For those currently enamored with director John Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween, you’ll likely be even more impressed (and definitely more terrified) by what was his follow-up feature, 1980’s The Fog (followed a year later by Escape form New York). That film features a troupe of actors that Carpenter had worked with before or would work in years to come in an epic ghost story set in the seaside California town of Antonio Bay, where residents are still paying for the sins of their cursed past.
Out of theatrical circulation for years due to faded, unplayable prints, The Fog has been given a 4K restoration by its cinematographer Dean Cundey (Back to the Future, Apollo 13). The restoration has recaptured the movie’s crisp, colorful daylight sequences, as well as its murky, shadowy, creepy evening scares. With another winning, eerie score from Carpenter (who also co-wrote the film with Debra Hill), The Fog features such prime scene stealers as Adrienne Barbeau (as the town’s smokey-voiced DJ), Tom Atkins, Hal Holbrook, Nancy Loomis, Charles Cyphers, and even John Housman. Horror fans of the day were especially impressed with Carpenter’s generational scream queen nods, with the casting of Jamie Lee Curtis and her mother Janet Leigh in the film.
With nods to water-logged, haunted ship-related stories as well as H.P. Lovecraft, the movie features a creeping mist filled with bad news for those living in the town and a fair amount of slimy gore to liven things up. It’s a perfect Halloween-time watch, and the Music Box Theatre is featuring many evening screenings of The Fog (including Friday and Saturday, 11:30pm showings) through Thursday, Nov. 1. And from the bits of the restoration I’ve seen, it looks better than I’ve ever seen it on the big screen.