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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( 74:14)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes - Newly Discovered Footage
  • 2 Teaser trailer - Australian Teaser Trailers
  • 2 Theatrical trailer - Australian Theatrical Trailers
  • Audio commentary - by directors and producers
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes
  • Animated menus
  • Documentaries - Curse of the Blair Witch and Blair Witch Mythology

The Blair Witch Project - Special Edition

Artisan/Magna . R4 . COLOR . 77 mins . M . PAL

  Feature
Contract

"In October of 1994
three student filmmakers disappeared
in the woods near Burkitsville, Maryland,
while shooting a documentary.

A year later their footage was found..."

Everything you've heard is true. Classified as "one of the creepiest films since The Exorcist", and as "scary as hell," The Blair Witch Project was hyped to be one of the scariest films of the 90's. Prior to its cinema release in the United States, The Blair Witch Project website was launched and created the hype for this creepy film. The website, still online today, offers many insights into the Blair Witch, and includes a detailed description of the rich mythology surrounding her. It was one of the most anticipated theatrical releases in the US, and scared millions of American audiences.

The theatrical release in Australia in early December 1999 scared "the believers," bored the "non-believers" and made anybody prone to motion-sickness nauseous. The film wasn't as big as it was hyped up to be, with many newspaper articles being published about the quality of the filming. The film was made on handheld cameras, and the film was made without tripods or camera support - what do these people expect? - a smooth, bump-free film? Rated MA for violence, language and a horror theme, the theatrical release did succeed, even against the harsh critics' reviews.

While not being the most technically advanced or boasting the best art direction, this film still does manage to scare audiences. If you go into watching this film for the first time thinking that it is real, it will scare the pants off of you. Watching this film on DVD is better than the cinema, as the camera shake effect has been lessened due to a smaller screen.

The Blair Witch Project follows three student filmmakers who are making a documentary on the local myth about the Blair Witch into the woods near Burkitsville in Maryland. But then, after getting lost, the hunter becomes the hunted. Alone in the cold, being hunted by mysterious noises and finding bizarre trinkets around their tent starts to set them off, but little do they know that this myth may be more than it's said to be. The film shouldn't need any more explanation - and can't have too much more without giving it all away. So turn off the lights, turn up the sound, cuddle up with someone and learn the secrets of the Blair Witch.

  Video
Contract

The video is in the original Australian theatrical format of 4:3, or 1.33:1. This fullscreen version is the theatrical release, but differs from the American DVD release which is 16x9 enhanced and in widescreen. By doing this, the American DVD has lost the top and bottom of the picture. For once the full screen image shows the complete picture!

This is an interesting video transfer to try to analyse, as the actual master film shot isn’t of a high standard to start off with. The scores given for this title have all been given taking away the fact that it was shot on handheld cameras that always produce a lot of grain. That is just the way the film is and hasn’t influenced the scores. But saying that, especially on the CP footage there is a large amount of grain, but nothing distracting as all of the grain adds to the authenticity of the footage and the atmosphere created by it.

There is some minor aliasing during some of the opening scenes, but this can always be expected when using a small handheld camera. On the CP footage, there are some minor artefacts, but they too add to the atmosphere of the film. There are a lot of solid black colours, and many different shades of grey used in the colour palette, especially during the night scenes. These all come up superbly, with solid definition and no MPEG artefacts.

This is a dual layer disc with the layer change occurring at 74:17, which is really bizarre as this is in the middle of the end credits. Surely there should have been enough room to store an extra minute of video?

  Audio
Contract

There are two audio tracks on this disc – a director’s commentary and English 2.0 Stereo, which is Surround encoded. This means that the same audio signal is sent out to all of the speakers to surround the audience to increase the atmosphere. The quality of the audio is superb, also given that the master isn’t of a high standard. However saying that, the audio does peak and distort many times throughout the film. But this can be expected, and given the quality of the master, the audio transfer is very nice, with the surround aspect just adding intensity to the film.

  Extras
Contract

This disc does offer a great feast of extra features, most of them of an incredibly high quality.

Audio Features - this page just shows the available audio features of the disc, including the option of the Director’s Commentary featuring Robbie Cowie, Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez (II), Gregg Hale and Michael Monello. This group of people includes the producers, writers and directors of the film, and all get along really well. The commentary itself is quite interesting to listen to, and quite humorous as well. It does offer interesting trivia about how things were shot and done, and is really informative on top of the notes also included on the disc.

Curse of the Blair Witch - this is the 50 minute documentary that was on television in Australia (and I presume America too) prior to the release of The Blair Witch Project in the cinemas. It focuses on the mythology surrounding the Blair Witch, and is really creepy to watch. This is one feature that can be watched before the film without anything being given away.

Newly Discovered Footage - this is a 5:10 long clip of the three characters inside the tent discussing the Blair Witch. Fairly boring, and it can be seen why it was cut from the film. But where are the deleted scenes that are always mentioned in the commentary?

The Blair Witch Legacy - This is a time line on 19 pages, each with background music, that tells the story and evolution of the Blair Witch mythology. This accompanies the Curse Of The Blair Witch documentary really well, as it highlights the major events in the Blair Witch myth.

Biographies - These are simple, uninformative and brief biographies on the main characters and the crew.

Notes - These are good notes to read, and are a good accompaniment to the commentary.

Easter Eggs - There is an Easter egg on this disc, but check out the Easter Eggs page to find out the details, rather than spoiling it for others here.

The menus are very slickly made, especially the main menu, and are animated with music. The Extra Features page is incredibly hard to navigate through as the options keep appearing and disappearing. The scene selections page is animated too, but doesn’t show animations from the film, rather just a list of the chapter names in the form of Day 1, Night 1, etc...

  Overall  
Contract

Overall, this is a very nice disc, and given the quality of the original footage, a superb transfer to DVD. The extra features compliment the film as well, and add another level of eeriness to the mood of the film. The film itself can be scary – depending on how sceptical you are. Whilst it may not be as classic as Jaws or The Exorcist, it does stand out as one of the better horror movies to emerge from America in the last few years. If you are a fan, it is a must-have disc, if you haven’t seen it then at least hire it to find out what you’re missing out on.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=865
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      And I quote...
    "A low budget movie that took the world by storm. Some loved it, others hated it, but nonetheless it does have the ability to scare."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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