Transcript: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Transcript of 70mm’s The Blair Witch Project (1999) Episode.
SLIM Hey, it’s your old pal Slim. And this is 70mm, a podcast for film lovers. Every Monday, I’m joined by dear friend and artist, Danny Hass.
DANNY I would do nothing until the day light. There’s no way. Fetal position until morning. That’s exactly what I would be.
SLIM And our spiritual advisor, Protolexus.
PROTO [Proto panting] I’m so scared! I’m so scared!
SLIM And together as friends forever, we discuss recently watched movies. Later in this episode, we cover one of the most successful independent movies of all time, The Blair Witch Project. Did Proto sit through the whole thing for his very first viewing? Find out… now.
[70mm theme song ramps up, plays alone, fades out]
SLIM It is Halloween season! And we put out a survey to our patrons — our amazing 200+ strong patrons. And there was one thing among the group that jumped out at us. It’s time to do another vote.
DANNY Oh gosh.
SLIM So it is now official that we will be doing the Masters of Horror voting bracket for the final week of October. You choose the movie we do. Proto, please tell us more about this.
PROTO Yeah, we wanted to let the patrons in and to choose one of the movies for the month of October, because it’s so much fun. And you know, they just fight with one another for weeks on end. No one’s happy. And somehow we’re the bad guys. So it’s a great time. [Danny laughs] Looking forward to experiencing that once again. But yeah, this list of movies, we were just kind of chatting about it like, hey, let’s get big directors in here. You know the ones everyone knows, like Carpenter, Romero, Argento. The Big Ones, as they say.
PROTO Hitchcock’s in here.
PROTO So we’re doing a Sweet 16. And just just to give you a taste, you know, the first round we’ve got the movie Raw.
DANNY Never heard of it.
PROTO Nightmare on Elm Street, which you probably have heard of.
PROTO Then we got to match up — listen to this. Hitchcock’s Psycho versus Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone.
PROTO This is real. We also got — you know, we’re doing something new. We got the Candyman. Not the 90s Candyman, we got the 2021 Candyman in here.
PROTO Versus Evil Dead. We’ve also got American Psycho, the original Suspiria. So who knows what it could be? Just a lot of great movies. I’m really — I don’t think I’ve seen any of these movies. So it’s a win-win for me, no matter what movies picked. So I’m excited.
SLIM I don’t know what the situation is going to be for the vote for American Psycho versus Suspiria. I feel like people are going to lose their minds.
DANNY I mean, seriously, when you look at this, I can’t even like path out what it could be for the winner.
PROTO It’s hard.
DANNY It’s really hard. There’s a lot I want to watch, too.
SLIM So that’s the big news to start off the show. And we mentioned the patrons get access to vote for those and we’ll release that as a full episode for the month. We just put out The Matrix episode for our supporters. What an episode that was, huh?
DANNY What an ep.
SLIM What a moment.
PROTO A special one.
SLIM It’s a long one. Almost an hour long, exclusive ep in the 70mm vault. And then as of recording, we just pushed out Jaws 2.
DANNY Do you believe?
SLIM If you remember last year, we did the Jaws episode with our producer at large, Dale. So we were vacationing this past week so we thought why not go back to the beach and record Jaws 2 together. Continue the tradition. Proto, if you have one thing to say about Jaws 2 right now what would it be?
PROTO Those darn kids and their sailboats. [Danny laughs] I’ll never get over it. The idea of a child having a boat.
SLIM You can get access to the Patreon using 70mmpod.com. The link on there. We have some new friends to call out. Meg, my own sister joined our Patreon. I don’t think we’ve even talked about that.
DANNY Excuse me?
DANNY She did?
SLIM She is a listener of the show and she joined last week. Meg, thank you. Love you.
DANNY Thank you, Meg. Come on the show, Meg.
SLIM Josh, Sarah and Hannah also joined this week.
SLIM Danny, you watch any movies this week?
DANNY I did watch some movies. Well I watched two that we can chat about real quick because they tie into our episode, I watched The Book of Secrets Blair Witch 2.
SLIM My god.
DANNY And then I watched the 2016 Blair Witch movie. And they both are absolute garbage. So I don’t want to talk about them because I don’t care, they’re trash, so don’t watch them. But one other movie I threw on this week, which was a kind of a short, it’s 30 minutes. The Human Voice. Pedro Almodovar.
DANNY Tilda Swinton did ike a 30 minute, I think if I remember correctly, she’s the only person in this. I don’t think they show anybody else. It’s like a one woman show, 30 minutes. And it’s amazing. I mean, Tilda Swinton is one of my favorites. We know this. And she does kind of a — it’s not really like a monologue, but she’s a woman going through like a breakup and her significant other isn’t returning and she just kind of slowly losing it. And that’s really good. And I really enjoyed it and I would recommend anybody to take 30 minutes to watch it. It’s on HBO Max.
SLIM I watched a Pedro Almodovar movie recently and it was effed up.
DANNY Wait, which one did you watch?
SLIM In My Own Skin or Under my Skin.
PROTO The Skin I Live In?
SLIM The Skin I Live In. Good lord. I don’t even throw that phrase around willy nilly. And it’s effed up.
PROTO Wow. Wow. [Slim & Danny laugh]
SLIM Proto, have you ever seen an Almodovar?
