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Default Blair Witch Project, The: Special Edition




Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: October 21, 1999

Released by: Artisan
Release date: 10/22/1999
MSRP: $14.98
Region 1, NTSC
Full Frame 1.33:1



A group of five filmmakers went out in 1997 and produced a film titled The Blair Witch Project. Little did they know that their small independent film that cost $22,000 would becomes the most successful independently produced film of all time, generating over $140 million in sales and still climbing. Now, Artisan has released The Blair Witch Project onto a special edition dvd. I'm sure we'll be seeing it breaking records once again with DVD and VHS sales.

The Story

inline Image In 1994 ... oh, nevermind, that's how everyone is going to open their damn reviews for The Blair Witch Project. Heather Donahue, Michael Williams and Josh Leonard are three students who are creating a documentary on the legend of the Blair Witch ghost. They start by interviewing local residents of Burkittsville, Maryland. Most locals dismiss it as a legend, but a few believe it to be real and one claims to have seen the Blair Witch and even goes on to describe its visual appearance.

inline Image The three make their way into the Black Hills Forest, which is the area where the Blair Witch has been reportedly seen. Things start off normal enough as they begin their hike into the forrest. However, they begin fighting amongst themselves as they begin to get lost deep in the forrest and hear strange noises at night. They end up passing through an area full of hanging objects consisting of twine and sticks. Some of the objects have a cross shape to them while others have a human-like shape. This escalates their fear as they continue their attempt to exit the woods and return home.

inline Image The situation worsens one night when something is directly outside of their tent, hitting the side of it. The students flee and hide in the woods until morning. When they return they find their belongings spread across throughout the camp site with some of the belongings covered in a jelly-like substance. Soon one of the students disappear and shortly thereafter the other two follow. One year later their footage is recovered and made into a movie: The Blair Witch Project.


inline Image Damn, this was one fine movie. I have to admit I didn't see The Blair Project when it first entered theaters. I had bragged to everyone that San Jose, the city in which I lived at the time, was one of the cities that would be playing the movie earlier than the rest of the country. I even went as far to take that Friday off from so I could be one of the first to see the movie. The night prior to that Friday my wife went out with some friends and actually got into a midnight showing to see The Blair Witch Project. When she came home she told me it was awful and boring. And for some reason I partially believed her. Now given the fact that my wife hates movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Evil Dead, wouldn't you think I'd be smart enough to NOT trust her opinion? Well, I didn't really trust her opinion but she killed my excitement for seeing the film.

inline Image This film had no gore at all. It didn't even show the ghost(s), yet it still managed to creep me out. I think the main reason is because it seemed so real. I could imagine myself in the situation. The film itself is setup like a documentary and it gives you the feeling that it really happened. That along with the low quality film they shot in makes you really believe that it's really recovered footage.

It's great to know that there are still future John Carpenter's out there, and that the horror fans of the world will still have quality films to look forward to. The Blair Witch Project gets an A in my book.

Image Quality

inline Image The Blair Witch Project is presented in its original theatrical ratio of 1.33:1. There is a black border that surrounds the entire picture. You can see it by the various screenshots I've posted on the review. However, I'm told this is normal. The image quality in the film itself is grainy during some of the night scenes and the colors are faded at times. The grain appears in color shots and the B&W shots. However, I can't fault the image quality on the DVD for reproducing how the movie looked in theaters. I've read enough reviews on the theatrical presentation of The Blair Witch Project to know this is the case. I did see some speckles here and there which may have been specific to the DVD. I'm going to give this one a B+.

Sound

Dolby 2.0 Surround sound which is exactly how it was heard in theaters. I've read too many complaints from people saying this should be in Dolby Digital 5.1. It's true the film could be remixed but this really isn't the sort of film where you need Dolby Digital 5.1. The primary sounds are coming from the filmmakers themselves or from the various noses they hear throughout the woods. I really don't think DD5.1 would add much.

The sound was crisp and clear. I could easily hear all the sounds being produced, down to the chirping of crickets.


Supplemental Material

inline Image The commentary was great. It consisted of producer Rob Cowie, writer and co-director Dan Myrick, writer and co-director Ed Sanchez, producer Gregg Hale, and co-producer Michael Monello. While it's sometimes difficult to determine who is talking I always find commentaries with multiple people to be more entertaining than someone doing it solo. You get an insight to the filming of the Blair Witch; they discuss some of the problems encountered and pointed out where scenes were cut. Very entertaining and definitely worth a listen.

inline Image There was some "newly discovered footage" thrown in as an extra. Apparently there is tons of extra footage for the film out there and it's rumored there's going to be another release on DVD that contains all of the deleted footage sometime in 2000. This piece they put into this release consisted of Heather, Josh, and Michael in their tent discussing their situation. It's nothing too exciting and it certainly wasn't a thrill to view.

inline Image Also included on the DVD is the documentary "Curse of the Blair Witch", which originally aired on the Sci-Fi channel when BW was being shown in theaters. It goes over the missing students and the entire history of the Blair Witch, how the curse first came about, who it effected in the future all the way up to the 3 filmmakers disappearance. I found it entertaining to watch once. Personally I don't think it'll spoil anything if you watch it prior to the actual movie.

inline Image There is an extra titled "Blair Witch Legacy" that basically outlines the premise of the "Curse of the Blair Witch" documentary. It lists off the history of the Blair Witch curse from it's origin up until the students disappearance.

Also included are theatrical trailers, cast & crew information, and production notes. This is all standard stuff, but I did enjoy going through it all. The only complaint I have with the extras is the extras menu itself. The titles in the extras menu fade in and out and they're a pain in the ass to read. They fade out after a second or two so it's really a pain in the ass.

Final Thoughts

This is a great movie. Any horror fan that isn't gore obsessed and can appreciate classics like Psycho and Halloween should enjoy this movie quite a bit. Given all the extras that are included, it's well worth the retail price of $24.98


Rating

Movie - A
Image Quality - B+
Sound - B+
Supplements - A-

Technical Info.
  • Color / B&W
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • 18 Chapter Stops
  • Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

Supplements
  • Commentary from producer Rob Cowie, writer and co-director Dan Myrick, writer and co-director Ed Sanchez, producer Gregg Hale, and co-producer Michael Monello
  • Curse of the Blair Witch documentary
  • Blair Witch Legacy
  • Production Notes
  • Teaser and theatrical trailer
  • Cast & Crew information
  • DVD-ROM: maps, excerpts from the "Blair Witch" dossier, images from the comic book

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