John Carpenter 4K Restorations: The BRWC Review

John Carpenter 4K Restorations

Remember the heyday of DVDs? That time when every single movie release was jam-packed with bonus features no matter how bad it was. While there has been a prevailing shift from physical media to streaming and digital downloads it seems that in the time of Blu-rays many awesome films have lacked the care and attention they’ve deserved, until now.

Lovingly restored and featuring a wealth of bonus materials, The Fog, along with Escape From New York, They Live and Prince of Darkness represent what some could consider the second string of Carpenter classics after Halloween and The Thing, which goes to show just how incredible the director’s films are, and their importance within the genre.

In the past week or so I’ve followed keenly as a bunch of publications have ranted about these amazing restorations I’ve noticed an overall lack of rally cry for The Fog. Sure, it doesn’t have the “beer and a pizza” cult power of Escape From New York, the Sci-Fi politicism and one-liners of They Live or the malevolent, weirdness of Prince of Darkness. Instead it silently creeps and eviscerates the nerves when watched by unsupervised children and adults alike.

As someone who discovered John Carpenter through a dusty VHS copy of The Fog at my grandparents in the early nineties, it’s safe to say the man left a lasting impression on my tiny, ten-year-old brain. Both the supernatural elements and the distinct score had a profound effect on me and influenced my Horror kinks. Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook and Adrienne Barbeau’s hair act the shit out of this eerie ghost story of revenge, lepers and damp weather. It’s a film I’ve owned on different formats over the years but the 4K restoration is a thing of beauty.

A natural evolution from the close-quarters horror of Halloween, The Fog shifts from a singular bogeyman to an ethereal malevolence that courts both the tangible and intangible. In spectral form the antagonists billow under doorways and cascade over buildings and vehicles. The visual effects here are simple but do an outstanding job of creeping across the town and over sets. Makeups and creature effects are utilised sparingly. Less is more, and the tension ratchets up despite a distinct lack of gore.

The disks contain audio commentaries, theatrical trailers, photo galleries, outtakes but the pinnacle of all of these is the brand new retrospective documentaries, Retribution: Uncovering John Carpenter’s The Fog, and The Shape of Things to Come: John Carpenter Un-filmed. Featuring talking heads from cast, crew and aficionados, these docs are a must for fans of the deep dive and offer new insights into the filmmaking process of the Master of Horror.

The 4K Collector’s Editions of The Fog, Escape From New York, Prince of Darkness and They Live are available now.

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Regular type person by day, film vigilante by night. Spent years as a 35mm projectionist (he got taller) and now he gets to watch and wax lyrical about all manner of motion pictures. Daryl has got a soft spot for naff Horror and he’d consider Anime to be his kryptonite.