HTF REVIEW: "The Fog" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 24, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The Fog

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1979
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 90 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)

    It is night. It is cold. It is coming.
    It's that time of year again when the studios
    start rolling out their most renowned horror
    titles just in time for Halloween. This year,
    MGM heads up the pack with a slew of highly
    requested titles that includes John Carpenter's
    The Fog.
    I never really understood why so many people
    liked this film. The Fog is a real snoozer.
    The credits roll for about 20 minutes and nothing
    happens. A fog rolls in, a few people get killed,
    but there's really no suspense.
    As the film opens, a salty, old sailor (John
    Houseman) sits by a fire on the beach and tells
    a group of young children the true story of
    a ghostly, wrecked ship that crashed ashore one
    hundred years earlier. It seems a crew of leprous
    sailors crashes on the rocks off Spivey Point, led
    by a false signal fire started by six colonists
    who don't like the idea of a community of lepers
    just offshore.
    As the Centenary of the small sea town, Antonio Bay,
    is approaching, everyone is getting in a celebratory
    mood, including Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), the
    town's local DJ. But as the clocks strike midnight
    heralding the town's 100th Birthday, a fog rolls in
    off the coast causing all sorts of havoc.
    After a crew on a vessel is discovered dead, the
    townsfolk get suspicious of their weather related
    problems. Upon finding a hidden diary inside his
    church, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) surmises that
    the dead have returned after century in search of
    the six original conspirators and their lost gold.
    Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis) isn't having
    much luck of her own. After her boyfriend (who
    she met hitch-hiking) gets attacked by the fog,
    both try to escape through town via a pickup truck.
    As the fog moves inland, knocks are heard at the
    door followed by the ghosts who use everything at
    their disposal including hooks, sickles, and
    You would think that following Carpenter's success
    with Halloween, that The Fog would
    have had more substance to it. Instead, Carpenter
    seems to forget how to make a horror film that is
    also entertaining.
    If you are the kind of person who enjoys their
    horror films with long stretches of dialogue and
    little action, The Fog may be your cup
    of tea. As for me, wake me up when it's all over.
    How is the transfer?
    The last time I saw the The Fog was about
    10 years ago on VHS tape. It wasn't the movie that
    scared me, but rather the pan and scan copy filled
    with video noise.
    This widescreen release is a real eye opener.
    Who would have ever thought this film would look
    this good. While the transfer does manage to
    bring out a few flaws in the original elements,
    picture quality remains detailed and sharp. Colors
    also fare very well here, though facial tones
    run a little red. And while I didn't notice any
    pixelation in the fog effects, I did noticed a small
    amount film grain throughout. Overall, this is
    the best the film has ever looked.
    The 5.1 "enhanced" surround sound is adequate.
    Though sound comes across strongly across the front
    channels, the rears don't do a very good job at
    providing surround ambience. For one, the sound
    levels in the rear are awfully low at times.
    Another problem is that the mix only provides a
    sort of reverb effect to the rear channels rather
    than providing any distinct effect noises. For this
    reason, the soundtrack seems a little lackluster.
    Special Features
    As with many of the other horror titles being
    released from MGM, the studio has put quite an
    effort in including extra material that will
    ultimately please the die-hardfans.
    First up is a feature-length audio commentary
    with John Carpenter and Debra Hill.
    Not just one, but TWO documentaries
    are included on this DVD. Let's look at them...
    Tales From The Mist - Inside The Fog is
    one of those documentaries that makes you say,
    cooool! You know why? This new documentary
    produced exclusively for this DVD brings the
    cast and filmmakers back together for a retrospect.
    I was just astonished to see Adrienne Barbeau after
    all these years. The documentary begins as John
    Carpenter and Debra Hill talk about their first
    film, Halloween, a labor of love that they
    first thought was a flop. That flop, however, led
    to an Avco 2-picture deal for Carpenter that
    included The Fog. The idea actually came
    when Hill and Carpenter visited England and saw a
    very intense fog bank in the distance. Debra Hill
    talks about finding the perfect lighthouse on the
    California coast, as well as the fact that the
    actual interior shots were done on a sound stage.
    And how do you create a sinister-looking fog?
    You'll watch as special effects guys fill the streets
    with the menacing fogs using their fog machines.
    Even more interesting to learn is Carpenter's
    solution for making the fog recede. Much of the
    detailed ghost shots were actually reshoots that
    were done at the completion of the film. The
    documentary winds up with exploring the release
    phenomenon that followed.
    (length: approx. 27 minutes)
    Fear On Film - Inside The Fog is an original
    1980 documentary, that when compared to the new
    documentary, is an interesting time capsule piece.
    As we begin, John Carpenter and Debra Hill talk
    about their love for making horror films that make
    people Jump. Janet Leigh compares Carpenter's talent
    with that of Alfred Hitchcock. Adrienne Barbeau
    talk about how she and Carpenter first met, and
    their working relationship on The Fog. Jamie
    Lee Curtis talks about the range of emotions that
    a terror-film victim must go through. John
    Carpenter emphasizes the fact that he doesn't make
    films to please the Press -- he makes the films that
    please him the most. An interesting, but rather
    too short documentary that takes you back to the
    original mind set of the cast and filmmakers shortly
    after the film's release.
    (length: approx. 7 minutes)
    The funniest of the outtakes happens right
    at the beginning as Houseman, sitting at the head
    of a campfire in front of a group of scared kids,
    exclaims, "shit -- what's my line?" The rest of
    the 4 minutes that make up this montage are quite
    funny as actors flub their lines and crack up in
    front of the camera, particularly Janet Leigh.
    Also included are some behind-the-scenes action
    that has the crew goofing around on the set. This
    is one of the more enjoyable outtake reels I have
    seen as of late.
    (length: approx. 4 minutes)
    A very short storyboard to film comparison
    shows us the original storyboard drawings of a
    sighting within the fog, compared to the final
    finished shoot.
    The Advertising Gallery is quite plentiful
    here. First off is three trailers that
    include the original plus two teasers. There are
    also three TV Spots here. You can browse
    through pictures of six posters that were
    used to promote the film as well as Film
    Memorabilia that contains a bumper sticker,
    a button, and a coffee-stained script cover.
    A Photo Gallery has a really cool assortment
    of behind-the-scenes photos taken on the set (many
    in glorious B&W), as well as group cast photos.
    There is also an assortment of publicity stills here
    as well.
    I could not end the list of Special Features without
    mentioning the really nice foldout booklet that has
    liner notes by John Carpenter. It gives some very
    detailed insight into the casting, the locations
    and the effects work.
    Final Thoughts
    MGM has done a commendable job of putting
    together this Special Edition with a transfer
    that must be seen to believed and a nice set
    of supplemental features that are sure to appease
    fans everywhere.
    This one is for the fans!
    Release Date: August 27, 2002
  2. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
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  3. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    May 19, 2001
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    As am I. It's nice to see MGM, at long last, giving the fans what they want!

