With every Blu-ray I review for Scream Factory (Phantasm II review here and They Live review here), I get the overwhelming feeling that the team behind these releases are really big fans of the genre. That is a great feeling! Sometimes, we get releases that say “special” or “collectors” and they aren’t either of those.
Once again, Scream Factory gets it right with The Fog
I will not bore you with a review of the film. I’ve said before that John Carpenter is one of my favorite directors and will go down in history as being one of the greatest visual storytellers. I do think the script falls apart in the back half, but that in no way reduces my enjoyment. The story unfolds during the 100 year anniversary of the cursed seaside town, Antonio Bay, which is about to blanketed in a thick fog. For those who have not seen the film, you’ll have to watch to see how it ends.
And for those same people, this Blu-ray is the way to see it!
The Fog has had a few releases in the past. The original VHS back in the 80s, the first collectors edition by Image on Laser Disc in the 90s and then the MGM release in 2002. I have the LD and the DVD. This Blu-ray transfer far outshines the earlier two. Not just because it’s in HD, but the film’s transfer was supervised by Dean Cundey, the cinematographer (and frequent Carpenter collaborator). So, the fact that the transfer was in the hands of the man who actually photographed the movie makes me feel like I’m watching what was always intended, but never possible in previous versions.
It is a gorgeous film and gorgeous transfer. Widescreen and lush, the image details are so clear. Nothing muddy in the darker shots and nothing blown out in the brighter shots. While the film may be dated, the visual style can stand up next to any contemporary horror. And I would say to a much higher degree! Carpenter is able to do things with such minimalism and deliberate pacing, he doesn’t need a lot of flourishes to tell his story.
The sound is crisp. Dialogue is really clear and pokes through the rest of the mix. And Carpenter’s score sounds better than ever. It happens to be my favorite score of his – it’s actually on my iPod for exercise. Seriously, I exercise to The Fog soundtrack.
Scream Factory does a fantastic job at giving the fans as many nerd calories as possible. This release is loaded with the good stuff. Now, many of them do come from previous releases. One of the audio commentaries is from the laserdisc and has Carpenter and the late Debra Hill. It’s a great commentary and I’m really glad they included it.
Among the other previous extras, there are two documentaries – one from back in the day when the film was made which is super groovy and showcases Jamie Lee Curtis’ awesome perm and the other was from the MGM release in 2002. Both are really interesting and informative. The rest of the reissued extras are an outtake reel, special effects test shots, storyboard montage and trailers – all great and nice to have on one release in one place.
As for the updated extras, the Blu-ray has some wonderful new additions. First is 20 minute interview with Jamie Lee Curtis about her career as a Scream Queen. I found her to be very candid about her experiences – including her work on The Fog. The fact that she points out she is 54 and can pretty much say what she wants makes her awesome. The other interview is with Dean Cundey regarding his collaboration with Carpenter. He goes into some detail about certain camera techniques he used on their films and how they got started together. I would say that Cundey is a BIG part of what made those early JC films the works of art they are. So, if you are a fan of his, you’ll love the interview. And there is a brand new commentary with actors Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins and the film’s production designer/editor Tommy Lee Wallace. It’s tons of fun and the three wax poetic about making the film. I enjoy hearing people talk so lovingly about their experiences. That particular commentary is moderated by a fellow named Sean Clark. Which brings me to…
my most favorite extra – the Horror’s Hollowed Grounds tour of the shooting locations from The Fog. Now, I had never heard of Sean Clark before I started reviewing these Blu-rays, but I’m pretty sure he’s always been the caretaker. Sean basically hits the road and checks out (if they still exist) locations used in the film. This one takes him from Hollywood, to Sierra Madre and all the way up the coast to Northern California. It’s pretty rad and hilarious. Sean is total pro and his passion for these movies oozes out every moment he’s talking some bit of info. This guy can point out exactly where characters stood in the frame or if the color of a door is different from when the film was shot. He even points out the difference between some stained glassed windows from the The Fog’s climax that I found to be really fascinating. Sean makes an appearance on some of the other Scream Factory Blu-rays and they are all equally awesome. And I know for a fact that he makes an appearance at the Dead Right Horror Triva Night. Sean, if you read this, know that I’ve been watching from the wings and I am putting a team together.
So, let’s just wrap this up. Go and can grab your copy of The Fog Collector’s Edition! Tell them you’re related to Father Malone. See what happens.
About the Author
Patrick J. Doody is a horror nerd and Mexican Pepsi enthusiast living in Los Angeles. Along with his writing and producing partner Chris Valenziano, he has been involved in such terrorific projects as Silent Hill: Homecoming for Konami, Scream Awards for Spike TV and Ghostfacers: The Web Series for Warner Brothers.
Their latest horror script Beneath, directed by Ben Ketai and starring Jeff Fahey, Joey Kern and Kelly Noonan, just wrapped production.