Pack your tents and sleeping bags, campers, because we’re going back to those deep dark woods that surround Burkittsville, MD.
Almost 20 years after The Blair Witch Project launched the found footage craze, you’d think there’d be nothing left to discover about this intensely analyzed movie—but you’d be wrong. In his latest video, our favorite Australian film critic/comedian Mark Bishop unearths 10 creepy and intriguing facts about the film that changed the horror landscape forever.
From abandoned concepts to happy accidents and missed opportunities, it’s a must-watch for fans of The Blair Witch Project, found footage horror, and the history of cinema. Give it a spin and let us know what you think in the Comments section!
If you can’t stream, the 10 scary things you probably didn’t know about The Blair Witch Project are briefly summarized below the video, followed by the film’s original trailer and synopsis. Enjoy!
1. There was no script for The Blair Witch Project. Co-writer/directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez had an outline, but they wanted their characters to improvise their lines. There was also very little directing or interference at all from the film crew.
2. The Blair Witch Project is legendary for its viral marketing campaign, one that convinced many moviegoers that what they were watching was real.
3. Myrick and Sánchez wanted to use the song We’ve Got to Get Out of This Place by The Animals in the film’s opening scene, but were unable to retain the rights. The record company probably regretted the denial when The Blair Witch Project became an international sensation.
4. The Blair Witch Project was nominated for a Razzie for worst picture of 1999. Of course, The Shining was also nominated for a Razzie in 1980, so it’s not like Hollywood execs have much of a track-record for identifying impactful horror movies.
5. The Blair Witch Project holds the world record for the highest grossing movie with the smallest budget. With a budget of only $60, the film eventually pulled close to $250M; that’s a quarter of a billion dollars! Each of the lead actors (Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard), by the way, received $8,000 for their work.
6. Burkittsville, the real town visited by the characters in The Blair Witch Project, was negatively impacted by the film’s unprecedented success. Visitors frequently stole signs and even headstones from the Burkittsville Cemetery.
7. Infamous close-up shot of Heather giving her final confessional was an accident; when turning the camera around to face the lens, she inadvertently pressed the Zoom button. The scene and the extreme close-up of Heather’s face, however, became the most iconic aspects of the film (as you can see in the poster at the bottom of the article).
8. After an 8-day shoot, the cast and crew of The Blair Witch Project had logged over19-hour footage. The first cut of the film was 2.5 hours long. Though trimmed to 90 minutes for its theatrical release, some of the excised footage ended up being used in the film’s marketing campaign.
9. In the original script for The Blair Witch Project, Heather and Josh were ex-lovers, a detail intended to add tension and intensity to the documentarians’ ordeal.
10. The Witch was supposed to appear in The Blair Witch Project, and an actress was on set. She was intended to appear briefly in a shot when the documentarians are running through the trees, but the cameras never panned over to her. In retrospect, it’s no doubt best that the witch was never confirmed. Now, what actually happened to Josh, Mike, and Heather is very much open to debate.
Official Synopsis: Found video footage tells the tale of three film students (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams) who’ve traveled to a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch, a legendary local murderer. Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale’s veracity. But the project takes a frightening turn when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing horrific noises.