PROTO No, no. I know we had that movie — one of his more recent movies Pain and Glory, that got a lot of praise. I think that came out last year or two years ago, who knows? But yeah, no, maybe I don’t want to you know, maybe this is just somebody I stay away from. After hearing effed up.
DANNY Check out Tilda. 30 minutes.
PROTO Don’t tell me what to do. [Slim & Danny laugh]
SLIM Any other movies Danny that weren’t trash? Like the Blair Witch Cinematic Universe?
DANNY No, that’s it.
SLIM I can’t believe you watched those today. Can’t believe it.
DANNY Why not?
SLIM The filth in those Blair Witch films.
DANNY Okay, so the second one is trash. But the most recent one —
SLIM The reboot?
DANNY It’s not a reboot. I mean sorta. Did you watch it?
DANNY Okay, so it’s the brother of Heather and he’s reinvestigating after, you know, the missings.
SLIM Is it found footage?
DANNY Yes, it is. That’s the problem. It’s like the almost a shot for shot kind of remake of The Blair Witch but telling like a secondary story. It’s not great, but I will say the last maybe 15 minutes were quite scary. It has a great — it has a really good ending for a very bad movie. I will say that. So it’s terrible. But I got scared for a few moments. I had to put my headphones offers because the noises in that finale were really getting to me. [Danny laughs]
SLIM Got too real.
DANNY Well I was alone in my house. Everyone had left. I’m like, man, I feel like someone’s behind me. I don’t know what was going on.
SLIM My god.
PROTO That’s when they’ll get ya.
SLIM Our main feature this episode is The Blair Witch Project. Last week, when you announced this pick, Proto started sweating on the call, immediately. Sweats kicked in. So we’ll get into that movie later in this episode. Proto, you watch any movies this week?
PROTO I did. Oh, I did get to watch — while we were vacationing, we watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
DANNY We did! Over like three days.
PROTO It took us the whole time but we got it done. [Danny laughs] And I had seen this movie before. I’m finally putting the pieces together that I think I’ve seen this one twice. And I don’t think I’ve seen Rogue Nation or Fallout ever. So I think that’s where I stand.
PROTO But, you know, this movie felt very much like a Brad Bird movie. I was getting Incredibles vibes as I was watching it, and really I don’t know if there’s — I feel like Brad Bird is probably the perfect director for a Mission Impossible. He just feels like such a good fit, the way he directs a movie. So I liked that choice. But I feel like, I don’t know, there was too much action. Sometimes action movies are just too much going on — nonstop action, my eyes start to glaze over. But that’s just me. But it was a sweet, sweet memory to watch it with you guys.
SLIM Yeah there was like five times where the agents screwed up and they had to like restart the mission. I think I didn’t notice it really until this viewing or I was like God, dang, how long is this movie? They screw up and then they have to like restart a whole new movie of missions.
PROTO They fail every single mission until the last possible one.
SLIM I think I said I was a four stars but it’s probably my lowest one of the modern one starting with three. I love this one the least. I think.
DANNY I can definitely see that for sure.
SLIM His hair was great though.
DANNY Nothing wrong with his hair.
PROTO Oh yeah, he’s got great hair.
SLIM I think I said this, can you imagine if he grows the hair out again? But, you know, as he is today. Like older Tom.
DANNY Stop it. Stop it.
PROTO I mean you guys remember what I said? I said he should enter a Burt Reynolds phase where he just has a killer mustache after seeing that mustache he was wearing in the Kremlin.
DANNY That Kremlin mustache. You kidding me?
PROTO He could rock it.
SLIM Anything else Proto?
PROTO Yeah, so I continued our Choose Your Own Noirney this week. So for month of September, the two movies are Asphalt Jungle and The American Friend. So I watched The American Friend which is a Wim Wenders picture. I guess he’s a German director. It’s like half German, the movie. A lot of German, a lot of English. I think there’s some French. Very strange movie. I kind of don’t know what to think of it. It’s about a guy who gets recruited to be a hitman, kind of almost like against his will. So you kind of get to see somebody like first day on the job. Pretty bizarre. It co-stars Dennis Hopper. And probably the biggest role that I’ve seen him in, in a movie. And man, he just continues to be a weird actor. Rest in peace. But it’s a fascinating movie. Yeah, I really, I didn’t give it any stars. I really don’t know how to feel about it. I was confused a lot of it. I’m not sure I understand it completely. But it’s really, a really fascinating movie. And it was something I had never heard of before it was put on this Neo noir list on Criterion. And I think it’s worth checking out. I really do.
SLIM There was a movie, we were — I think it was the Discord today where we’re talking about Wim Wenders, the director. He did another movie and it’s like four and a half hours long. It’s got William Hurt in it. And it was an early 90s movie, takes place in quote ‘1999'. But the Wiki said the original cut of the movie is allegedly 20 hours long. [Danny laughs]
SLIM That wasn’t a made up comment that I put in chat today. That was real.
PROTO Yeah, it’s called Until the End of the World. I thought it actually originally aired on TV. I thought I read that at one point.
SLIM I didn’t see that.
PROTO I thought I saw that.
SLIM Can someone confirm?
PROTO We’ll have to check the internet.
