The moment that Halloween hit the big screens in 1978, John Carpenter cemented his place as one of cinema’s most intense, imaginative, influential, and successful directors.
This October, STUDIOCANAL will be celebrating the work of the Master with a batch of all-new 4K restorations of his work, alongside some limited theatrical releases. Celebrated artist Matt Ferguson has provided brand new artwork for each release and a 4-disc collectors set, featuring a CD of the film’s seminal soundtrack, performed by Carpenter himself, will also be available.
First up is The Fog, which will receive its restoration premier at the London Film Festival on October 15th. From October 26th, They Live and Prince Of Darkness (also receiving the STUDIOCANAL restoration treatment) will screen as a precursor to a Halloween one-night special screening.
The Fog is based on a screenplay by Carpenter, and is set in the sleepy town of Antonio Bay, California which is getting ready to celebrate its centennial year. But, as the residents of the tight-knit community begin to prepare for the festivities, a mysterious cloud of fog appears upon the shore and begins to creep its way across the town, leaving a trail of horrifying slaughter that hints at a deep, blood-soaked secret from its past.
Despite sharing its name with the James Herbert book, Carpenter claimed that the inspiration for the film came from that British horror classic The Trollenberg Terror in which a town is terrorised by otherworldly beings in the clouds. However here the horror is supernatural rather than extraterrestrial, giving the whole set up a delightfully camp-fire horror story feel.
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween) and her mother Janet Leigh (Psycho) are sadly under-used and Tom Atkins’ Nick Castle seems to be a curious Jack-of-all-trades who drifts through the film being everyone’s confident and saviour for no particular reason. The plot, too, seems to break its own rules: vengeance is dished out arbitrary, not to those who may be said to deserve it by virtue of their ancestors perpetrating the original crime. However, Niggles aside, The Fog is a classic for a very good reason: John Carpenter’s skill as a director.
[SPOILERS] This is Old School horror, with slow-burn reveals, shocks, and a satisfying ending. The addition of John Houseman’s introduction adds serious class to the whole enterprise. While Adrienne Barbeau, as radio host Stevie Wayne, plays the gutsy Carpenter heroine to the max, as she narrates the night’s horrors to her listeners from her lighthouse eyrie. There’s gore—yes— but it’s never sadistic or voyouristic. And while The Fog never reaches the giddy heights of Halloween, it uses many of the same tricks and techniques to great effect. If you’re a horror fan, then STUDIOCANAL’s lush restoration makes this one for the collection.