Region 2 (UK) Edition - Reviewed by John J Johnston
Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook
original, somewhat low-key, release in 1980, John Carpenter’s The Fog
has achieved cult status, a fact now recognised by Momentum Pictures in
this two-disc Special Edition release. The Fog pays homage
to the stories of M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft. In tone, it is
substantially removed from the film that established his reputation as a
horror film director, 1978’s Halloween. Where that film relied on
shocks and nail-biting tension, The Fog concentrates more on
building an almost palpable atmosphere of dread, and the supernatural
aspect of the unfolding events.
unacquainted with the film, a few words regarding the plot: As the
residents of Antonio Bay, a small town on the Californian coast, prepare
to celebrate its hundredth anniversary, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook)
discovers his grandfather’s diary, which details the actual, murderous
circumstances of the town’s inception. After one hundred years the men
from the ship that the townsfolk deliberately foundered on the rocks seek
revenge upon the descendents of their murderers.
is richly textured in terms of visuals and ambience, assisted greatly by
Dean Cundey’s anamorphic photography of the bleak California coast-line
and Carpenter’s disconcerting, albeit very 80s, electronic score.
ensemble cast is uniformly excellent, with a number of strong female
performances, particularly from the then-Mrs Carpenter, Adrienne Barbeau (Escape
from New York, Creepshow) as the sultry voiced DJ, Stevie Wayne
and the late Janet Leigh (Psycho, The Manchurian Candidate)
as no-nonsense business woman Kathy Williams. Hal Holbrook (Creepshow,
Wall Street) supplies sterling support as the dissolute Father
Malone and the scene is set by a brief, atmospheric cameo role from the
great actor / producer John Houseman (The Paper Chase).
is presented uncut in its original 2:35:1 theatrical format, in anamorphic
format, with a high average bitrate of 8.6 Mb/sec. The picture is sharp
and clear of compression artefacts. The blacks are rich and dark, although
it is gratifying to note that in a film where so much of the action occurs
at night that the picture is never too dark. Some care has been taken to
source a print free of dirt or speckles and for a film of its comparative
age, The Fog looks positively pristine, although there is some
slight evidence of graininess in certain scenes where the screen fills
with the eponymous fog.
is presented with a choice of digitally-enhanced Dolby Digital 5.1 (at
448kbps) and mono (96kbps) sound tracks. The mono presentation is a
faithful rendition of the theatrical release of the film, while the 5.1
sound balance is just right: it adds just a little more drama, but at no
point does the frequently-thumping musical score overshadow either
dialogue or sound effects. The film is supported by an array of subtitles,
including English. In addition to the English tracks and the commentary
track, Momentum’s disc also features two mono foreign language tracks
(96kbps each), a stereo foreign language track (192kbps), and a German 5.1
track (448kbps), all of which will be stealing available bitrate from the
picture encoding (the additional audio tracks account for about 0.8Mb/sec
of the average bit-rate).
disc closely resembles the Region 1 version, from MGM, which was released
in August 2004. MGM’s Region 1 version has an average bit-rate of
6.41Mb/sec (but you only need subtract from that the disc's single
additional 192kbps mono channel).
THE BONUS MATERIAL
commentary on the main feature is provided by John Carpenter and
writer/producer Debra Hill, and was sourced from the laserdisc release
produced some years ago. It provides an interesting insight into the
making of the film, particularly regarding the additional shooting and
re-editing required following the film’s initial and disappointing test
disc contains an informative twenty-eight minute documentary Tales from
the Mist: Inside The Fog, shot in 2002 and
featuring interviews with Barbeau, Leigh, Hill, Carpenter and
Cinematographer, Cundey. As might be expected, however, much of the
information here is already covered in greater detail within the
an eight-minute studio publicity featurette Fear on Film: Inside The
Fog, produced in 1980, which features interviews with many of the same
players including, on this occasion, Jamie Lee Curtis.
just over one minute, a Storyboard provides a split-screen film /
storyboard account of the attack on The Seagrass.
package is rounded out with four minutes of outtakes, a theatrical
trailer, two teasers and three TV spots. There is also a substantial
gallery of nearly eighty stills and an Easter egg, which I don’t propose
to spoil for you.
2 has the distinct advantage of being presented as two separate discs. The
American release is a double-sided DVD-14 format disc, featuring an
unnecessary pan and scan version on the same side as the special features
and, as such, leaves one or other side open to damage. The Region 1 has a
tiny gallery of posters and publicity material missing from the UK version
but lacks the more substantial gallery of the Region 2 release. The mono
mix and commentary track on the Region 1 release are each presented at
192kbps, which might be a factor for purists with a good ear.
release represents an enjoyable and informative release for an
entertaining, atmospheric and understated film.