SLIM We should, real quick before we get to movie I watched, we should call out the winner of this week’s Letterboxd Pro membership for the year. If you share the show on social media, you know, spread the word of 70mm. Spread the word of the 70mm vault. You get entered to win a free year Letterboxd Pro. And this week’s winner is Walter Crenshaw on Twitter.
DANNY My goodness. Congrats Walter.
SLIM Walter, congratulations.
SLIM No ads for you, my friend. And you get that sweet, sweet banner on the back of your page. And if you wanted to support Letterboxd and upgrade yourself to Pro of Patron status, get your name in the lights. You can do so at any time using the special link on 70mmpod.com. We could talk about the new Candyman. That’s in — full disclosure that’s in the bracket. That could win for the final week.
DANNY It won’t. Talk about it.
SLIM I don’t think it’s gonna win. So I’m safe to talk about this. So Amanda and I had a nice little date night in my apartment, aka my basement.
SLIM We got some furniture down here, we got some hand-me-down couches. So we came down here with our doggos, sat down, watched some Candyman. The director, Nia DaCosta, first film I’ve ever seen her direct. I looove the way this movie looks. She’s got some style. She’s got another movie that she did with an actress that I love, by the name of Tessa Thompson. You ever heard of her?
DANNY I have.
SLIM She’s in a movie called Little Woods which is on Hulu right now. So for the first three quarters of Candyman, this is a four banger. I was like hell yeah, this is really good. Towards the end, it got a little crazy. Got a little messy. Didn’t love it. But it’s not a spoiler to say that this ties in in a pretty cool way with the first movie, which I wasn’t expecting.
DANNY Oh nice.
SLIM I thought it was just gonna be like totally separate and its own thing. But there were some really fun and swell nods to the first film. But that’s all I’ll say about that. So I gave it three stars.
PROTO Yeah, it’s sitting at 3.3 on LB. I feel like the reviews that came into the Village — I felt like it was getting poo-pooed on. A lot of low scores.
SLIM That’s what I felt too.
DANNY There’s a lot of that going on right now.
SLIM A lot of poo-pooing?
DANNY A lot of poo-pooing in this Discord.
SLIM Pop gave it two stars. Let’s see who else. Boom gave it two and a half stars.
PROTO Name them.
SLIM I’m gonna name them. Ben, two and a half stars.
DANNY Oh my gosh.
SLIM You might remember Boom from the Cinenauts podcast. Hope it comes back one day. Ray gave it two stars. Dylan two stars. Your boy Ben two and a half stars. You talk about poo-pooing.
DANNY Get their home addresses up too while we’re at it.
SLIM Before we get into Blair Witch.
DANNY Uh oh.
SLIM I teased something early before we were recording, before I forgot to hit record. I told Danny that for my pick, I was gonna do something I’ve never done before. And I had a pick picked out that was going to be like a left field pick. Okay. So I am like technically going to do two picks for next week. [Danny laughs]
DANNY Wait. Wait.
SLIM So this is this is like my pre-pick. This isn’t the official one. So next week at the show, I’m going to tell you what my pick is. And that’s gonna be the one. But I have a movie that I would love for the village to watch. And one of the main reasons I didn’t pick it is because I googled, it’s hard to find. And I saw a link to Shudder, so I was like hell yeah. I didn’t know this movie was on Shudder. Turns out, it’s just like an old link that it was on Shudder at one point. And when I hit play earlier today, it failed. So it’s not on Shudder. This is a quote “movie” called Ghostwatch. And this is a television like reality mockumentary, documentary television show that aired in Great Britain in 1992 on Halloween. And it had a legit newscaster host it. This news crew goes into a haunted house and does a live investigation. And it’s played off as a legit show, like a legit news broadcast. So people seeing it on TV were like, what? What’s happening? And it’s not like a strict horror show, horror movie. It’s just kind of like a really fun documentary thing to see that isn’t really made anymore. So it’s not available anywhere but archive.org.
DANNY Excuse me?
SLIM So if you want to stream it, you can watch it, it’s up there right now. So really fun. Hope people want to check it out. I’ll be watching it this week.
DANNY I’ve seen it.
SLIM You’ve seen this?!
DANNY You showed it to me. Like a year ago.
PROTO I think last year.
SLIM Yeah, it was a while ago. Proto, did you watch it?
PROTO No, no, no. [Slim & Danny laugh]
DANNY I found the copy floating around the internet. I gave it a watch.
SLIM Is it time to do it, Proto?
PROTO There’s nothing else to do.
SLIM You were nervous last last week, and we watched Blair Witch in advance of this discussion for Halloween. The big one. Quote unquote, “the most successful independent film of all time.”
PROTO Is that real?
DANNY Guinness world record holder.
PROTO In the Black Hills of Burkittsville, Maryland, there is a local legend of The Blair Witch. In 1994, three young filmmakers hike into the woods in hopes of capturing the history of this legend on film. Heather, Josh and Mike first visit the town and gather whatever tidbits they can from the locals. Then, they enter the unmarked woods in hopes of finding sites that are a part of the legend. When they have enough footage, they attempt to leave. But they soon find out that what they have captured is not only very real, but very close. As their composure and sense of direction dwindles, the three find themselves lost in over their heads and the target of something unspeakable that haunts these woods.
DANNY Gosh, I got the chills.
SLIM Did this movie even have credits in theaters? I feel like it didn’t. Right?
