As this Woody Allen film was going to be more expensive than one of his usual movies with the large cost of the set constructions, studio Orion Pictures mandated that Allen would need to also appear in the film himself to assist the picture with being bankable.
Based on a one-act comedy play called "Death", published in Woody Allen's "Without Feathers" (1972), the play and movie are themselves a pastiche of Franz Kafka's work in general, and of his novel "The Trial" in particular. The film was made and released not long before the 1993 version of Kafka's The Trial (1993).
According to website Every Woody Allen Movie, "Woody Allen screened the film with Orion Pictures president Eric Pleskow. Allen said 'he looked like he'd been hit with a mallet after he saw it'. Pleskow was apparently alarmed at the film's aggressive box-office unfriendliness".
This was the final Woody Allen - Mia Farrow film that the pair made together and released prior to the big scandal surrounding their break-up which played out during the release of their next and final picture [to date, July 2013], Husbands and Wives (1992).
Woody Allen's first full black-and-white film for seven years, Allen's last complete b&w movie having being Broadway Danny Rose (1984) in 1984. However, Allen's 1985 film The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), made and released six years earlier, was partially filmed in black & white.
Although billed on the poster, Fred Gwynne only gets one line. Similarly, Kate Nelligan - whose name also appears on the poster - only appears in long shot in one scene, shouting from an upstairs window.
After filming Love and Death (1975), the shoot was so difficult filming in Paris and Hungary, Woody Allen vowed never to shoot there again. Interestingly, considering this, Shadows and Fog (1991) is set in Eastern / Central Europe and was not shot there, but on huge sound stages at New York's Astoria Studios. However, Allen in later years has shot in Europe and England. Everyone Says I Love You (1996) was the first Woody Allen directed film since Love and Death (1975) to be shot outside of New York.
The stateside release of this picture was delayed due to the financial crisis of production house Orion Pictures. Foreign distribution rights for this film were owned by the Columbia Pictures studio, so the picture was easily launched in Europe first without any fiscal problems.
The film is based on Woody Allen one-act play "Death" which is included in Allen's anthology collection book "Without Feathers". Allen considerably rewrote and expanded this short play for this filmed version. According to the TCMDb, "many characters and incidents have been added, including the brothel and circus sequences. The film also has more of an overt philosophical dimension, and the character of the killer retains his basic menacing quality to the very end, whereas in the play the killer finally becomes a comic figure".
The film was loosely based on a Woody Allen play called "Death". The earlier Woody Allen movie Love and Death (1975) featured the Death character of The Grim Reaper. Allen is known to be inspired and influenced by Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman who had featured the Grim Reaper 'Death' character in his film The Seventh Seal (1957). Allen would also feature the Grim Reaper "Death" character in Deconstructing Harry (1997). According to website 'Every Woody Allen Movie', the killer character in Shadows and Fog (1991), according to many film reviews, was a representation of "Death" in a personified form.
The picture opened in a number of European territories during February and March 1992, anything up to six weeks prior to its main wide American release stateside in March 1992, though the film did have a limited opening in New York in December 1991.
Due to the movie's delayed released in some territories, this film and Allen's next picture, Husbands and Wives (1992), both being distributed via Columbia and Tri-Star Pictures in many territories, were able to be released on double-bills for re-run, sub-run and last-run showings.
According to the TCMDb, the film was "originally scheduled for release in United Kingdom October 23, 1992, but pushed back to 1993 to make way for Allen's controversial Husbands and Wives (1992) (USA/1992)".