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Blu-ray Reviews

The Fog (1980) Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 2 Todd Erwin

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Posted August 08 2013 - 05:26 PM

The Fog (1980) Blu-ray Review

Following the success of Halloween, John Carpenter was offered a two-picture deal with Avco-Embassy, the first film being 1980’s The Fog. As a film, it never quite reaches the thrills of Carpenter’s previous hit, but does manage to offer up a few scares, nonetheless. The Fog comes to Blu-ray with a new high-definition transfer supervised by Director of Photography Dean Cundey, and Scream! Factory has ported over most of the bonus features from the previous MGM DVD release, with two new interviews exclusive to this release.


Cover Art


Studio: Scream Factory

Distributed By: Shout! Factory

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English

Rating: R

Run Time: 1 Hr. 30 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

Standard Single-disc Blu-ray Keepcase

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 07/30/2013

MSRP: $29.93




The Production Rating: 3/5

On the eve of Antonio Bay’s centennial celebration, strange things begin to happen. Windows shatter, objects fall from the ceiling, car alarms go off by themselves, phones ring for no apparent reason. The town’s priest, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook), finds his grandfather’s journal among the rubble from a piece of the church’s ceiling that has collapsed. Upon reading the journal, he discovers that his grandfather, along with the town’s founding fathers, deliberately murdered the crew of the Elizabeth Dane and sank the ship to prevent the captain from establishing a leper colony nearby. The founders also plundered the ship for its gold to finance the building of the church. As the celebration begins, the crew of the Elizabeth Dane exact their revenge on the town.

I first saw John Carpenter’s The Fog upon its initial theatrical release way back in 1980, and found it to be quite boring. My appreciation of film has changed over the years, and watching it again nearly 33 years later, while there is much to admire about the film, it’s just not all that scary and the pacing just too slow. This was Carpenter’s theatrical follow-up to the highly successful Halloween, and the first of a two-picture deal with Avco-Embassy, so perhaps the bar was raised too high on this picture. The Fog has a great ensemble cast, including Hal Holbrook; Adrienne Barbeau as the town’s late-night DJ, Stevie Wayne; Jamie Lee Curtis as the young hitch-hiking artist Elizabeth Solley; Janet Leigh as the town’s mayor, Kathy Williams; Tom Atkins as truck driver Nick Castle; John Houseman as an old man telling ghost stories by the campfire; Charles Cyphers as the local weatherman, Dan O’Bannon. The real star of the film, though, is Dean Cundey’s cinematography, adding a much-needed level of atmosphere and eeriness in the way the fog effects are photographed. Carpenter would redeem himself just one-year later with the exceptional Escape From New York.



Video Rating: 4/5  3D Rating: NA

The 1080p transfer compressed using the AVC codec retains the film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and has never looked better. Colors are well-saturated and consistent, blacks are inky while retaining much of the detail, and film grain is left virtually intact. All of this should be no surprise, since this was a newly-minted transfer, supervised by The Fog’s Director of Photography, Dean Cundey.



Audio Rating: 3.5/5

As with most Scream! Factory titles, The Fog contains a 5.1 remix and an original 2.0 mono soundtrack, both in DTS-HD Master Audio. The 5.1, for the most part, remains faithful to the original mono theatrical mix. Dialogue is directed to the center channel, with music and effects spread across the front left, center, and right channels, with some bleeding into the surrounds when needed.



Special Features Rating: 4/5

Most of the special features from the previous MGM DVD release have been ported over on this new Shout! Factory Blu-ray, with some new features added to this release.

Audio Commentary with John Carpenter and Debra Hill

**NEW** Audio Commentary with Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, and Tommy Lee Wallace: Moderated by Sean Clark (Horror Hound magazine), the three discuss making The Fog, often having fun and sharing stories in this brand-new commentary.

**NEW** My Time With Terror with Jamie Lee Curtis (HD; 21:46): The actress discusses her career after making Halloween, and how The Fog helped kick it into gear in this recent interview.

**NEW** Dean of Darkness with Dean Cundey (HD; 18:40): The film’s Director of Photography discusses using anamorphic widescreen effectively, working with John Carpenter, and his overall career in this new interview.

**NEW** Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: A Look at the Film’s Locations (HD; 20:22): Sean Clark takes us on a tour of many of the film’s locations.

Fear On Film: Inside The Fog (SD; 7:42)

Tales from the Mist: Inside The Fog (SD; 27:58)

The Fog: Storyboard to Film (HD; 1:26)

Outtakes (SD; 4:10)

Special Effects Tests (SD; 2:39)

Theatrical Trailers (HD; 4:34)

TV Spots (SD; 3:05)

Photo Gallery (HD; 8:02)

Storyboards (HD; 2:18)

ABC Sunday Night Movie Promo (SD; 1:02): Accessible as an Easter Egg.

Reversible Cover: Choose between the new Scream! Factory artwork, or the classic movie poster .



Overall Rating: 4/5

The Fog is not one of my favorite John Carpenter films, but it is nice to see it arrive on Blu-ray, and, as always, Shout! Factory has packed their edition with a great transfer as well as some nice bonus features.


Reviewed By: Todd Erwin


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#2 of 2 Nick*Z

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Posted August 19 2013 - 06:20 AM

Yep, The Fog is a minor masterpiece from Carpenter. It works. It just isn't the movie any of us expected him to make. It's always worked for me as a traditional ghost story rather than a horror movie which is what audiences were expecting to see. The narrative has its flaws, chiefly in the third act that becomes very episodic, meandering and desperate for something intelligent to say. Janet Leigh's wasted. Ditto for Jamie Lee Curtis. But Carpenter sets up his premise with gusto and goes for it in the climax. 

 

I don't know of too many B-budget film makers who could get this much atmosphere and mood today. Heck, I don't think I know of any who would even know how to try. Carpenter and his partner in crime, Debra Hill had a lot of guts doing The Fog - and a keen eye and flare for generating good solid chills with clever timing and spooky low tech solutions to delivering a very high concept movie.

 

The Fog doesn't shock or disgust, but it does send a distinct chill down the spine. Good stuff overall. Ditto for the transfer from Shout! The old Optimum release is now officially a Frisbee! 


Edited by Nick*Z, August 19 2013 - 06:21 AM.






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