Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factorized: THE FOG Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Scream Factorized: THE FOG Blu-ray

Watching Stevie Wayne(Adrienne Barbeau) look out over the ocean from the window of her lighthouse/radio station, it dawned on me how Hitchcockian Carpenter's THE FOG is. I'm sure it's obvious to say, and I'm sure many have before, but for some reason it resonated a lot more this viewing. I'm pretty sure it dawned on me in prior viewings, but the BIRDS vibe is palpable. A small coastal town in California is the locale for each. Both towns are descended upon by a killer force. Ok, maybe those are the main similarities, but being that I'm a big fan of THE BIRDS, maybe I was looking for it. The presence of Janet Leigh can't help but conjure Hitch a little though. Hitchcock feels like an ingredient just as 50s scifi movies like THE BLOB do as well. Carpenter makes both things his own though and that's always been something he's extraordinarily good at.
Anyway, I've been a lover of John Carpenter films for a long long time. At least since the summer of 1986, when my best friend at the time and I saw BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA in the theater back-to-back - two days in a row. That movie blew my mind as a 12 year old. It had so much packed into it and was one of the most satisfying theatrical experiences I've ever had. It wasn't until high school that I'd come to realize who Carpenter was. I saw HALLOWEEN and THE THING around that time and I was forever hooked.
Fast forward to years later, I was working in a video store in college. THE THING could always be found on my staff picks shelf. Somehow, I'd never seen THE FOG at that point so I finally rented it. I seem to recall being underwhelmed by it. I might have even found it boring. My love of Carpenter would continue on through the years beyond that point, but I would revisit THE FOG until its DVD release circa the summer of 2002. Upon that rewatch I warmed to it considerably, but it hasn't won me over completely. Around 2006 or so, I discovered the Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema podcast(which became a favorite of mine). One of the earliest episodes I remember hearing was one where they covered THE FOG. They both liked the film and their discussion of it put me in the frame of mind to visit Antonio Bay another time. When I did so, something just clicked into place. I loved it. The mood, the slow burn, the supernatural elements - it all came together in this beautiful way for me. It was a wonderful thing to sort of 'rediscover' this gem within the filmography of a director I already adored. I had heard that Carpenter had had trouble with the film, had had to do a bunch of rewriting and reshooting to get it to a better place. I sincerely feel like he made it work. I've watched the film many times over the past 7 years and it only gets better for me each time. It is truly part of John Carpenter's "golden period". He had a nearly unrivaled run of amazing films from the early 70s to the late 80s. Just a glorious output. Obviously, HALLOWEEN is a near masterpiece in my eyes. My 2nd favorite of his movies after THE THING. HALLOWEEN, THE FOG & ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK were films wherein Carpenter collaborated with the late great Debra Hill. Even though he made some great films after this collaboration ran dry, I often wonder how big an impact on the greatness of those three films that Hill had. My sense is that she really was this amazing creative force that isn't quite recognized enough. It makes me think of other male/female film combos that made for movie excellence. Peter Bogdanovich and Polly Platt, George and Marcia Lucas and of course Alma and Hitch. Perhaps I'm elevating this duo more than is called for, but they really made some outstanding flicks that's for sure. Debra Hill can be heard with Carpenter on the commentaries for this film and for HALLOWEEN as well. Both tracks are recommended.
This Scream Factory Blu-ray is just gorgeous. Another collaboration that is one of my favorites in all of cinema is between John Carpenter and cinematographer Dean Cundey. They worked together on five films or so and they all look fantastic. As for extra features, it's loaded with new content and old stuff ported from the MGM dvd special edition. I know from this FEARnet interview that the guys at Scream Factory(esp marketing director Jeff Nelson) are huge fans of THE FOG so they really did it up right: 
 NEW Exclusive Scream Factory Extras:

  • New HD transfer of the film supervised by Cinematograper Dean Cundey
  • Exclusive interview with Actress Jamie Lee Curtis discussing The Fog and  her legendary early 80s horror career.
  • Audio commentary featuring Actress Adrienne Barbeau, Actor Tom Atkins and Production Designer Tommy Lee Wallace.
  • Retrospective interview with Director of Photography Dean Cundey about his collaborations with John Carpenter over the years.
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – A Look At The Film’s Locations.

Extras from the MGM prior release include:

  • Tales From The Mist: Inside The Fog Featurette
  • Fear On Film: Inside The Fog Featurette
  • The Fog: Storyboard To Film Featurette
  • Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailers & TV Spots
  • Photo Gallery and Storyboards
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director John Carpenter And Writer/Producer Debra Hill 

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