100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Seventy-Nine - "The Blair Witch Project!"

"WOW! SOMETHING YOU NEVER DREAMT YOU'D SEE ANYWHERE! WARNING! Girls should NOT come alone! You will have nightmares for a week! But the management will stop the show anytime it becomes TOO SCARY!"

Good Mourning, my minions! 'Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world! (And very tired bloggers start quoting Shakespeare.) Actually it's just south of the witching hour, but Your Humble Narrator is up and at it! Got piss drunk Friday night on pumpkin beer and pumpkin spice-flavored whipped creme made with 18.75 percent grain spirits. Let a brotha tell ya - that shit's nots to be fucked with. Nots to be fucked with. Then I got up at six a.m. wide awake and feeling like a sex crime victim who'd been gargling gasoline all night long. I proceeded to guzzle pot after pot of coffee in an effort to ward off exhaustion and it just barely worked. I spent the rest of the day decorating, watching Halloween specials on DVD and enjoying yummy cookies and sipping Apple cider!

And now I cannot sleep, so I am writing tomorrow's blog now and will post it later, because I am bored and I love to talk about this film. So you folks sit back at a more reasonable hour and check out this modern classic - "The Blair Witch Project!" Rave on readers and thanks for playing!

The Blair Witch Project (1999): Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. Starring Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael C. Williams.

The Skinny: When a group of film students researching a local legend disappear into the woods surrounding the Black Hills in Maryland, they are never heard from again. Years later, however, their film footage is found and their last five horrifying days are now revealed.

What's Good: Like the best mystery and suspense masters in the industry - like "The X-Files'" Chris Carter and Alfred Hitchcock - directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez know what to reveal and what to conceal. And rightfully so, they conceal just about everything here. We never know exactly what is stalking our three heroes or how it is that they got lost in those woods. And like my son has said repeatedly - this movie is scary because it could happen to me. And that's true; while there isn't exactly acres and acres of unexplored land in America, it is quite easy to get your ass lost in the woods, even with cell phones and GPS. And because there is no snarling latex beastie or no CGI-generated ghost - because there is nothing but the panicked screaming of Heather Donahue as she charges blindly through the woods - it's easy to believe that something is happening to these poor people that is beyond reality. The film in anchored by the incredibly real performances by the three lead - and really only - actors, who at no time seem like anything more than unprofessional student filmmakers shooting a documentary. While this lack of seeming "talent" might turn some people off and otherwise damage the film, here it works to perfection. And you can complain about Donahue's screaming or make fun of it all you can - when she cuts loose, it is raw and real and absolutely chilling.

What's Bad: The shaky camerawork gets tiresome after a while - in fact, one friend said she had to leave the theatre because it was giving her motion sickness. Also, it was shot on video and 16mm black and white, so there are more stock changes than an Oliver Stone film, and sometimes those juxtapositions work and sometimes they don't, but that's sort of the purpose here - this is supposed to be "found footage" assembled on the fly to show what happened in their final hours. And also, it's clear that there was no money to pour into this thing - the directors were borrowing from their friends, maxing out credit cards and taking out second mortgages to finish this sucker. So if you're unconcerned with things like a big budget and special effects and just want to see what a few dedicated artists can do with two cameras and some sound equipment, then you're in luck.

Why We Like It: Because even as an adult with finely developed reasoning skills, I found myself terrified by this film. And like I said, it's because there is no great toothy monster or undead specter chasing these kids - we don't KNOW what is chasing them. There is a scene where they are awoken in the middle of the night to the sound of children laughing and then their tent starts shaking violently. As they dash out into the cold half undressed and running for their lives, Heather turns to the left and screams "OH MY GOD! WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!" Something in her voice is real and honest - there is true fear and, yes, horror in her tone, like she really DID see something inexplicable in those woods. And who's to say she didn't - I wouldn't put it past Myrick and Sanchez, who used bizarre tactics when making the movie. In fact, the filmmakers deprived the actors of food, kept them awake for long hours, and kept them in the dark about where they were headed the next day in an effort to make this picture seem as real as possible. And I would have to say they succeeded in spades.

Memorable Stuff: The above scene where Heather sees whatever it is she sees terrifies me to no end. And there is also her tearful, snot-nosed confession to the camera before their final night that has been made fun of on endless occasions but still hits on a powerful level when you see it in context. But I have to say, the final five minutes are the most terrifying five minutes ever set to celluloid. And the final penultimate image - Mike standing alone in the corner of the basement of an abandoned house as Heather screams and screams - gave me fucking nightmares. Nightmares, people. I'm scared just sitting here thinking about it.