DANNY I didn’t see it in theaters. I don’t know.
SLIM I was trying to remember when I saw it in theaters, because when I got done watching it, the credits rolled and I was like, well this probably didn’t happen in theatres.
DANNY Did you get to see it on release?
SLIM Yeah, I saw it in theaters when it came out. Probably with my sisters.
DANNY So jealous.
SLIM My sister Meg.
DANNY Meg, call us.
SLIM Meg, please. [Slim laughs] Danny, what’s your backstory with The Blair Witch Project?
DANNY I mean, I remember the talk around it at the time, but in ’99 there was no way I was being allowed to watch this film.
SLIM You and Casey have been dating for 15 years by then? [Danny laughs]
DANNY Something like that. So there was no way our parents were allowing me to watch it and I didn’t get to see it until it came out on video. And I watched it at a friend’s house late one night when I spent the night there. So I remember it being insane and crazy and people were talking about it but I didn’t get a chance to eat in theaters, which I really wish I could have.
SLIM Proto, were you actively avoiding this and every other horror movie growing up in 1999?
PROTO Yeah, I wasn’t watching any horror I didn’t grow up watching any harm my dad had no interest. My older brother and older sister not really interested in horror movies. I do remember when this came out though, I can remember the commercial of just, you know, seeing Heather. [Proto panting] “I’m so scared! I’m so scared!” You know, being like wow, this looks pretty scary. And then of course just hearing about it afterwards, but yeah, I never saw it. And never really wanted to because, yeah, I don’t I’m not really a horror guy. So these this was definitely not something that I was seeking out afterwards.
SLIM Guavajuice in chat says “Someone in the back of the theater yelled as the lights came on what the actual f. There was a definite mood in the theater.” Yeah, I feel like I had the same experience, people just like asking WTF in theaters when it ended. So what was your — do you remember what like your first early horror movie experience was Proto, if you never really watched any?
PROTO Yeah, well, I remember seeing The Others. I think I might have saw The Others in theater and that movies scared me to death. That has Nicole Kidman where she’s like a governess of a house that’s haunted. I don’t know if it’s scary now, but at the time I was terrified. And then probably the — I mean The Ring scarred me when I saw that. I don’t think I saw that in theater but I saw that at home and that movie hit different.
SLIM I remember seeing the ads — and we talked about it last week — but the kind of marketing push behind this movie which felt different and new at the time. You know, is this legit? Or what is this? I don’t remember like other stuff like this. And I was trying to think back of other found footage. This kind of I guess officially kicked it off. But I did watch a found footage movie on Shudder last year. That was about like an alien invasion, that has been said to be like the first found footage movie. It wasn’t very good.
PROTO I think the first found footage movie I saw was Cloverfield.
DANNY Yeah. I was thinking Cloverfield too.
PROTO But comparing the two, Cloverfield feels so forced when comparing it to this. Yeah, there’s scenes in Cloverfield, where, you know, near the end, where it’s like, you’re dropping the camera and running away, like it just doesn’t make sense for you still to be recording. Whereas in this movie, I buy that they continue to record up until when they have, especially because it’s also working as their lights. It just makes a lot more sense. And it’s very believable to me.
DANNY Well, that’s, I mean, a lot of that goes for Blair Witch, because it’s all improvised. There’s no script for this film. And they filmed for eight days straight in the woods. So what the directors would do, they gave them an outline of the film. And they would leave canisters, 35mm film canisters at spots in the woods and they would get their kind of direction for the day on what they’re going to do. But the actors didn’t know what each other actor was given as a form of direction. So I would say like “Heather, you’re going to adamantly just be firm that you know where you’re going. You know the map, you know the terrain, you know where you’re going and fight it tooth and nail.” And then one of the other actors would have something like “freak out on her and run away” or something. And she would have to respond as they’re filming each other on the spot. Which I feel like which lends itself to so much raw emotion in this film. I mean there’s — I was watching an interview with them and they were saying that because they would get actually get hungry there in the woods, they’re doing this for eight days straight, they would start to get mad at each other and they even had to have a safe word with three of each other so they would realize they’re actually pissed off and they’re not acting anymore. So there’s just a lot to be said about how this was made and how well it holds up now.
SLIM Did they say what the safe word was?
DANNY Taco. [Slim laughs] I’m being serious.
PROTO I was definitely surprised at the the acting. Yeah, I thought it was great. It feels so real and authentic. It doesn’t feel like they’re acting at all. And yeah, I don’t know if these were just their friends or were these professional actors but it makes a lot of sense when you put it that way, that you know they’re not reading lines from a script they’re just kind of just you know, figuring it out. And yeah, there’s scenes where they’re arguing especially with about the directions and, you know, the map and does she really know where she’s going yeah, just even like their gestures the way they would look away and like look out into the woods it just felt very real. I was really impressed with all of that.
[clip of The Blair Witch Project plays]
DANNY And like the night shots for them really going to sleep for the night and so they’re being woken up by stuff being thrown around. Children’s crying. Like all this stuff is actually waking them up out of them sleeping a day off of doing this in the woods all day. So they were going to bed for the night and then still being woken up and having to be on which it just feels like brilliant for this kind of movie.
SLIM The children noises outside of the tent.
