Region 2 (UK) Edition - Reviewed by John J Johnston

Director:  John Carpenter

Featuring:  Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook


Since its 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.    

For those 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. 

The film 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.    

The 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).


The film 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.

The film 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).

Momentum’s 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 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 showing. 

The second 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 producer-director commentary. 

There is 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.

Running at just over one minute, a Storyboard provides a split-screen film / storyboard account of the attack on The Seagrass. 

The 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.


The Region 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.

Momentum’s release represents an enjoyable and informative release for an entertaining, atmospheric and understated film.  












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