The Blair Witch Project
In February 1785, a woman named Elly Kedward was accused of luring children into her home and drawing blood from them. Kedward was found guilty of witchcraft and banished from the village of Blair, Maryland. By the time of winter 1786, all of Kedward's accusers, along with half of Blair's children had vanished. Fearing a curse is upon them, the folk of Blair decide to flee.
In November 1809, a very rare book entitled 'The Blair Witch Cult' is published. Classified by many as fiction, the book describes how an outcast witch was tortured before her trial and goes on to curse the whole village. The book has seen better days, and only parts of the book can still be read.
In 1824, the town of Burkittsville was founded on the Blair site. With a population of 194, it was located in Frederick County, Maryland, and was approximately one hour from Washington DC.
During the years that followed, many strange and weird occurrences happened in and around the town of Burkittsville, with child murders and mutilations commonplace. In 1941, a man living in the town was convicted and hanged of murdering and disembowelling seven children in a ritual like manner. He claimed that it was at the behest of a ghost of an old woman who occupied the woods near his house.
In 1994, three student filmmakers ascended of the town of Burkittsville to carry out a clhappy project studying the legend of the Blair Witch. After interviewing the locals, they disappear into the woods never to be seen again.
A mhappyive manhunt is carried out to try and find the students, employing dogs, helicopters and a hundred men. A fly over by a department of defence satellite was even used! Ten days and 33,000 man-hours later, the search was called off. In fact, no trace was found of them until the footage they shot was discovered under an old log cabin a year later.
The Blair Witch Project was ground breaking, as it was the first time that a UL was created with the sole purpose to market a film. This low budget production used the power of UL's with maximum effect, and in doing so, achieved mhappyive publicity before the film was even released. The Blair Witch website supplies a formidable and extremely detailed history of the legend, giving a creditable background to the film. The film itself is stated as being the actual footage filmed by the students, shortly before they disappeared. The footage was found a year after their disappearance in an abandoned log cabin, and was titled 'The Blair Witch Project'. The whole set up was very believable, and instantly gave the film a cult status before it was even released! Of course, we all know now that the whole legend is an elaborate piece of fiction, a clever piece of marketing that was the brainchild of the film's writer/directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. Without a big budget to spend on advertising, they utilised the Internet to spin a unique piece of netlore; and it worked!
The film itself was produced in a unique way, and a selection of unknown actors were used to play the characters. The actors were told of the role of the characters they were portraying and the outline of the film, and then were dumped in the middle of the woods not knowing what was going to happen. Notes and supplies were left in strategic positions for them, and they were monitored by a Global Positioning System that helped keep track of where they were. The end result was unique film footage that has a home video documentary feel to it, where the emotions of true fear and horror can be seen quite clearly on the young actor's faces.
In truth, the film never actually lived up to the hype, although it did prove to be a popular topic for discussion after it was released due to the fact that public opinion was so vigorously divided. The infamous shaky camcorder footage has not proved to be everyone's 'cup of tea', but is essential to get that student home video feel that the film relies on.
The Blair Witch Project reportedly took a total of $240.5 million at the box office, and $140.5 million of that was from the US alone. To put these figures into true perspective, you have to understand that the film was made with hardly any budget.
The Blair Witch Project was one of the great successes of 1999, rated at 14th position for that year's top grossing films. It even beat off big budget blockbusters, with films such as Wild Wild West, American Pie, End Of Days, Entrapment and Big Daddy all finishing in lower positions.