DANNY Stop it. [Danny laughs]
SLIM I’d be ready to pee myself. If I was an actor, I would still be like ready to just poop. I would just be like, I’m about to poop myself right now, this is happening and I’m gonna pee. And this is horrifying. You explaining how like they got notes and they wouldn’t know what the other person was doing. You know what it reminds me of? Is Andre for My Dinner With Andre. How he talks about how he did those like acting things in the jungle or whatever, wherever he was.
PROTO Oh, yeah.
SLIM One of my first notes for Blair Witch Project is just — I think I’ve talked about this before on the National Lampoon’s episode — but the idea of going into the woods with a map in 2021. I’m an adult. I would be dead in three days. [Danny laughs] There’s no way I’m coming out of there. I don’t understand how civilization did it.
DANNY Also the map that she had was like a terrain kind of elevation map, which, and then they were like, we’re below this line. There’s no map for where we’re at. I’m just like, oh god! Like what are you doing?
PROTO You know, anytime I’m in the woods, if I’m going for a hike, you know, you’re on a trail. And then I’ve been in certain places where it’s like, oh, if you want to get to this peak, you have to bushwhack for half a mile or whatever.
PROTO But as soon as you go off a trail, I mean with trees, you can’t see like 20 feet in front of you. Everything looks the same. It’s really scary. And then the idea of walking for miles trying to find something, you know, without a smartphone with the AllTrails app. It’s nuts. [Danny laughs]
SLIM When you go on your Adirondack trips, do you bring a compass as like a last ditch scenario thing?
PROTO No, not really, like where we’re going, there’s so many trails. There’s so many people. You would really have to try to get lost. And there’s an app called AllTrails where it’s like GPS and you can download the the whole it gives you like elevation you know everything about where you are that if you have that it’s almost impossible to get lost.
DANNY I was gonna say the beginning of this film, we’ve watched so many paranormal hunting shows, especially the more recent Destination Field where they’re just this is like what they’re doing, they’re filming each other in these locations. And I just was like, dammit, this is my jam. I’m like, I just was so into the beginning of this film them, you know, planning this trip and then interviewing the townspeople. I don’t know, I was instantly like, ready for this. I was just happy to watch us again. I mean, it’s been since I first saw it, I never watched it again since the first time. So it’s been years since I’ve seen this. And it just came like whooshing back, just these creepy feelings of knowing how this ends and then knowing, I don’t know, the path taken for this film is just wild how much I love it. It’s crazy.
SLIM It’s a lot of fun too to see, you know, just like independent filmmaking done on like, you know, I would presume a shoestring budget. And it just worked so well. So I was actually just curious, like, I wonder what these directors ended up doing. I think at least one of them did like a story in the VHS Movies. Is that what it’s called? The horror anthology stuff. But man, they did strike gold. I mean, how much money must have made from this movie?
DANNY It was like $250 million off of a $60,000 budget and that’s what I won the Guinness for, was the top box office ratio from budgets or profit or whatever. So yeah, I mean, once it hits Sundance, and the talk of the town there, it was just skyrocketed astronomically.
SLIM Well, you watched I think you watched the documentary thing before.
DANNY Yeah, yeah.
SLIM Was this on MTV? This was kind of like to get people into the movie.
DANNY Yeah they put that out as like the mockumentary because when they were all said and done with the eight days of filming, they had 19 hours of footage to be cut down. And it was cut down to two and a half hours. And then the studio chopped it again to the 90 or 80 something minutes that we get now, which is perfect. So with the extra footage that they had, they made that mockumentary, is what they showed so kind of spur interest into the film that’s coming out.
SLIM And it still holds up? You rated that pretty highly on Letterboxd right?
DANNY I gave it a big heart. Maybe I gave it five stars too. It’s just, it’s just so smart. It’s genius marketing for this film. That’s exactly what you would need to make this a hit.
SLIM Can you imagine this being two and a half hours?
DANNY No. I think it’s too long. It’s too much.
SLIM Too hours of them just yelling at each other.
DANNY Heather just screaming. Oh my god. She has a scream too. What a good horror film scream. When she exits that tent, chasing whoever’s in front of her. It’s just the blood curdling scream she has. And what’s crazy about that scene too is, because this is all improv, when she’s screaming, “What’s that? What’s that?” She’s seeing a figure that they were supposed to film but the guy running forgot to turn the camera over there. So they’re actually supposed to show the witch real quick. And so she’s actually seeing it for the first time running through the woods in the dark, freaking out. I mean, it’s perfect.
[clip of The Blair Witch plays]
PROTO Yeah, I had no idea how this movie was gonna play out. And I was surprised at how much, how it takes its time. I mean, it’s only 80 minutes long. But it really does have a slow build. You know, it’s like 20 minutes before they’re even into the woods. Yeah, you know, they’re there. They’re collecting their supplies, they’re interviewing in the town, they’re getting the shot, you know, that opening shot that she wants to get. And I think it makes sense because I think 60 minutes in the woods is probably, you know, they really got all they could out of it. I think if this was even 10 minutes longer, it would have been 10 minutes too long. Because it’s just you’re starting to get like it’s starting to like just repeat itself towards the end where it’s just like, okay, another day where they’re lost. They don’t know what to do. And they’ve reached the end of the rope when when there’s like 10 minutes left and they find the house so I think it’s just it’s really perfect in terms of like length and the slow build towards the ending.
