When The Blair Witch Project was released in 1999, audiences around the world were disturbed by the film's shocking realistic style. The home movie technique was, at the time, completely unknown territory for the horror genre. And as such, it scared the living shit out of us!
The apparently "found" 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. But all goes awry when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing terrifying noises.
Watch the trailer for 'The Blair Witch Project' to get in the creepy mood below.
The movie is one of the most well-known scare flicks of all time, but despite that, little is known about the making the movie, nor about the true story that the film might be based on.
So, just for you, here are 8 insane facts about The Blair Witch Project!
1. The three teenagers are alive and well
The premise of the movie is that we're watching the unedited footage of three teens who went missing following a disturbing spell lost in the woods.
Of course, most of us knew that this wasn't true and that it was simply a very good marketing technique to drum up interest before the film premiered. But it turned out to be so good that, 16 years later, some people are still convinced the film was real.
The film was so terrifyingly realistic that Heather Donahue's mother received sympathy cards from people who genuinely thought her daughter was missing.
2. But they truly were convinced the woods were haunted
All of the scary things that supposedly happened in the woods outside of Burkittsville - the witch, the man who kidnapped kids - was completely fabricated by the filmmakers... but the actors didn't know that!
They were aware they were making a movie about a witch, but they were led to believe that the witch was a real historical figure. The crew even planted hidden actors in town to give credibility to myths, who were then interviewed by Heather at the beginning of the film.
3. Moviegoers were throwing up in the cinema!
The handheld camera, "found footage," technique was completely new to mainstream cinema. It undoubtedly added an extra slice of horror to the movie but audiences at the time were't used to the violently shaky camera movement. There were many reports of people throwing up in the theater due to motion sickness.
4. It took just 8 days to shoot
Because all of the shooting was done by the actors themselves, there was no need for a huge camera and sound crew. This meant that the directors were unhampered by the usual logistical delays and managed to get the whole thing shot in just 8 days!
5. The director purposely ratcheted up on-set tension
To build the intensity of fear and tension on set, the actors were deliberately and unknowingly given less food each day of shooting.
6. And genuinely scared them
When filming the scene in which the actors are sleeping when something starts violating shaking the tent, the actors were genuinely scared. This was unscripted and they had no idea what was happening. Directors Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick were the ones responsible!
7. It inspired people to make their own horror movies
The film had such a profound effect that the 1999-2000 hunting season suffered as a consequence. Fans all over the United States began hiking into the wilderness to shoot their own documentaries which scared the wildlife from popular hunting sites!
8. It might've been based on this terrifying true story
In the winter of 1785, a woman named Elly Kedward was banished from the town of Blair after being accused of witchcraft. She was later presumed dead from exposure, but the next year, all of her accusers vanished...
Forty years later, nearby town Burkittsville held its first annual Wheat Harvest Picnic. At which, a ten-year-old girl wandered off and drowned. Eleven eye-witnesses claimed to have seen a ghostly white hand reach up and pull her into the shallow water. Her body was never found, and for thirteen days afterward, the water was contaminated with oily bundles of sticks.
This is when people started to blame it on the Blair Witch.
In late 1940, a hermit named Rustin Parr began abducting children from Burkittsville. He kidnapped eight children in total and brutally murdered seven of them. Parr confessed to the crimes but claimed he was doing what an old lady ghost told him. Parr was convicted and hanged later that year.