The picture depicts a supernatural takeover of the sleepy California coastal town of Antonio Bay by a band of ghost pirates seeking revenge for their deaths 100 years prior. They menace the entire populace, but for the purposes of this story, Carpenter focuses primarily on the DJ of the lighthouse radio station (Adrienne Barbeau, Swamp Thing), a hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her new lover (Tom Atkins, Halloween III: Season of the Witch), and the local priest (Hal Holbrook, Lincoln).
The slash-happy spirits appear as shadowy figures in rolling banks of fog. Beyond being unable to make out their features, what’s most ominous about them is that they stand ever so still. They appear not to move at all, yet one second later, they’re right in front of your face — or directly behind you — and then it’s too late. You don’t have a chance of surviving.
It’s a truly effective delivery system for fright. Gore inserts notwithstanding, The Fog is a good ol’ fashioned ghost story, making the campfire wraparound completely apropos as John Houseman’s storyteller keeps kids rapt with attention. First-time viewers will find themselves similarly engrossed. Like the author Houseman’s character is named after, Arthur Machen of “The Great God Pan,” Carpenter’s story is told with an assured sense of pacing and an unnerving sense of calm degenerating into dread. Patience is duly rewarded; The Fog can be every bit as scary as Halloween if you’re in the right frame of mind.
Surprisingly, Curtis calls it “not my bag” in a refreshingly frank interview that’s one of the new features to this “Collector’s Edition” set. For nearly 22 minutes, Curtis discusses not only The Fog, but the other movies that earned her “scream queen” status: Halloween, Halloween II, Prom Night, Terror Train and Road Games.
DP Dean Cundey also gets his say (and he deserves to, as this high-def transfer looks gorgeous), and there’s another segment of the location-revisiting “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” as seen on some of Shout!’s other Scream Factory releases. Those who own the original MGM DVD special edition will note its featurettes ported over, so there’s no reason not to upgrade. —Rod Lott