SLIM One of my other notes was hearing Josh yell at night and when he like went missing and they could hear him in the distance.
DANNY Oh my god. Fuck me.
PROTO Is that not a skin walker movie?
DANNY Might as well be. God.
*SLIM That is frightening. Like those parts were really scary in my opinion. I mean the kids banging on the tent. Would you leave the tent? I mean, I was yelling at the TV. I was like, what are you doing to getting out of that tent? Running into the pitch black darkness!
DANNY I would do nothing until the daylight. There’s no way. Fetal position until morning, that’s exactly how I would be.
SLIM I love the scenes with the locals to start off the movie. You know, like that mom and then the older guy doing the interviews it walks the line of like this seems legit, you know, it still feels real. And I also liked how they weren’t like I’m trying to think of like the actual plot of in wrestling terms of kayfabe like how this would have been released. If it was found footage, like nobody would have found a tape that was 80 minutes long right? They talked about having footage, enough footage for things, you know what I mean? Like in the storyline, did somebody edit this together and then release it? Was that ever explained in like the documentary?
PROTO I think it says that at the beginning.
DANNY It’s explained in the documentary too, the mockumentary, they put their footage together after finding the tapes that Heather left.
PROTO I love the character of Heather and the relationship she has with Josh and Mike. Especially for a horror movie. I think she’s so strong, so independent, so the leader have these three. You know, when when they’re both against her, like you don’t know where you’re going you know where last she’s like no, I have it together. I know where we’re going. And she gets them to the cemetery you know with the with the seven graves and it’s like all right, she actually, you know, she figured this all out. But then seeing the reverse happen. I just can’t imagine. Seeing this in theater, believing this is real must have just been like so amazing. Because like having Heather be such a strong powerful character and then seeing her completely melt at the end of this movie is like genius, because she’s this girl who has everything together and by the end she’s whimpering and crying as she’s like descending down to her death and it’s just so good. I just can’t imagine you know a teenager sitting in a dark theater watching this just pooping my pants. I would have died seeing this. I just can’t even imagine.
DANNY They even had on IMDb at the time, they had the three actors marked as “deceased” when this was coming out. [Proto laughs]
PROTO Oh my god!
SLIM Like the the mother of Heather got so many condolence calls and letters about her daughter dying. They also use their actual real life names. Heather is her real name and I watched an interview where she said that she regretted ever using her real name for this film because of what it did everything about her life. So it’s just absolutely wild to me. And one of, the scene — whenever throughout the years when anyone brings up Blair Witch, I instantly think of the bloody teeth in the flannel. Like, I don’t know why that image has just burned its way into my mental capacity of this film. Like it’s all I think about when I think of The Blair Witch and maybe it’s also Heather’s reaction to it because it’s so startling and crazy and freaky and, and those are real teeth. Like the director went to his dentist and got real teeth. Like this movie’s insane to me! It’s just crazy!
PROTO I couldn’t tell that those were teeth. That was clear to you guys? I couldn’t make out what was even.
SLIM It definitely looked like teeth to me. The scene where she’s talking to the camera and her, you know, the cameras on the ground looking up.
SLIM I guess I forgot about this line where she’s like, “I’m scared to close my eyes.” [clip of The Blair Witch Project plays] What a horrifying thought. You’re just effed either way. Caleb says I thought it was his eyes in there.
DANNY It’s teeth.
PROTO I thought that too for a minute.
*DANNY Could be tongue but it’s definitely teeth. The iconic scene of her talking to the camera. It was all improvised, I’ve said before, she wasn’t even asked to do. She at one point in the night, she took the camera aside and just started recording this monologue and she even accidentally zooms in our face she meant to get her whole face in the shot which it just feels crazy to me because I feel like this is one of the most iconic horror shots.
DANNY I mean, this is this picture of her it’s just wild to me and then it was all an accident and it was improvised. And she’s crying and snoting and it’s just like this is like movie magic.
SLIM The tent stuff is so good. I mean let’s go on a ghost hunt, right now, in the woods.
DANNY Let’s talk about you going camping this weekend after doing the Blair Witch.
SLIM I said what are the chances of us doing Blair Witch and then me leaving the next day for two nights camping. I can’t wait to show this movie to like James when he gets a little bit older.
DANNY Mmm, tell him it’s real.
SLIM You get like kind of bored. Wonder if you’d even get it you know? Would he obviously think that it’s fake and a movie or would he be like is this real? What is this? Because we did start to see some reviews come in through our Discord, we have a channel where the like Letterboxd reviews pipe in and some people were like explicitly calling out that like I never saw this when I was younger. I kind of don’t get it, but I would have if I saw it you know when I was younger. So I don’t know, like I’m getting kind of positive vibes from Proto. So Proto is kind of in that same boat. So we’ll see where it ends up.
DANNY Can we talk about the finale in that house?
SLIM Let’s get into it.
DANNY I mean, what were your vibes coming into that? Your stress levels?
SLIM I just remember the scene of the wall. The guy standing in front of the wall is another iconic moment that you as memes. And so this time around — I mean it’s been 20 years maybe since I’ve seen this movie. Still holds up. You know, I’m getting kind of like nervous then run through that house because it looks legit as hell. Proto?
