♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Simon Kennedy takes a look at the 4K restoration of John Carpenter’s The Fog out now…
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook
The Californian coastal town of Antonio Bay is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary. It’s a history that has been half-hidden by those in the know. Town priest Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) stands in the church, pondering the anniversary when a piece of masonry falls from the wall. It reveals a cavity containing an old journal. It’s his grandfather’s diary from a century earlier. It reveals an event in 1880, where six of the founders of Antonio Bay did something awful. Three fishermen out at sea are buried in a glowing fog. They don’t know what it contains but when a ghost ship sweeps past them and then suddenly the lights go off, three pirates attack them. The next morning, local radio DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau) is given a piece of driftwood by her son. Inscribed on it is a single word. The word is DANE. At the radio station later, a man’s voice emerges from the tape player swearing revenge. It swears that 6 must die. The wood bursts into flames and is left blackened. As the night draws in along Antonio Bay, the fog drifts into the town again. This time it moves slowly, more methodically, and now it leaves dead bodies in its wake.
The Fog is a classic ghost story yarn. It mixes classic film monsters with modern filmgoing sensibilities in sexual relationships (casual sex after only a brief meeting) and cultural perspectives (ancestors with mean streaks and nasty sides). Inspiration forThe Fog comes from far and wide, from Glastonbury mist, fireside stories, ghost tales and pirate films but you can see the influences from other places. The pirate is a classic monster which isn’t just an Errol Flynn styled figure, which has morphed into a creature. All of this harks back to the Universal films and the later B Movie films from the 50s. It is apparent that Carpenter seems to idolise these creature features but in The Fog.
Ok, right before I go down into the extras that are on another separate disc, lets get to the first disc and well, you know, the 4K restoration.The Fog was shot in lush anamorphic 2:35:1 format to make it look less like what it was, a low-budget feature. The 4K majestically transforms the dulled DVD version into a magical Hollywood event. What I mean by this is that the film feels like a cinema event. It feels like you are watching it on the big screen. You see it as Carpenter seemingly hoped you would. It is a stand-out on the opening scene (shot in the reshoots and read below for more on that), the church ending and the mist-laden lighthouse.
John Carpenter had visited the genres of the Western (by way of Assault on Precinct 13), then horror (spawning the Slasher boom) with Halloween, which was also recently given the 4K treatment before he moved to another sub-genre in horror. After a detour with musical biopic of ELVIS, in 1980 Carpenter directed The Fog. Produced by AVCO – Embassy on a two-picture deal,The Fog was the first film in that deal. A fireside tale of revenging pirates, a town in panic and a whole host of dubious secrets underpinning everything. On seeing the first cut, Carpenter choose to reshoot. He chose to add more gore, more story to make it make sense. If you remove the abstracts and the elliptical in the film, the film became coherent.
The extras on the second disc cover this in quite a substantial amount of detail. They profoundly illustrate the skill of a filmmaker like Carpenter. They look at how he chose ideas, how he built on them and how he worked with Debra Hill and his team. Scene Analysis by John Carpenter is very revealing regarding this event. Audio commentary with actors Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins and production designer Tommy Lee Wallace reveals a lot about the casting of the film, the location and an element I really enjoyed, the lack of nepotism which were the reasons for these choices. Retribution: Uncovering John Carpenter’s THE FOG might be less worthwhile than we would expect. It goes over a lot of old ground and a lot of stuff we have known before.
Collector’s Edition Blu Ray Extras:
Retribution: Uncovering John Carpenter’s THE FOG: A brand retrospective documentary produced by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures and featuring interviews with cinematographer Dean Cundey, production designer/editor Tommy Lee Wallace, photographer Kim Gottleib-Walker, make-up effects artist Steve Johnson, Carpenter biographer John Muir, music historian Daniel Schweiger, visual effects historian Justin Humphreys and assistant Larry Franco
The Shape of The Thing to Come: John Carpenter Un-filmed: A brand new featurette looking at the John Carpenter films that never were
Easter Egg – surprise!
Intro by John Carpenter – an interview with director John Carpenter originally recorded for a French DVD release in 2003
Scene Analysis by John Carpenter – Director John Carpenter analyses key scenes from The Fog, in an interview from 2003
Fear on Film: Inside the Fog (1980) – A vintage featurette which includes an interview with John Carpenter
The Fog: Storyboard to Film – original storyboards
Photo gallery incl. Behind the Scenes
Audio Commentary with writer/director John Carpenter and writer/director Debra Hill
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark – a fun tour of the film’s locations hosted by Sean Clark
Audio commentary with actors Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins and production designer Tommy Lee Wallace
The 2018 restoration of THE FOG was made using the original camera negative which was scanned at 4K resolution in 16bit and we applied a HDR Dolby Vision workflow to the restoration process which resulted in the creation of a 4K DCP, HDR & SDR UHD version and a new SDR HD version which were produced with the same high technological standards as today’s biggest international film releases.
- Dolby Vision
- Region: 2.35:1
- Audio: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio
- 4 discs
(1 UHD, 1 Blu-ray feature, 1 Blu-ray extras, 1 CD Soundtrack)
48 page book