The Fog: Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray] John Carpenter

The Fog: Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray] John Carpenter
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One of the more interesting supplements on this comprehensive release of John Carpenter's stylistically interesting, but thematically dull The Fog is a new interview with "scream queen" Jamie Lee Curtis. After revealing Halloween was actually largely ignored and criticized before becoming a cult classic, she points out it was actually quite difficult for her to get work. Before taking this smaller role in The Fog, given to her by Carpenter mainly because he felt bad for her inability to land bigger gigs, she did episodes of The Love Boat and Charlie's Angels. Amusingly, she says she actually didn't like The Fog, but is careful to voice how grateful she was for the work, even though it was a peculiar shoot, working with Carpenter's ex, Debra Hill, alongside new girlfriend Adrienne Barbeau. Other older supplemental material with additional members of the cast is less candid and more publicity driven, talking excitedly about the distinction in style this horror film had from its predecessor, Halloween. In this aspect, the cast and crew are at least accurate, noting the more storyboarded, classier, slicker approach to this throwaway spook-fest. What isn't mentioned is the deliberately contrary morality of it all. Where Halloween was essentially a traditionalist boogeyman movie, punishing women for lascivious or abject behaviour, with a hint of whack-a-doodle, Freudian voyeurism tossed into the mix to criticize the very viewers titillated by the sensationalized material, The Fog takes a hard left turn to assert the opposite idea of moral righteousness. The story, which is basically that of a fog filled with leprous pirates coming into a sleepy seaside town and killing off people to avenge a theft that occurred long ago, is an unwitting criticism of the church. The film opens with a drunk priest (Hal Holbrook), vaguely hinting at a homosexual dalliance with a male employee looking for a paycheque. As things progress, we learn that the church may ultimately be at fault for the curse, suggesting a counter Judeo-Christian ethos guiding the thematic trajectory. Similarly, Jamie Lee Curtis's runaway, rich girl hitchhiker character has no problem hopping into bed with a man that picks her up (Tom Atkins), who, incidentally, is drinking and driving unapologetically at the time. These two characters are partial heroes, as is big-breasted radio host Stevie Wayne (Barbeau), a character defined mostly by her decision to abandon her son (sort of) to help everyone else in the city. Just as she's a crappy mother, Curtis is a bit of an indulgent free spirit, which, in the context of horror films, is peculiar to advocate. Since the scares are limited to the occasional bout of tension and utilization of empty, diaphanous on-screen space, this defiance of modernist (for 1980, at least) tropes was intentional. Seeing as Halloween would have been dissected as a cultural text around the time of production, it also makes sense that Carpenter and Hill would try to show some range as filmmakers, stepping away from the idea of populist thought. It doesn't make for particularly compelling cinema, but it's at least an interesting stepping stone in the career of one of the more intriguing and inconsistent cult filmmakers of the last 30 years. (Shout! Factory)