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.")...
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 tell 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.
who knows me or has followed my reviews will be aware that
I think John Carpenter is a genius writer, director and composer.
Often with very little budget he creates simple but original
and effective psychological siege movies. For me, a new Carpenter
cinematic or special edition DVD release is an event to celebrate.
Many casual followers of the man will cite his early films
as the only ones worth noting, but this is not only unfair
but also untrue. However, I will concede that there were some
early classics which retrospectively became genre favourites.
Although perhaps not remembered in the same light as Halloween
and Assault On Precinct 13, The Fog (from 1979)
is one of my favourites. The balance and pacing throughout
is spot on, the lighting as near to perfect as possible, and
the music score easily one of his best (it certainly enhances
the movie, making it doubly effective).
Fog is a traditional ghost story with a difference. Like
all good notions the origins began with a simple premise.
John Carpenter's Halloween appeared to bomb upon its
first release. He shrugged it off and began work on the Elvis
TV movie with Kurt Russell, only to be informed it was receiving
rave reviews (it went on to be the biggest grossing independent
film until the release of The Blair Witch Project,
raking in a $50 million return from an outlay of just $320,000).
This success prompted a two-picture deal with Avco Embassy,
the first of which was The Fog.
Carpenter and producer Debra Hill were in England and decided
to visit Stonehenge. Behind it was a low, eerie mist which
seemed to pulsate, and Carpenter commented, "What do you suppose
is in the fog?" Keen to follow-up Halloween with another
scary tale, Carpenter borrowed a true event from the 1700s
when a ship laden with gold was lured on to the rocks by the
locals. The crew was drowned and the gold stolen. The Fog
therefore is essentially a supernatural tale of revenge.
I imagined this release to simply be the region 2 version
of the special edition that first emerged two years ago on
region 1, but there are subtle differences. Firstly, the animated
menus are better on region 1, and there are a couple of additional
trailers. There is also the choice of standard or cinematic
widescreen formats on a single two-sided disc. This region
2 version is spread inexplicably over two discs, when everything
would comfortably have fitted on one. There is a nice photo
gallery though, and a not too hidden easter egg showing a
few behind-the-scenes moments. Other extras here include,
Fear on Film - Inside The Fog (a short documentary
from 1980); Tales From the Mist - Inside The Fog (a
much longer documentary from 2002); a montage of outtakes;
a split-screen storyboard to film comparison; and a quite
excellent informative and entertaining commentary by John
Carpenter and Debra Hill.
quibbles aside, this set is well worth owning. The picture
quality makes the old video seem from the dark ages, and the
sound... Oh, the sound! Just listen to the music on Dolby
5.1 (particularly what the film soundtrack calls Reel 9),
you won't be disappointed.
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