Archive for Blair Witch

From the archives…”Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2″

Posted in From the archives... with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2011 by Doctor Gash
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
(Released Oct. 27, 2000)  0 of 10 on the Gash-O-Meter
Director: Joe Berlinger
Starring: Kim Director, Jeffrey Donovan, Erica Leerhsen
Running Time: 90 minutes Rated: R
Budget: $15 million Gross: $47,737,094  One of the most disturbing films of recent memory. Not for anything the filmmakers attempted, just disturbing for the sheer lack of anything worth viewing. This is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Not only does it waste an hour and a half of your life with a disastrous offering, but it sullies the name of the original, which is a real gem. The fact this nonsense is tied to it is unfortunate. This is nothing short of a huge money grab, capitalizing on the incredible original.. Not only is this film horrendous, but it does damage to that which came before. DO NOT WATCH!!! If you do, you’ll be pissed. Terrible.

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Doctor Gash’s Top 10 Horror Movies…ever! #9 “The Blair Witch Project”

Posted in Doctor Gash's Top 10 Horror Movies...ever! with tags , , , , , , , on March 21, 2011 by Doctor Gash

Perhaps the most polarizing film on the Doctor Gash Top 10 Horror Movies…ever! is Number 9-The Blair Witch Project. I’ve heard many people talk about how they detested this film, that nothing happened, it was a waste of time. Not only is The Blair Witch Project undeserving of these criticisms, it was one of the most influential and profitable films of its time. On a budget of approximately what a decent luxury car costs, Blair Witch ended up bringing in nearly $250,000,000. Not a bad return on your investment. On top of the earnings, it solidified the “found footage” sub-genre of horror and best of all, thanks to a groundbreaking viral marketing campaign, many people thought the whole thing was real.

Much like the Number 10 film, Scream, The Blair Witch Project does not earn it’s spot solely for the content of the film. Thanks to an absolutely brilliant marketing campaign which included a Sci-Fi (Not yet Syfy) “documentary” about the missing filmmakers (which even included interviews with their “parents”) before the release of the film and an Internet buzz that surrounded the movie, The Blair Witch Project had audiences in the palm of its hand before it had even hit wide release. Some movie-goers actually thought they were going to see real footage that had been discovered by the police. The people behind The Blair Witch used the Internet as no one in Hollywood had before. And by doing so they had audiences ravenous to see their film. It’s a marketing strategy that is envied and copied relentlessly to this day.

And the trailblazing of The Blair Witch does not stop at its marketing campaign, it only begins there. The film also solidified an entire sub-genre of horror, the ‘found footage’ genre. This wasn’t the first film to use idea of ‘found footage’ (material discovered by police while investigating a crime scene). Cannibal Holocaust used the same idea in 1980 and there were a few films scattered between then and The Blair Witch that tried it, but it never really took. After the success of The Blair Witch Project we’ve seen countless movies that use this technique and do it well. Just a brief glance of the “found footage” film list reveals such impressive offerings as Diary of the Dead, Paranormal Activity/Paranormal Activity 2, Cloverfield, The Last Exorcism, [REC]/[REC]2 and August Underground’s Mordum. An entirely new way of presenting the story to the audience was embraced after Blair Witch.

So after the great marketing and creative presentation, what do we have? We have a film that is a study in tension. I feel the best horror films give you a balance of tension and payoff. You have your buildup scenes and then your payoff scenes. A few minutes walking through a strange dark house, paid off by a killer jumping from the closet and doing nasty things. Blair Witch was so adept at creating the tension, they never gave the payoff, and it didn’t matter. The movie taught us that great horror wasn’t about seeing the gruesome monster or the knife plunging right into the victim. It taught us that the journey was just as, if not more, important than the ending. Blair Witch was so tense with it’s creepy sound effects and strange occurrences that you were cringing in your seat waiting for something to happen. Well, it never really did, but does that mean you were never cringing? The Blair Witch Project scared us, but people rail against it because it never showed the antagonist. Would it have been better if we saw what was making all the crazy noises and toying with the filmmakers? Probably not. No filmmaker can create something scarier than we can conjure in our own minds. Only we know our own fears and it’s through this that we fill in the blanks for Blair Witch.

Overall, the film is amazing. As they are lost in the woods it has an incredibly claustrophobic feel, even though they are outdoors and completely free. Stephen King has proven time and again that being ‘trapped’ is the most horrific scenario. He’s used the idea repeatedly (Misery, Gerald’s Game, Cujo). And our three filmmakers are trapped, unable to find their way back to the car. Walk south all day, guess what, right back where you started and you’re in for another night of strange noises and freaky happenings. Welcome to the world of the Blair Witch.

The Blair Witch Project is a basically improvised piece of work, adding to the authentic feel of it. The director/producers really challenged the actors physically during filming (rationing food, keeping them in the elements) to enhance the tension. It worked. Their ad-libbed dialogue felt real. It worked perfectly. It all worked so perfectly.

Although it has its critics, The Blair Witch Project was groundbreaking. Not only for it’s unique filming style, but for its brilliant marketing campaign that has been and will be copied for years to come. The movie was so masterful at building tension that it never had to give the “money shot,” audiences were uncomfortable enough with what was happening to the lost movie makers that no further aggravation was required. However, when they got to the basement of Rustin Parr’s cabin and Mike was standing in the corner, an iconic image was created. For ’90’s horror, this was your moon landing, your Zapruder film. It’s the culmination of a perfectly original horror experience. An amazing ending for one of the most unique and effective horror movies ever.

Doctor Gash’s Top 10 Horror Movies…ever!–Number 9–The Blair Witch Project

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