Tag Archives: the fog

Bargain Bin(ge): Disc Replay (Indianapolis, IN)

As mentioned in an earlier post, Disc Replay is a small regional chain of buy/sell/trade stores, not unlike MovieStop or Replay’s that I have covered previously. Apparently Disc Replay’s primary stomping grounds are Illinois and Indiana, with a little bit of bleed-over into Iowa, Kentucky, and Michigan.

discreplayindy2After checking out the Skokie location of Disc Replay a few days prior, I decided to give one of their Indianapolis locations a shot on the way back home from B-fest.

What I found was a collection that was less impressive, but with notably better deals than the Skokie location. Whereas the Skokie store had movies ranging from 3.99-5.99, most of the DVDs here were between 2.22 and 3.33. On top of that, the standing deal at the Indianapolis location was “Buy 5, Get 2 Free,” compared to Skokie’s “Buy 5, Get 1 Free.”

discreplayindy1Given the quantity over quality theme of the store, I mostly picked up some relatively more common DVDs on the cheap. That said, there were still a few cool finds:

Sorcerer

William Friedkin is one of a handful of influential directors of the New Hollywood era that many believe never got out of the 1970s. In fact, many hold the opinion that his grand supposed master work, Sorcerer, was of the movies that killed the auteur paradise of 1970s Hollywood. After going over budget, it was vastly overshadowed by George Lucas and Star Wars at the box office in the summer of 1977, and some argue that Friedkin never recovered from the stumble. Personally, I think that Killer Joe and Bug are both pretty good recent works by Friedkin, and that he gets unfairly written off a bit these days. Also, people have been steadily coming to appreciate Sorcerer as a forgotten treasure of the era, so I am interested to give it a shot myself.

Frailty

Bill Paxton is an always entertaining character actor to be sure, who has popped up in everything from Aliens to Slipstream to Predator 2. However, Frailty not only cements him as a genuinely talented actor, but also as a more than capable director. If you haven’t seen this thriller, you are missing out. As an added recommendation, his director’s commentary on the DVD is fantastic. Also of note about this flick: Matthew McConaughey gets to show off his acting chops years before anyone took him particularly seriously.

Cop Out

Cop Out is undoubtedly the most maligned Kevin Smith movie, and the reception to it nearly drove the beloved indie personality out of the business all together. Bruce Willis reportedly didn’t care for the film at all from the start, Tracy Morgan was Tracy Morgan, and Kevin Smith was, for once, working with material that wasn’t his own. It was a bad formula all around, and the result isn’t good.

The Fog

I covered this John Carpenter classic a while back. However, I didn’t actually have a copy until now, so I’m happy to have it in the collection.

Popeye

This is another big time New Hollywood auteur flub. Robert Altman had a long up and down career with some high highs and some low lows, and Popeye is almost certainly one of his biggest dips. While some people hold fond nostalgic feeling towards it, the popular reception to the movie hasn’t softened quite so much in the way Sorcerer‘s has.

Mission To Mars

A while back, I covered a movie called Red Planet, which hit theaters in November of 2000. A few months prior to its release, another similarly-themed Mars movie hit theaters: Brian De Palma’s Mission To Mars. Neither movie was loved by audiences by any means, but I think that the proximity of their releases made audiences and critics react more harshly to them than they might have otherwise. Occasionally, movies with similar themes are released within months of each other, which has the effect of flooding the market. Some examples of this include Armageddon/Deep Impact, Volcano/Dante’s Peak, and The Abyss/Leviathan/DeepStar Six. Typically, the movie that comes first does better both critically and commercially. In this case, however, Mission to Mars and Red Planet were pretty neck-and-neck.

Moon 44

Moon 44 was a feature by Roland Emmerich before he became the Roland Emmerich we all love to hate today, who has helmed such masterpieces as Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. I’m interested to check it out, if only for the presence of Malcolm McDowell.

