Monday, 9 May 2011

Review - The Fog (1980 - Dir. John Carpenter)

If there's one thing that instantly endears a film to me, it's fog. Loads of lovely fog. Fog creates a brilliant atmosphere. Fog films are great.

That brings us nicely to The Fog. Not the 2005 remake, which I haven't seen but it does look like a piece of old rope. When I watched this years ago I was disappointed. Directed by John Carpenter of Halloween fame, I was expected some fairly harsh scenes. Well, there aren't any really. Watching it now, on its own merits, it's surprisingly good. 

The opening scene of an old salty seadog telling ghost stories sets the tone. This is a ghost story and as such doesn't really need the gore. There are some fairly tense scenes. Some are cliched, for example, a car that is stuck in a rut while ghosts creep forwards to attack with their evil hooks. But the acting, music and spooky ghost design pull you in. I love the way that you never see the ghosts' faces up close and in detail. It makes them a lot more menacing.

The cinematography by Dean Cundey (Halloween, The Thing) is gorgeous. There is some excellent use of lighting to create tension and scares. Dark corners of the frame are used to great effect. The shot of Adrienne Barbeau walking down steps to a lighthouse is stunning. The camera lingers over the view to let you fully appreciate it. Worth the price of the Blu-ray alone. 

The effects of the fog are effective up close but the long shots of the fog creeping into the bay look shonky now. Possibly a time when CGI would be better? The make up effects on the zombie-like ghosts by Rob Bottin are really creepy and he knows that less light is better for practical make up effects; if you watch the documentary on The Thing DVD you learn that he makes these fabulous creations and he would prefer it if there were no light on them at all! Quality fella.

Although there is no gore, there are a few scenes that make you go 'oof!'; the final shot being one of them. So, if you go into this without high expectations you will probably be pleasantly surprised. Don't think that you're going to get any extras on the Blu-ray though. I don't count audio and video set up as an extra really. Does anyone?

If you like this you could try:
The Mist, Silent Hill, The Thing, The Prince of Darkness 

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