Director John Carpenter’s “The Fog” prides itself in being steeped in folklore, and takes on many of the classic traits we know as urban legends. Every urban legend has some source of truth to it and harbors a moral for its audience. “The Fog” creates a new urban legend from a horrific act of betrayal and human greed. Hence why the opening of the film begins with an old seaman regaling local citizens of Antonio Bay with the tale of the spirits on the sea.
Unfortunately for the folks of Antonio Bay, much about revenge and the sins of their fathers will come from the darkness of the sea to seek payback. Starring a roster of excellent genre actors like Hal Holbrook, Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Atkins respectively, Carpenter sets down on Antonio Bay, a seaside town that’s small but prosperous thanks to the acts of its forefathers who established the small civilization. For them things go from baffling to horrific as an almost unholy fog with a haunting glow begins seeping in from the sea and locals from the town begin washing ashore, many of whom were brutally murdered.
Carpenter relies on mounting tension and immense atmosphere to unfold this still creepy ghost tale that explores the viciousness of revenge. Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins play two travelers Nick and Elizabeth brought together by the eerie circumstances when they discover the corpse of a local fisherman. When the body begins taking on a life of its own signaling an evil omen, local radio DJ Stevie Wayne simultaneously begins to receive her own signals with her young son discovering a shard of a sunken ship that slowly harbors evil spirits that warn about the impending fog.
What begins as a gradual series of supernatural attacks culminates in to an all out fight for survival as everyone around the town is sucked in to the fog by its demonic denizens, while Nick and Elizabeth begin to uncover the secrets behind Antonio Bay and how the town’s whimsical origins were in fact drenched with blood and steeped in pure evil. As the local centennial looms for the town, Nick and Elizabeth have to figure out how to stop the fog along with Stevie Wayne who acts as the town’s eye from her perch in her lighthouse. John Carpenter’s ghost story still manages to hold up as one of his best genre entries with a searing sense of tension and mystery behind the clues leading to the source of the fog, and how greed and deception led to the conception of a monstrous force of nature.
Carpenter reveals his monsters sparingly as they ride along the currents within the mist and lure out their victims, ensnaring them with hooks and swords. One of the more terrifying moments involves Stevie Wayne’s son who watches the fog settle outside while his babysitter lurks at the front door and is pulled in violently as he barely notices she’s been dispatched. There’s also the teeth clenching race against the fog as it envelopes the town, leading many to seek refuge in the local church. “The Fog” has a few wrinkles here and there with occasional plot holes. If Hal Holbrook’s grandfather was a priest, how did he have children? I was also never sure why the ghosts could suddenly re-animate a corpse, if even momentarily.
That said, “The Fog” is still an eerie and wonderful tale of revenge and merciless ghosts from the past, and it’s a definite top ten holder for me. Scream! Factory releases a brand new edition with new cover art to celebrate the re-release, and restored picture for Blu-Ray and DVD. And yes you can flip over the cover on the blu-ray to the original poster art. Calm down, collectors. There’s a new interview with Jamie Lee Curtis, who discusses her work on “The Fog” and her early career as a scream queen, there’s an audio commentary featuring Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, and Production Designer Tommy Lee Wallace, as well as a retrospective with Director of Photography Dean Cundey who discusses his many works with John Carpenter.
Horrors Hallowed Grounds hosted by Sean Clark, explores the many locations from the film, and from prior releases there’s “Tales from the Mist” about the Fog and its production, ‘Fear on Film,” and a storyboard exploration of the film. There are also outtakes, and the original theatrical, and TV trailers, along with a photo gallery and more storyboards. Finally, there’s an audio commentary with writer and director John Carpenter, as well a writer Debra Hill.