The Fog (Blu-ray Review)

The-FogJohn Carpenter hit success big with Halloween in 1978.  Following up that first big success is always a challenge.  He was dubbed the “next Hitchcock” and there was a lot of anticipation for his next film.  But with that, studios offering him deals wanted him to tackle the horror genre again.  Carpenter had no problem accepting that challenge as he loved to get people on the edge of their seat and make them jump.  Wanting to stray from a “knife picture” like the one he just completed, John opted to do a gothic ghost story.  The Fog may not have been the greatness or had the success of Halloween, but it is still a terrific horror film and has deservingly found its following shortly after its release.  Scream Factory brings their “royal treatment” to The Fog and gives it the kind of treatment any fan could hope a movie they love could get.

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100 years ago in Antonio Bay, a ship was lured toward a campfire light, crashing into the shore.  The ship sank and all its crew drowned within.  But before reaching death, they vowed to return and take their revenge.  On this night 100 years later, a strange fog has consumed Antonio Bay, creating a strange series of events.  A radio dj tries her best to steer the town and her son clear of the fog, while other strangers take paths that will bring them together to survive the night and fend of the pirate ghosts living within the fog.

The Fog is a very atmospheric and slow burning horror film.  It successful builds around an ensemble cast of characters and strikes when necessary.  In the meantime, it keeps you on edge, feeling that something could turn the tables at any moment.  From Jamie Lee Curtis and Adrienne Barbeau to Tom Atkins and Hal Holbrook, the characters filling the world of The Fog are interesting and each given a chance to shine through.  There’s a lot of Carpenter regulars abound (including a fave of mine, Nancy Loomis) that we have no problem bouncing back and forth between.  None feel expendable and all of them seem to matter or get us rooting for them to escape the night alive.

Nobody shot horror in the 80s like Dean Cundey.  The Fog is another example of his masterwork.  It’s a very atmospheric film.  Cundey is able to set a very dark, uncomfortable old time gothic mood piece in what was, at the time, a modern setting.  In many ways, some of his shots are more impressive than that of Halloween.  Cundey captures some practical trick camera work in ways that is still mightily impressive today.  While by today’s standards this film would be considered slow-burn horror, it should still be effective thanks to Cundey’s work.

A John Carpenter film discussion is not complete without talking about his score.  The Fog boasts one of Carpenter’s best.  Like Halloween, his music effectively sets an uncomfortable tone to compliment what is going on onscreen.  The music also produces scares of its own and enhances scenes of intensity.  This features his first dabbling in synth which would be his primary style of the scores we love still to this day.

The Fog is a personal favorite horror film of mine.  It’s a terrific story of ghost pirates seeking revenge on a small town.  Its shot and scored beautifully.  John Carpenter presents on of his best ensembles he’s ever assembled.  The Fog should be categorized in the “classics” department when it comes to horror.  There are many scenes you won’t forget and scares that should still produce.  It’s not Halloween, no, but not many films are.

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The previous MGM DVD release of The Fog was kind of ratty print.  There was lots of wear to it and it was kind of an ugly presentation.  This 1080p MPEG-4 AVC presentation is an incredible step up.  This is the best the film will ever look.  Displayed in “Carpenter-vision” (2.35:1), Scream Factory’s typical treatment is in full force.  One thing I love about their releases is they bring their films to an almost natural look.  Never present is any signs of over tampering.  There’s a nice level of welcome grain and some film wear hear and there (don’t worry, nothing distracting and it brings some charm).  This is another example of one of their cult classics looking the best it possibly can.

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Scream Factory provides a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that makes love to Carpenter’s score.  It sounds great.  Its not overbearing, and the dialogue and effects are wonderfully displayed; it’s just the score sounds terrific.  The volume level set is quite a genius and trick on behalf of Scream Factory.  Its set at a level that once intense events or scares happen the track gets really loud, hopefully getting some jump scares out of those at home.  Complimenting it is a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track that brings a feel that is likely close to the theatrical experience of seeing The Fog in 1980.  This track is no slouch either as the dialogue and foley effects are crisp and clear.  It’s a win-win no matter which track you select.

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Scream Factory loads The Fog with new interviews and vintage vignettes and special features ported over from the previous DVD release.  All features are 1080p MPEG-4 AVC for the video and Dolby Digital 2.0 for audio.  This release will leave over satisfied with information and leaving very few, if any, questions about The Fog.  Some of the features also compliment and bring previous Scream Factory releases full circle.

  •  Audio Commentary With Writer/Director John Carpenter And Writer/Producer Debra Hill – This commentary is brought over from the DVD release (and thank you for this Scream Factory).  John and Deborah have plenty of anecdotes for the film and the commentary never drifts off or is dull.  The two show that they still have quite the chemistry when it comes to film.
  • Audio Commentary With Actress Adrienne Barbeau, Actor Tom Atkins And Production Designer Tommy Lee Wallace – Sean Clark moderates these three as they reflect on The Fog and things going on in their lives before, after and outside of The Fog.  It’s not as hardcore as the Carpenter/Hill commentary, but its still a lot of fun.  This is a new feature for this Blu-ray release.
  • My Time With Terror With Jamie Lee Curtis (21:46) – This might be a reason to buy this release in itself.  This is a very blunt, honest and charming interview with Jamie Lee Curtis about coming up in her career through horror.  Since she wasn’t on the other Scream Factory releases, talk isn’t limited to just The Fog, Jamie goes over Terror Train and Halloween II as well.  It makes a perfect companion piece to those Scream Factory releases.  And she let’s you know, she’s not a fan of the film you just purchased, but she’s grateful to have been in it.
  • Dean of Darkness With Dean Cundey (18:40) – Legendary cinematographer Dean Cundey discusses his work on The Fog but also goes over all his work and history with John Carpenter.  This interview, coupled with the Jamie Lee interview make an incredible 1-2 punch for any fans of horror and John Carpenter.
  • Fear On Film: Inside “The Fog” (7:42) – A vintage promotional video for the film from around the time of release.  It features old interviews with cast and crew.
  • Tales From The Mist: Inside “The Fog” (27:58) – The retrospective bonus feature from the previous DVD incarnation is brought over.  Essentially a new one was not needed because this covers it all and features interviews with actors and producers have passed on since this short was made.
  • The Fog: Storyboard To Film (1:26) – A comparison of the storyboards of the opening kills of the film to the finished product.
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (20:22) – Scream Factory mainstay Sean Clark takes us on a journey to the locations from The Fog while filling us in on interested horror history tid bits.  This show appears on many Scream Factory releases but this one is one of the best as it’s rather informative and a big knowledge bank. 
  • Outtakes (4:10) – Bloopers and goofs from the film.
  • Special Effects Tests (2:39) – Some early work on testing out how the fog effects and such were going to look.
  • Theatrical Trailers (4:34) – Three trailers for the film’s theatrical release.  Two of which are practically the same aside for a few narrative words.
  • TV Spots (3:05) – Six television ads.  The highlight is the last two are for a double feature of The Fog and Phantasm.
  • Photo Gallery – 96 photos that chronicle production, publicity stills, posters, lobby cards and foreign marketing.

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The Fog is yet another labor of love from Scream Factory.  They have given this film the best possible release it’s likely ever to have.  The film looks and sounds fantastic.  The extras give you everything you’ve ever wanted.  The interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis and Dean Cundey alone are reason enough to buy this disc.  Oh, and the film is a superb horror classic as well.  This is one of the best releases from Scream Factory and should be in any film aficionado’s collection.  This release is sure to blow the fans of The Fog away and hopefully find some new ones as well.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “The Fog (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    I love this movie. One of John Carpenter’s best!