Release: 29th October 2018
An unearthly fog rolls into a small coastal town exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in its waters.
It is hard to imagine The Fog as a ‘classic’. It is slow, confusing, dumb and horribly acted. Yet somehow, by some mist covered magic, it is thought to be something of an iconic horror film.
There is no denying that, at times, The Fog has a few creepy moments. The ever-growing sense of dread that Carpenter manages to evoke from a smoke machine and someone knocking at the door, is a great achievement. As is the basic premise of the central narrative. There are some wonderful visuals, and the cinematography is top draw. What doesn’t seem as well executed are the seemingly random moments of talking, walking, and blinking; the tenuously connected characters and the absolutely dreadful radio broadcasts Carpenter uses to signpost literally everything that is happening. Honestly, who calls the police through a microphone!?
Rumour has it that Carpenter had to film extra scenes to pad out the original cut of the movie, and this makes perfect sense. As, at times, the story almost grinds to a halt. What should be a breakneck 90 minutes feels more like 3 hours, as Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes and Tom Atkins sleepwalk their way into a deathtrap. In fact, the only one who seems to be buying in to this boredom – or rather adding to it – is Adrienne Barbeau; a disc-jockey with Scooby Doo-like abilities to solve murders AND put on a silly voice.
It is normally the case in a good horror film that you dread seeing the monster, but The Fog somehow reverse engineers this formula and has you cheering for the barnacle covered murders. Here is a film where even the death of a sweet old lady is more rewarding than Hal Holbrook attempting to save the day.
Yet I seem to be alone in this sentiment of disillusionment, as many still consider this folksy snooze fest to be a classic. Maybe it’s just me then, but when a film can dedicate several minutes to someone walking down the longest flight of stairs known to man, opening a gate and arriving at work; you’re hardly in the realm of cinematic gold. Let alone one to give you nightmares. No matter how much better it looks and sounds in this restored version.
To learn more about the cinematic re-release of Carpenter’s 4K restorations. See https://www.johncarpenter4k.co.uk/
Film Grade: D+
There are so many great features here, you’d think the film deserved it. Some are recycled, and other brand new. But for any fan of the film, you’d be hard pushed to find better coverage.
Special Features Grade: B+
You’ll beg for mercy.