Monday, December 22, 2008

The Travels of the Blair Witch

We jump from the story of the Bell Witch a few days ago to the more modern (albeit fabricated) mythology of the Blair Witch of Maryland today. On this date in 1974, Blair Witch actress Heather Donahue was born. Although she has appeared in other films and TV work since, she is known primarily for her work in the 1999 first-person/mock-doc horror film, The Blair Witch Project. She even went by her real name in the film to add a level of authenticity to her fictional "disappearance" in the storyline.

Though the most profitable independent film of all time and by all standards a smash-hit at the box-office, the film was met equally with as much disdain as it was acceptance. According to some interviews, Donahue bore the brunt of some of that and talked openly about being confronted my angry moviegoers and reportedly was even run off the road while driving once. Despite the backlash of the film, The Blair Witch Project maintains an impressive 85% positive rating on the review-monitoring service, Rotten Tomatoes.

Whether Donahue ever wants to revisit the film that subsequently launched and somewhat sabotaged her acting career or not, the locations behind The Blair Witch Project have become something of tourist attractions following the success of the movie. So whether you are a fan or only someone interested in the sites behind a movie, we have compiled this collection of four locations (as of right now) used in the making of the film.

Bearing the brunt of Blair Witch-inspired tourism was the small town of Burkittsville, Maryland. Aside from being the fictional former-home of the Blair Witch, it was the very real site of a Civil War battle that left its mark on the town and was a precursor to the very bloody Battle of Antietam a few days later. The battle's casualties were interred in the town's Union Cemetery, which also made an appearance at the start of the film and is said to be haunted these days by spirits that date back to the battle. The infamous "Coffin Rock" (where in the story's mythology a search party was discovered and ritualistically sacrificed) is to the south of the town, while the home of Rustin Parr (where the characters meet their fate at the end of the film) is over 40 miles to the east.

I admit I have a soft spot for The Blair Witch Project and first-person (where the camera becomes a character in the film) horror films in general. Aside from researching Dark Destinations, I also try to keep an eye on this relatively unknown sub-genre that existed well before the Blair Witch and continues to this day. To date, I have watched over 50 different films that were shot (sometimes partially) in the same format. We even cover more than a few locales used in the recent Cloverfield and will soon be adding some from the recent Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

In closing, I wanted to throw it out to all of you and find out which "first-person" horror films you enjoy... if any. Which ones are the best or the worst? You can even give your thoughts on The Blair Witch Project if you wish - What made it great/horrible for you?

-Casey H.


Curious Curandera said...

Merry Christmas!!!

Hollygoyle said...

Actually, The Blair Witch Project is one of the few horror films that really affected me. I think what made it so creepy was the realism (your point of first-person is right on) and the fact you never saw what got them. Movies where you never see the killer/monster/villain are so much more intense (i.e. Duel, Rosemary's Baby).

Yeah, Blair Witch freaked me out for weeks.

Toivoa ja Elämän said...

The Blair Witch Project scared me sooooo much =/
But I get scared really easily lol
+ I have a fear of forests