu on disc 2 playing for a few minutes, and eventually, an extra piece pops up about how John Carpenter gives himself a hand… with a latex appendage for one of the baddies.
Special Make-up Effects Assistant Steve Johnson talks us through it.
- Retribution: Uncovering John Carpenter’s The Fog (44:55): An all-new ‘making of’ mixing clips from the film with new chat from many of those involved, as they discuss the inspiration of the movie, the cast, and there’s archive chat from Mr Carpenter, himself. There’s four chapters to this piece, and sometimes, they start mid-scene, which is a bit annoying.
Interviewees include cinematographer Dean Cundey, production designer/editor Tommy Lee Wallace, photographer Kim Gottleib-Walker, make-up effects artist Steve Johnson, Carpenter biographer John Muir, music historian Daniel Schweiger, visual effects historian Justin Humphreys and assistant Larry Franco.
Oddly, there are subtitles in French and German, but not English!
- The Shape of The Thing to Come: The Un-filmed of John Carpenter (8:44): Another new extra, shot at the same time, where things turn to those Carpenter movies that never came to be – the disaster movie The Prometheus Crisis (aka Meltdown), Black Moon Rising and his takes on Stephen King’s Firestarter and a modern-day Creature From The Black Lagoon. This is a great piece.
- Intro from John Carpenter (8:17): A brief piece shot in 2003, in Los Angeles.
- Scene Analysis by John Carpenter (3:30): Recreating a problematic reel 9, while the main man shows his thoughts on what’s showing on a version of the movie as it’s cropped to 4:3! Sacrilige!
- Fear on Film: Inside the Fog (7:42): An archive featurette with Mr Carpenter and Debra Hill, and many main cast members as they talk about the film.
- The Fog: Storyboard To Film (1:26): A brief piece for when the ghost ship arrives…
- Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark (20:22): Sean Clark tours the movie’s locations including the opening campfire and store scenes. He also did the same for last year’s Carrie Special Edition.
- Outtakes (4:10): Starting with the old sea captain, which made me crack up 🙂
- TV Spots (1:36): Three of them, all in 16:9, although they look like 4:3-cropped versions which have then been cropped further as everything is far too close.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:50): Again, similarly-cropped, this is just one trailer, rather than ‘trailers’ as stated in the menu.
- Photo gallery (8:02): A ton of on-set pics changing approx every five seconds. You can’t skip through them as they’re not chaptered.
- Audio commentaries: Two, here. One with writer/director John Carpenter and writer/producer Debra Hill, the other with Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins and production designer Tommy Lee Wallace.
The menu mixes clips from the film with some subtle animation of the lighthouse, but… it’s silent! Why? Chapters are a bog-standard 12 and subtitles are in English, French and German.
1*CD Soundtrack), a poster, 5 artcards and a 48-page book.
Running time: 90 minutes
Released: October 29th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD-MA
Disc Format: BD50
Director: John Carpenter
Producer: Debra Hill
Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music: John Carpenter
Stevie Wayne: Adrienne Barbeau
Elizabeth Solley: Jamie Lee Curtis
Kathy Williams: Janet Leigh
Mr. Machen: John Houseman
Nick Castle: Tom Atkins
Dick Baxter: James Canning
Dan O’Bannon: Charles Cyphers
Sandy Fadel: Nancy Loomis
Andy Wayne: Ty Mitchell
Father Malone: Hal Holbrook
Al Williams: John Goff
Tommy Wallace: George ‘Buck’ Flower
Mrs. Kobritz: Regina Waldon
Dockmaster: Jim Haynie
Mel: Darrow Igus
Sheriff Simms: John Vic
Mayor: Jay Jacobs
Ashcroft: Fred Franklyn
Ghost: Ric Moreno
Ghost: Lee Sacks
Ghost: Tommy Lee
Bartender: Bill Taylor
Blake: Bob Bottin
Blake (voice): Charles Nicklin
Dr. Phibes: Darwin Joston
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.