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

Captain Kronos is a classic Hammer movie that I’ve never seen before. That’s a good enough reason to pick up a cheap DVD for me.

The Fog (2005)

The Fog (2005)

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Today’s feature is the 2005 remake of John Carpenter’s 1980 film, The Fog.

The screenplay for The Fog was written by Cooper Layne, based on the original 1980 film penned by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. His only other writing credit at the time was the 2003 flop The Core, which has the distinction of being widely regarded as the most scientifically inaccurate movie ever written.  In the years since, he has not only had no writing credits, but no listed theatrical credits of any kind.

The Fog was directed by Rupert Wainwright, who had previously helmed the movies Blank Check and Stigmata. To date, much like Layne, he hasn’t worked on any other feature-length films.

The cinematographer for The Fog was Nathan Hope, who is known for shooting the horror sequels The Prophecy 3, Hellraiser: Inferno, and Mimic 2.

The film’s editor was Dennis Virkler, who has cut such films as Daredevil, Batman & Robin, Freejack, Under Siege, Xanadu, The Hunt For Red October, and Airplane II, among many others.

The musical score for The Fog was created by Graeme Revell, who has composed music for movies such as Sin City, Daredevil, Red Planet, Suicide Kings, Spawn, From Dusk Til Dawn, Tank Girl, and Street Fighter.

The producing team behind The Fog included the original 1980 creative team of John Carpenter and Debra Hill (Halloween, Escape From New York), Mark Cartier (Beowulf, The Core), Derek Dauchy (Marmaduke, The Master of Disguise, Anger Management), David Foster (The Thing, The Core, Hart’s War, Short Circuit), Todd Garner (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), and Dan Kolsrud (Mystery, Alaska, L.A. Confidential, Se7en, Falling Down).

The makeup effects team for the film included Jill Bailey (The Score), Rebeccah Delchambre (The A-Team, Fido), Chris Devitt (American Mary, The Wicker Man), Monica Huppert (Marmaduke, Slither), Michelle Lemieux (Slither, The Core), Toby Lindala (Supernatural, Lake Placid), Harlow MacFarlane (Sucker Punch, Mansquito), Shauna Magrath (Bordello of Blood, The 6th Day), Geoff Redknap (The Black Cat, The X-Files), and Toby Lindala (Dreamcatcher, Lake Placid).

The special effects work on the movie was done by a group that included Douglas Beard (Catwoman, Ghost Rider), Bob Comer (Willard, Fringe), Barry Hebein (Alone In The Dark, Slap Shot 3), Dan Keeler (Air Bud), Robert Lyle (Freddy vs. Jason), Eric Milner (House of the Dead), Ian O’Connor (Mystery Men, The Mask, Torque), Terry Sonderhoff (Bordello of Blood, The Good Son), Harry Tomsic (The Grey), and Robert Yeager (Catwoman).

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The team of visual effects artists on The Fog included Chris Watts (Waterworld, 300, Demolition Man), Colin Strause (Looper, Jonah Hex, Torque), Greg Strause (Volcano, Constantine), Karl Rogovin (300, 2012, Green Lantern), George McCarthy (Avengers, Speed Racer, Lost in Space, Sucker Punch), Scott Michelson (Looper, Torque, Constantine), Adam Lisagor (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Day After Tomorrow), Bill Kunin (Terminator 3), and Jeff Olm (Zodiac, Reign of Fire).

The cast for The Fog included Tom Welling (Smallville), Maggie Grace (Taken), Selma Blair (Hellboy), DeRay Davis (21 Jump Street), and Kenneth Welsh (The Aviator).

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Debra Hill, who was a co-writer and producer on the original The Fog, died of cancer just before filming began on this remake. She still received a producing credit on the picture, as well as a special thanks and dedication.