PROTO I didn’t know if you were going to see the witch. I was pretty much expecting there to be some kind of shot, some kind of jump at some point. Of course I’ve seen that shot of him facing the wall. But I didn’t know what else happens with the witch. Like if she appears, you know, if she’s seen at any point. I had no idea. So I was like, when they get into the house I’m like alright, is this going to be the moment? I was really waiting I think it helped us movies that I was waiting for like some kind of big jumpscare and there really isn’t any jumps in this whole movie. It’s really just dread that you feel watching this. And I think if someone would have told me that at the beginning like there isn’t there isn’t any jumpscares in this. I would have been much more relaxed. But there’s like there’s this tension especially of the camera waving back and forth peering into the into the night like oh my god you’re just like waiting for I think there’s one shot that actually did kind of scare me was I think it was early on at night where they have the camera out and you see Heather on the left side of the camera and then it pans back looking and then all of a sudden she’s on the right side and like waving her hand and I was like oh my god like how did she get I thought it was somebody else. So that was kind of freaky. But yeah I don’t know like yeah the end I mean I guess the whole ending there’s so much that’s not revealed in any of this of all right this this mirrors the story of the guy who killed those kids so there’s that but then there’s also the story of the witch and there’s like supernatural stuff seemingly happening, so what is happening you know, it’s very muddy the end so I don’t know if I was like completely satisfied with how it all turns out, especially if it leaves you it’s like there’s really nothing there’s you know, there’s nothing explained nothing makes any sense. I don’t know, did they explain any of more? Do they talk about any of that in the in the mockumentary?
DANNY No, the mockumentary is just kind of still trying to like piece together if it’s a myth or if it’s actually someone playing a trick on them. Like the guy that killed the seven children. Like is there actually a serial killer out there and not supernatural. And I feel the same way you do when the ending hits. Because at this point, my I am like max anxiety in this film. And that’s just being in the woods, to walk into this creepy house with the handprints on the walls and just, you know, only seeing, you have no peripheral, you can only see what the camera and flashlight showing. And it’s terrifying. I know that not seeing the which is great but also I don’t know if it helped my enjoyment of the ending. Like when the camera drops and it’s on the dirt floor it’s like, man, I don’t want it to be — I think it’s what it is, I didn’t want to be over. Like I didn’t want that to be the final shot and having watched so much paranormal shows, so many don’t end with a satisfying ending. So I’m just kind of used to that now and to the left to be so wide open. So a part of me was like awesome, yes, I love this. And then I’m like, I wish I just saw which come in and decapitate them or something. I don’t know, like something insane to happen in the end.
SLIM I think I’m still satisfied with the ending because so many movies today take it that extra step further and give you, you know, the money shot of the horror movie. You know, they like show you what exactly what you. But this one still keeps it kind of legit, could be real, whatever. So I’m still super into the ending. And like teeters the line of like just weird and supernatural enough to like maybe happen to you. You know, like you’re in the woods in this scenario and you’re following somebody and they start acting weird and then you just realize your effed, pretty much at that point. This is it for me I guess, goodbye!
PROTO It definitely works for the the aspect of it possibly being real, because then if you do have a witch or something in there, I think even though someone could be watching this buying into everything, but then if they see something that’s truly supernatural or like a witch in a black robe they’d be like, wait a second, maybe that doesn’t look real. That could have maybe broken the facade. So, I think it makes sense at the time that they shot it this way.
SLIM Danny, anything on our list that we didn’t cover for The Blair Witch Project?
DANNY I think that’s it. I think that’s it. I’ll give my final thoughts. I think I have a definite love for this film. I wish I could have gotten experience this day one in a theater with the idea that this is real. I love that it’s guys from my hometown, created this with a shoestring budget. It’s exactly what I wanted. It’s exactly what I remembered enjoying. For me, it still holds up. It’s a four star movie for me.
SLIM It’s only a 3.3 on Letterboxd. And the average — I forgot to mention, I asked on IG if this movie scared the pants off you when he saw it. 69% said yes.
DANNY Excuse me?
SLIM FYI. So 82 people I follow on Letterboxd have watched this. The ratings are all over the place for this. I see some one stars, I see a half star, two, three. So this is a very divisive rating scale for a movie. I think for me, this still fits in with like Signs as like a movie that I had a great experience with as a kid and that just, that memory has stayed with me over time. Plus the fact that it just exists and worked so well when it came out, I might be five stars for Blair Witch Project.
DANNY Yes! Yes! Love it.
SLIM This just hits all the right buttons for me. Supernatural, could be real, getting scared. Yeah, it’s just so much fun.
DANNY Do I go up a star with you? My god! Loving the love. Let’s go!
SLIM I mean, plus like me growing up, like I was super hardcore into, like, you know, the idea of like, making movies, doing it yourself. This is, you know, like a student project almost. You could go make this movie yourself today with an iPhone. You know, like, go do that. So that really resonates with me too.
PROTO My last note, and probably my favorite scene in the movie that stayed with me, is there’s a scene where Josh takes Heather’s camera and he’s pointing it at her. And he says, “I think I know why you like using the camera so much.” He says something along the lines of, “It makes reality feel like pretend, as you look through the lens of what you’re seeing isn’t real.” And I thought that’s such a great meta line, especially for a movie like this, because it’s kind of a statement about the audience watching as well. You know, we all go into a theater with the agreement that what we’re watching isn’t real, and that we can feel okay about it. But then here is this movie where everybody in the theater is watching this, believing that it’s real! And it’s like the opposite of the normal experience and he kind of calls that out in the movie. So I thought that was such a great statement about what our expectations are and how this movie completely flipped it on people at the time of release.
