DING! DING! Foghorn! SCREAM! Round One
There are multiple festivities marching around the calender year, representing different nations, faiths, events and even different New Years. Christmas is probably the big one for most, but my real Christmas of the mind, soul, heart and inspiration is always the BFI London Film Festival (yet another FANTASTIC year this year too).
But there’s also some other gems that spontaneously arrive like a festive cinematic pop-up shop in your home, just like when the always AWESOME folk over at StudioCanal announce the imminent arrival of 4K Blu-ray versions of… anything really. This time however, it’s from the catalogue of the man who has created some of the most profound effects on horror cinema (writing/directing), cinema itself, and indeed movie scores forever more, that man is the one and only John Carpenter. The very person who invented Halloween itself, well at least the horror movie series.
The 4K release list includes the true classics of The Fog, They Live, Escape from New York and The Prince of Darkness. Not only are they available in updated high definition (scanned from original negatives and with overflowing cemeteries worth of extras), but there’s some limited screenings on over the Halloween period too, which will make up for decades of repeatedly watching them all on much smaller screens.
Focusing today through the damp, cold eery mist, we have The Fog (1980), which to this day still creeps the hell out of me in the best way possible.
This is the film that Carpenter made straight after the (now) phenomenon that was to become Halloween (1978). He directed it, created the score for it, and wrote the screenplay with the also brilliantly talented Debra Hill (they had written Halloween too), and it’s effectively and VERY effectively a camp fire horror story, which indeed in the first scene.
Antonio Bay is an idyllic and extremely beautiful, quaint sleepy Californian fishing town. Life is simple, tanned, bright white smiles with hard working folk going about making an honest Norman Rockwellesque living. That wouldn’t make for much of a horror movie, so clearly that’s going to go to hell, with blood splattered dentistry.
It’s the 100th centenary of the birth of the town and the celebrations are being prepared to give them all a night to remember, and my how true that will be. Most normal gate crashers can be dealt with pleasant chat and normally not requiring any human sacrifice, but not when it’s the gates of hell crashers getting their kicks from impaling folk on fishermen’s hooks.
Strange, unnerving things start to happen as the true nature of the founding of the town literally comes back to haunt them. Fog normally restricts the ability to see things, but not in this case, the glowing fog that rolls in off the sea makes the truth horrifically clear. The sea skeletons have really come out of the sunken closet, and they want to party, painting the town steaming blood red.
READ STEVE’S REVIEW OF ‘AN EVENING WITH BEVERLEY LUFF LINN‘
It’s not more complicated than, but that belies the effect of it all. It was always a slow creeping dread of a movie, like those nightmares of running in quicksand and not being able to outrun the dawdling predator. It had a bigger budget than Halloween, but still for relatively meagre funding, it’s a stunning looking movie (practical effects to the max). The cinematography is glorious, with most of the film being iconic moments and set pieces. The sound production is horrifying in itself (even more so with digital sound), and of course Carpenter’s fantastic score twitching our creepy as heck bone all the way.
With an amazing cast of Jamie Curtis, Janet Leigh (Jamie’s mum), Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Halbrook and Tom Atkins wonderfully carrying along the thrills, ocean side peril and unnerving dread, this is classic 80s horror at it finest.
And we haven’t even mentioned the extra disc(s) (depending on what format you chose, the 4 disc has the soundtrack too), to be honest, the new Ballyhoo Motion Pictures are worth the purchase alone, wonderfully presented, with a ridiculous amount of interviews, insights and audio commentaries, all of which basically made me feel that I actually knew nothing about one of my favourite horror movies. Let’s just say I know a hell of a lot more now. Oh! And NEVER take a lift on any boat called The Seagrass…
10/10 The Fog is out on eery as damp Hell on a fishing boat 4k Blu-ray from 29 October. There are also special Halloween screenings from 26 October, check https://www.johncarpenter4k.co.uk for details.