Reviews for region 1 discs
selected from Ultimate DVD #01
Just one selection from Ultimate DVD's brand-new Region 1 Reviews. In Issue #01:
  • The Matrix
  • Blair Witch Project
  • Prince of Egypt
  • Forces of Nature
  • The Rage: Carrie 2
  • The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection
  • The Mummy, and more...
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THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
Rated: R

Credits

Cast • Heather Donahue
Michael Williams
Joshua Leonard
Directors • Daniel Myrick and
Eduardo Sanchez
Duration • 87 mins
Screen Ratio • 1.33:1
Audio • Dolby 2.0
Chapters • 18
Languages • English
Subtitles • English
Release Date • Oct 22
Distributor • Artisan
Price • $29.98
The Blair Witch Project cover
Blair Witch Project picture copyright Pathé / Artisan
Feature © Visual Imagination Ltd 1999. Not for reproduction

The Movie

You know the story: in 1994 three film students hiked off into the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland to film a documentary on the legend of Elly Kedward, aka the Blair Witch. They vanished, but this footage was later found… Shot for $22,000 this brilliantly evocative independent wowed the critics at Sundance and went on to become perhaps the most profitable movie of all time. It’s overhyped perhaps, but nevertheless makes disquieting viewing and the three leads 4 starsdo a marvellous job at improvising sheer terror.

The Extras

It’s been said that when directors Myrick and Sanchez sat down to edit Blair Witch Project, they had around 20 hours of footage to work with. The off-cuts seem to have been saved for next year’s Director’s Cut; in fact only one previously unseen sequence makes it to this DVD, with the three principals bitching at each other in the tent. Repetitive and badly performed, it’s easy to see why it got the chop.

Fans will welcome the excellent Curse of the Blair Witch (45 mins, screen ratio: 1.33:1), the Sci-Fi Channel’s mockumentary which probes the myth surrounding Elly Kedward and the child killer Rustin Parr. Directed and written by Myrick and Sanchez, it continues the whole spooky charade, interviewing Heather’s ‘college professor’, Joss’s ‘girlfriend’ and Michael’s ‘brother’ as the mysterious disappearances are probed.

There are still photos, historic paintings, ancient records, faded newspaper clips and soundbytes from scientists, sceptics and believers – including the wonderfully named Dottie Fulcher. Clarifying some of the more nebulous points of the movie, Curse… is another example of the film’s unique marketing campaign and it’s a very clever conceit that’s easy to get immersed in.

Thankfully, Myrick and Sanchez finally admit that it’s only a movie in their commentary track, for which they are joined by producers Gregg Hale, Robin Cowie and Mike Monello. The voices of the five men are so similar it’s impossible to distinguish who is talking, but it’s fun to hear the gang’s anecdotes of trailing the three actors, building piles of stones in the middle of the night and making spooky noises in the woods. We also get the background on those remarkable Burkittsville locals – some of them genuine (like the eccentric Patricia DeCou), others hired extras – and learn that Donahue’s camera cost just $499. It seems that with The Blair Witch Project, what you see is pretty much what you get.

The grotesque clip-filled animated menu looks fantastic (and probably cost more to make than the movie itself) and you can access text on the Blair Witch mythology, biographies, the minimalistic trailers and a preview for The Stand. DVD-Rom users also get excerpts from the comic book and dossier and a map. Shot on primitive equipment, with a fullscreen ratio and Dolby 2.0 sound, the main feature’s technical shortcomings are emphasized by DVD 5 stars– a fact that will probably bother no one.

Highlight

Chapter 17 – Night 8
Heather and Michael search for Joss in the dilapidated remains of Rustin Parr’s house…

David Richardson

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