Before Tom Welling was ultimately decided on for the lead, a number of young actors were allegedly considered to star in the film. These included Henry Cavill (Man of Steel), Matthew Fox (Lost), Matthew Davis (The Vampire Diaries, S. Darko), Oliver Hudson (Nashville, Black Christmas), Peter Facinelli (Nurse Jackie, Twilight), and Ben McKenzie (Gotham, Southland, The O.C.). In other alternate casting trivia, apparently Fergie of the music group The Black Eyed Peas was at one point attached for a role in the film, but had to back out at the last minute due to a schedule conflict.

The lead character’s name in The Fog, Nick Castle, was taken from the man who played Michael Myers in the original Halloween for John Carpenter, which was his preceding film before 1980’s The Fog.

Reportedly, this remake of The Fog was green-lit by Revolution Studios before Cooper Layne’s screenplay was even finished.

The estimated budget of The Fog was $18 million, on which it managed to gross just over $46 million in its total theatrical run. In spite of it being a profitable movie, critics and audiences absolutely despised it: the film currently holds an IMDb rating of 3.6, alongside Rotten Tomatoes scores of 4% (critics) and 19% (audience). The production clearly anticipated a negative response, as it was not screened for critics before its release.

The first obvious issue with The Fog is the weak casting. Most of the leads were obviously pulled from television shows hot at the moment, rather than cast for their talent. Even worse, the fact that all of the stars were just hot for the moment at the time the film was made has made the movie dated very quickly.

As one review noted, The Fog suffers from one of the same problems as the original, in that “seeing ghosts is less scary than imagining them.” While the fog itself has an eerie effect, once again the figures within it just aren’t quite intimidating enough, and seem like an anticlimax to the build-up of the fog.

One of the major strengths of the original iteration of The Fog was the tense and eerie atmosphere, which was accentuated by John Carpenter’s musical score. Unfortunately, neither element is accurately replicated in this re-imagining, which generally comes off as flat and generic. Instead of something akin to Carpenter’s minimalist synthesizer score, the music is at once too complicated and indistinct, like it could have fit into any horror movie from 2005. Here’s a side by side comparison of the soundtracks of the original and the remake of The Fog:

Personally, one of my biggest issues with The Fog is that it focuses way too much on the backstory of the curse, which struck me as entirely unnecessary, and actually sapped some of the creepy mystique and menace from the threat. Even worse, a lot of the information is revealed to the audience right out of the gate, removing any potential element of mystery from the plot.

The Fog struck me as, above all else, not in the spirit of the original film. At the end of the day, it isn’t so much bad as it is immensely generic and poorly envisioned. There are some good things about it, but they are few and far between, and vastly outweighed by its mediocrity, poor casting, and sub-par writing. There aren’t any redeeming values to it as an entertainingly bad movie unfortunately, so there aren’t any compelling reasons to give it a watch (outside of the morbid curiosity of John Carpenter fans). I recommend just skipping right by this one, though the original is more than worth your time.

The Fog (1980)

The Fog (1980)

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Today’s feature is one of John Carpenter’s many cult classic films: 1980’s The Fog.

The Fog was co-written, directed, and scored by horror master John Carpenter as his follow-up to the smash hit Halloween, and was  co-written and produced by his frequent collaborator Debra Hill.

The cinematographer for the film was Dean Cundey, and accomplished shooter who has worked on such movies as Jurassic Park, Garfield, Flubber, Apollo 13, Hook, Road House, Back To The Future, Big Trouble In Little China, Halloween, Escape From New York, and many more.

The Fog featured work by two credited editors: production designer Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween, It, Fright Night 2) and Charles Bornstein (Halloween, Critters 2, Howling 2, Return of the Living Dead 2).

The distinctive musical score for The Fog was provided by director John Carpenter, something he often did for films he was involved with.

The team of producers for the movie included co-writer Debra Hill, Pegi Brotman (The Philadelphia Experiment), and Barry Bernardi (The Punisher, Christine, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Pixels, The Devil’s Advocate, Click).

