Definitely one of my favorite films from John Carpenter is The Fog (top five for sure) and why it's remained one of my favorite movies to revisit every single Halloween season is how perfectly Carpenter utilized tension and mood throughout the film, achieving some near perfect moments of cinematic spookiness.
I also loved how Carpenter really embraced his entire ensemble (much like he did in Halloween); giving us real characters to care about that also serendipitously cross paths throughout his story. Very few movies have ever quite captured that "campfire tale" feeling like The Fog did, making it a movie that has been endlessly entertaining over the last several decades and will continue to for decades to come.
I've enjoyed Adrienne Barbeau in pretty much anything she does, but how she manages to delicately balance her performance between being fearless and fearful here so seamlessly is just an art form in itself. So much of her performance relies on her now iconic voice and reacting against virtually nothing most of the time. With her harrowing portrayal of radio DJ Steve Wayne, Barbeau demonstrated why she was and still remains one of the best actresses of her generation. Her understated portrayal of a single mother struggling with isolation while trying to keep her son safe against a ghostly presence that's terrorizing her small town is truly the heart and soul of what makes The Fog so great.
Carpenter has always been a master of scaring us with what we're not seeing as opposed to delivering an onslaught of carnage to assault our senses and The Fog shows that you can scare the hell out of people without showing them a lot. When the real threat is revealed, it elevates that feeling of dread exponentially. A prime example of that is the scene where young Andy (Ty Simpkins) and babysitter Mrs. Kobritz (Regina Waldon) get a surprise visit from some malicious ghosts after the power goes out all over town. The beauty of that scene in particular is that Carpenter manipulates us and our fears by not showing us what we're expecting; he plays things masterfully and uses the atmosphere itself to scare the bejeezus out of us, not copious amounts of blood and gore. Quite frankly, no one's approach the horror in the late 70's and 80's was nearly as nuanced and precise at Carpenter's was and that's why his movies continue to endure over time.
The video presentation of The Fog on Scream Factory's Blu-ray is just downright stunning and the fact that it was supervised by cinematographer Dean Cundey totally pays off. This version is infinitely better than the DVD version I've had on my shelves for quite some time now. That's not to say that everything is perfect, as there are a few moments that still look a little too hazy and a few of the nighttime scenes are a bit darker than I was hoping. As a whole, however, this Blu-ray version breathes new life into The Fog, especially considering some of the scenes have a renewed vibrancy to them.
The Fog on Blu-ray is also busting at the seams with a TON of special features that fans will dig the hell out of. Scream Factory included the previously released audio commentary track with Carpenter and Debra Hill, which is still entertaining even if you've heard it before. There's also a really entertaining new commentary with actors Barbeau, Tom Atkins (THE BEST 'STACHE IN HORROR) and production designer (and truly one of my favorite directors of 80's sequels) Tommy Lee Wallace. There's also a few more featurettes, outtakes, special effects tests, trailers and TV spots, a photo gallery and storyboards, as well as an Easter Egg feature too (look for the gravestones) which was kind of fun to discover.
By and large, The Fog is one of the very best Blu-rays that Scream Factory has put out this year and their love for this and every horror classic is on display right here. An absolute must-own for any genre fan.
Film Score: 4/5 Disc Score: 4/5