    Roll on Escape from New York!
  4. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

    Jul 1, 2000
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    I love the film, but this August has cost me a lot of $$$ - namely, FotR, Sopranos S3, Simpsons S2, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown. This is a high priority title and thanks to MGM for putting a great package together, I hope to purchase this in the coming months.
  5. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
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    27 of august can't come fast enough
    bring it on and thanks for the review Ron
  6. JasonKrol

    JasonKrol Supporting Actor

    Aug 19, 2001
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    this is one of those movies that is just soo bad that I love it. My wife agrees too. Although she makes fun of me for loving Killer Klowns from Outer Space, she cant help but share in my love for The Fog!

    I cant wait for this disk to arrive either!
  7. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

    Dec 28, 1998
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    Argh! I cant wait for this DVD!!!
    The pain,the pain[​IMG]
  8. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    May 19, 2001
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  9. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    Nice review. The Fog isn't Carpenter's best work, but it's good enough to warrant a purchase, especially at pre-order prices. Ordered it along with Return of the Living Dead. Should be a cool double-feature! [​IMG]
  10. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
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  11. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

    Jan 3, 2002
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    I love THE FOG because of it's slow pacing. I am so tired of so-called "MTV editing" that something like THE FOG seems like sitting back with an old friend. Bring it on, as long as they don't come out with new editions every other day like HALLOWEEN.
  12. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

    Feb 6, 2001
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    Awesome. This movie scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. Previous video versions have been pretty crappy, so I can't wait to find this one waiting on my doorstep.
  13. DAVE_B

    DAVE_B Auditioning

    Jan 11, 2000
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    Gotta disagree, loved this film since childhood. Maybe that's why I can't wait till the 27th. I can still remember the first time I watched it on tv with my younger sisters and we were scared to death from the opening scene on. We used to play out this and Halloween with all the neighborhood kids-when we weren't inside watching Lost In Space of course.
  14. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

    Mar 4, 2001
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  15. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

    Jun 6, 1999
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    I have it on good authority that the Escape From New York SE is coming out in January-- INCLUDING the entire robbery/train escape sequence of which only a snippet was available for the SE LD.

    Very psyched for The Fog.
  16. Robin Warren

    Robin Warren Second Unit

    Jan 24, 2002
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    Put me in the love it camp. I had this on Selectavision when I was a kid and would watch it endlessly. Slow moving with some great zombie-pirates! And they had leprosy too! Glad to see the special treatment it is receiving from MGM!!! The eye scene gave me nightmares. [​IMG]
  17. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Second Unit

    Jun 23, 2001
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  18. Jerry AZ

    Jerry AZ Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 7, 2001
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    Already pre-ordered[​IMG] Can't wait to retire my old VHS version.
  19. Richard Waller

    Richard Waller Second Unit

    Oct 24, 2001
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    Mark, I'm going to hold you to that! [​IMG] I can't wait for the SE of Escape From New York. I'm also looking forward to getting The Fog SE. Thanks, MGM!
  20. Thomas T

    Thomas T Cinematographer

    Sep 30, 2001
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    Count me in as among those who regard The Fog as a horror gem. Carpenter wisely devotes most of his time to creating mood, atmosphere and tension rather than blood spilling. I'll take long stretches of dialogue which helps character development over the slaughter of nonentities that we don't even care about in stuff like the Friday The 13th series.
    The Fog reminds me of those wonderfully creepy Val Lewton horror flicks like The Cat People or I Walked With A Zombie where the focus is on the potential of something horrible happening rather than the execution of it.
    Sorry to hear Jamie Lee Curtis didn't participate in the retrospective featurette though.

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