The special effects team for The Fog included Rob Bottin (The Thing, Fight Club, RoboCop, Legend, Piranha, RoboCop 3), Edward Ternes (Clue, Wonder Woman), Erica Ueland (Children of the Corn, Halloween), Richard Albain Jr. (Assault on Precinct 13, Malcolm in the Middle), and James Liles (1941, Logan’s Run).

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The cast for The Fog included Tom Atkins (Maniac Cop, Halloween III, Creepshow), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Prom Night, Trading Places), Janet Leigh (Psycho, Touch of Evil, The Manchurian Candidate, Night of the Lepus), Adrienne Barbeau (Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Escape From New York), John Houseman (Rollerball, The Paper Chase), and Hal Holbrook (Capricorn One, Creepshow, Wall Street).

The Fog notably featured the mother and daughter acting combo of Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis, who have both had highly acclaimed acting careers. However, they only appeared in one other movie together: Halloween H20.

Special effects worker Rob Bottin plays the role of Blake, the lead ghost, in The Fog. He wound up being cast specifically because of his size after he expressed interest in taking an on-screen role in a John Carpenter movie. He would later famously head the effects team for John Carpenter’s memorable take on The Thing.

Director and co-writer John Carpenter was married to lead actress Adrienne Barbeau at the time The Fog was filmed, and the lead role was apparently written specifically for her from the outset. They divorced only a few years after the film’s release, in 1984.

In order the achieve the desired, surreal effect for the fog retreat sequences in the movie, the film had to be run backwards. This means that Adrienne Barbeau had to act in reverse for these sequences, a notable feat.

Reportedly, horror legend Christopher Lee was initially intended for Hal Holbrook’s character, but had a scheduling conflict that prevented him from taking it up.

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The Fog received a 2005 remake directed by Rupert Wainwright, but it was very poorly received by audiences and critics alike. Ultimately, it racked up an astonishing 4% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, along with an abysmal 3.6 rating on IMDb.

The Fog had a reported budget of just $1 million, and in total grossed over $21 million domestically in its theatrical run, making the movie significantly profitable.

While The Fog was not nearly as profitable or well loved by audiences or critics as Halloween, it is certainly a cult favorite for many. Currently, it holds a 6.8 rating on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 69% from critics and 63% from audiences.

First and foremost, The Fog has an excellently constructed, creepy atmosphere, which is effectively emphasized by Carpenter’s eerie score. Personally, I think that the music is an improvement on Carpenter’s previous work on Halloween, though that is a point that is certainly up for debate.

With the ghostly sequences, Carpenter makes very interesting use of light in conjunction with the eponymous fog, creating a lot of back-lighting, imposing shadows, and halo effects over the monsters. The obscured vision also keeps the tension high, as both the audience and the characters are never quite sure where in the fog the monsters are.

In his review, Roger Ebert pointed out a significant issue with The Fog: that “it needs a better villain”.

The problem is with the fog. It must have seemed like an inspired idea to make a horror movie in which clouds of fog would be the menace, but the idea just doesn’t work out in “The Fog,” …The movie’s made with style and energy, but it needs a better villain.

In general, I agree with this overall sentiment. Horror movies are almost always defined by the threat, and while the image of “The Fog” itself is menacing, the figures within it just aren’t quite scary or imposing enough. The fog effects certainly allow for a lot of horror ambiance, but it doesn’t feel to me like it ever really pays off.  The story is a bit too slowly paced to begin with, which certainly doesn’t help with the lack of viewer satisfaction, particularly in the minds of 1980 theater audiences expecting to see another Halloween.

Overall, The Fog is a solid atmospheric horror movie that has been perhaps unjustly buried in John Carpenter’s body of work. It may not be his best film (or even one of his best films), but it is fantastic on its own, assuming you can divorce it from the reputations of its predecessors and descendants in the Carpenter filmography. If you dig horror movies, you certainly owe it to yourself to give it a watch.