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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Fog (1980)
(2018 4K Restoration)


Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Houseman, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins and Nancy Loomis
Distributor: StudioCanal
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 29 October 2018

The little town of Antonio Bay is preparing for its centenary celebrations, but it has a dark secret. 100 years before, the Elizabeth Dane ship, lost in a thick bank of fog, crashed on the rocks at Spivey Point, misdirected by a campfire intended to ground the vessel. The vicar of the church discovers the diary of Father Patrick Malone, when a brick falls from the wall of his vestry. The writings give credence to the possibility of the fog returning, bringing back the dead crewmen seeking revenge for cold-hearted betrayal ("Midnight till one belongs to the dead.")...

Stevie Wayne is a single mother who runs a radio station from the lighthouse at Antonio Bay. Kathy Williams learns from the vicar about the town's curse and considers the celebrations a sham. However, for the sake of the people she is persuaded to go through with them regardless. The fishing trawler, The Sea Grass is the first subject of retribution, when an ancient ship emerges from a ghostly glowing fog and barely seen figures butcher the handful of men. During a candlelit vigil held by the town, the fog rolls in along the coastline. Stevie Wayne warns the people via her radio station, and stays at her post to report on its curiously purposeful direction ("There's something in the fog!"). She tells the fleeing people to congregate at the church, but is besieged herself at the lighthouse. The church proves to be the focal point, as the stolen gold being transported by the Elizabeth Dane was forged into the large cross which adorns the church. Then the figures emerge from the fog.

If the original Halloween (1978) is one of my top two movies of all time, then The Fog (1980) is certainly in the top six. I am a huge John Carpenter fan and (to mix metaphors) at the drop of a hat will bore the hind legs off a donkey, telling everyone within range what I know about the great man and his films. For as long as I can remember I’ve bought the video releases, soundtrack CDs, DVDs and now Blu-rays and 4K transfers.

Now is a very good time to be a Carpenter enthusiast; not only have I recently seen he and his band play his film themes live in London for the second time, but there is the new Halloween movie (for which he contributed the score and was actively used as a consultant, bringing back Nick Castle to play Michael Myers), and a number of new and upgraded releases for us to devour.

Three John Carpenter films have been repackaged in intriguing 4-disc sets. The Fog, They Live, and Escape From New York incorporate an Ultra HD version of the film, an up-scaled Blu-ray version, a disc of old and new extras, and the full Carpenter soundtrack. They contain newly commissioned artwork and other internal goodies. Needless to say, I have already purchased The Fog set, and it probably won’t be too long before I welcome the others into my collection. I have also pre-ordered Prince of Darkness, which is released in a 2-disc Blu-ray.

The restorations were made using the original negatives, and are approved by The Fog’s Cinematographer Gary B Kibbe and Director of Photography Dean Cundey. Confidence in the new formats is evident in the fact each of these classic films have enjoyed full theatrical screening dates: The Fog between October 26th and 31st. Although it would have been nice to examine the upper range of these releases, the new DVD of The Fog does look to be a huge improvement on previous prints. The colours are particularly vibrant and the always excellent subtle lighting on Carpenter’s films is even more moody and menacing. It’s good that standard DVD releases are also available for the mainstream audience who may not be willing to pay out £30 for the 4-disc sets. This was shown to be the case when a family member recently requested a new 2018 DVD print of Halloween (1978) as a birthday gift.

Three of these releases have been sent to me for review, but Escape From New York is conspicuous by its absence. Hopefully, that oversight will be put right and I’ll be able to review that one, too.

I haven’t said very much about the film itself because so much is known already (see my review of the Special Edition from 2004), but it’s enough to know it’s an old fashioned ghost story set in the then-contemporary time. It’s about revenge from beyond the grave, and a celebration under false pretences. The pace and build-up is spot on, the menace and danger very real, and as for the music and sound effects – it’s one of Carpenter’s very best soundtracks. In short, you need this in your collection.

Commentaries by John Carpenter are always entertaining; this one on the extras dates back some years but is essential listening. Aside from another commentary there are no other extras. The older releases had more, which is disappointing. This means, like me, if you’re a real enthusiast, you’ll just have to fork out for the 4K sets.

10/10 for the film, but this DVD version must drop a point for a lack of special features.


Ty Power

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