Vengeful spirits and hidden aliens
Hot on the heels of limited theatrical releases, restorations of two cult items by John Carpenter have now hit Blu-ray.
The Fog ( ) saw the director following up Halloween’s phenomenal success with horror of a different stripe: an oldfashioned ghost story in which spirits from a ship that was led onto the rocks punish descendants of the plotters responsible.
Bottling lightning a second time proved tricky for Carpenter and his Halloween crew, with the director shooting additional footage after his first cut was a dud. He got there eventually, and some of the inserted material – like a lot full of cars blaring their horns – is among the best. Kudos is due to cinematographer Dean Cundey, whose atmospheric lighting renders silhouettes and clouds of dry ice deeply sinister, and to Carpenter for his mournful, minimal score. It’s a very straightforward tale though, and rather wastes Jamie Lee Curtis in a thinly sketched secondary role.
They Live ( ) resonates even more now than it did when it was made. Part commentary on the Reagan era, part Body Snatchers-style B-movie, it sees the emblematically-named John Nada (former wrestler Roddy Piper) discovering hideous alien overlords walking among us when he stumbles on sunglasses that reveal the subliminal messaging bombarding humanity, then launching a one-man mission to wipe them out, spraying bullets and laconic quips.
Piper is surprisingly plausible as this blue-collar beefcake, though an absurdly over-extended fight scene showcasing his ring skills brings things grinding to a halt. Bolting together paranoid satire and first-person-shooter action, it’s a movie you kind of hope not too many InfoWars viewers watch in case they read it as non-fiction…
Extras New on The Fog ( ): a solid Making Of featuring various crew and critics (45 minutes); a featurette on films Carpenter nearly made, but didn’t (nine minutes). A mid-’90s Carpenter/co-writer Debra Hill commentary is technical, but good for identifying the tweaks; a 2013 one teaming two cast/the production designer is more jocular. Plus: a detailed locations piece (28 minutes); an eightminute Carpenter interview and “scene analysis” from a 2003 French release; 1980 doc “Inside The Fog”; a storyboard-to-scene comparison; outtakes; TV ads; trailer; gallery.
They Live ( ) also weds a strong new retrospective (47 minutes) to a collection of old bonuses. The 2002 chat track teams Carpenter with an ebullient Roddy Piper. There are 2012 interviews with Carpenter, Foster and fellow cast member Keith David (27 minutes), as well as the original EPK/associated interviews with Carpenter, Piper and co-star Meg Foster. Plus: extended footage of TV ads from the film; real TV ads for the film; and an image gallery. You also get art cards, a poster and a booklet, while the four-disc 4K sets both add a soundtrack CD. Ian Berriman
The germ of the idea for The Fog came from some weather John Carpenter witnessed while visiting Stonehenge.
OBEY. CONSUME. STAY ASLEEP.