PROTO So I think I can appreciate this movie for how it stands. And I think you could call this like a classic right? It kind of a defined genre of horror. I think for me, the viewing experience, it was a good movie. It’s a three star movie for me. I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I’d like want to watch it again. Unless somebody really wanted to. I’d watch it again with somebody but it’s not like, I wasn’t really blown away by the experience but I could appreciate everything that it did.
SLIM Yeah, I’m fine rewatching this every 10 years, 15 years. Seeing how it ages. You know, like fine wine for sure. Art in chat “the weekly bracing for Proto’s rating going any which way.” It’s very real. Topsy, turvy. So that’s the Blair Witch. Glad that we finally rewatched that to start off our October this year. What a month. God what a month.
DANNY Big month ahead of us.
SLIM You can shoot us a letter or voice memo voicemail at 70mmpod.com. There’s links on there. So let’s get to our VM this week. We got one from a dear friend of ours, Andy. Let’s listen to right now.
SLIM What a friggin month. It’s time for my pick.
PROTO Oh yeah.
SLIM For next week. Let me see if I pulled it up. Last time I watched this movie it was 2015.
DANNY Oh no.
*SLIM January 20th. And I quote, from my review.
DANNY Oh gosh.
SLIM “Easily the best horror film I’ve ever seen.”
SLIM 2015. It’s time to take it up notch!
DANNY Oh no.
SLIM 2014’s The Babadook. [Danny laughs]
PROTO Oh no! [Danny laughs]
DANNY Can’t believe you’re doing this to Proto!
SLIM Proto, we’re gonna grow together. We’re gonna get through this together. If you need me to drive an hour to watch this movie with you hand in hand, I’ll do it.
DANNY This movie is something else.
SLIM This is not streaming right now but it’s available for rental. 2.99, you know, throw 2.99 to the wonderful the Babadook, directed by Jennifer Kant written by Jennifer Kant, if I do believe my memory. When I saw this movie, it blew me away. Blew me away. I mean I don’t just throw around “best horror movie I’ve ever seen.” I was about — Matthew I had that review open in the next tab. Matthew’s review of two stars
DANNY We’ll produce our show, Matthew, please. [Slim laughs]
SLIM Let me handle it from here on out, Matthew. [Danny laughs] So yes, hyperbole. This is a 3.5 on Letterboxd right now. Let me see what our village thinks.
DANNY Did I write a review or did I star it?
SLIM Not sure. I don’t see you. But I’m excited. Proto, what do you think? The Babadook for next week.
PROTO Well, I mean, things I’ve heard about this movie is that it’s legit scary. So I might be watching this on my phone at arm’s length in daylight. [Slim & Proto laugh]
DANNY Here’s my review. Four and a half stars. “Unsettling. I’m unsettled. I don’t want to watch this again.” [Danny laughs] That was my review for this. Oh no.
SLIM Very excited. Also next week, we’re recording the first Harry Potter movie.
DANNY Oh my!
SLIM That’s next week. So right before the Babadook, we’re doing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. What a two punch.
DANNY What a night.
SLIM Golly gee. Is there anything else I wanted to say before we sign off?
DANNY We’re pivoting too. It’s a Tuesday recording.
SLIM Oh, that’s right. Good call. Next Tuesday. Someone’s gotta jet set out of the state.
DANNY I’ll be at New York Comic Con. Come say hi if you’re in New York.
SLIM Come say hi to Danny within six feet. No handshakes. No pounds necessarily. I don’t know if that’s gonna happen.
DANNY Excuse me? [Danny laughs]
SLIM Maybe like a foot tap? You know? Maybe like, I don’t know if that’s the thing you do at cons. You gonna have any 70mm stickers or anything at the table?
DANNY I will bring 70mm stickers. Come say hi.
SLIM You know, we didn’t say it on the show. I’m not even sure if we said it on the post-show. Danny said a few people came up to him at a recent show he did to bust his chops about things he said on his podcast.
DANNY Yeah, MegaCon Orlando, had some people busting my chops for some of my comments about movies. Very special moment. Didn’t even know these people. [Danny laughs]
SLIM Thank you for listening. Proto, closing thoughts before we leave for the week and energize ourselves for The Babadook?
PROTO I just got to call out our Village Discord once again. You know, this week we had one of our villagers share some sad news with us, some personal news. And they came to the Village for support, you know, as just a place where they could reach out. And that’s just something, you know, I don’t think any of us ever imagined. You know, this being a place for that, but here we are. And it’s really beautiful this community that we have and it’s only possible because of everyone that’s here so shout out to the Village and everybody who makes it a great place. I love you guys.
SLIM Love you. See you next week.
[70mm theme music ramps up, plays alone, fades out]
SLIM 70mm is a TAPEDECK production with original artwork provided by Danny Haas. Spiritual guidance and VGER, the robot who loves movies created by Protolexus. Producer emeritus Dale_a. Transcript provided by Sophie Shin. Prints and other merch are available on 70mmpod.com. This episode was mixed, edited and produced by me, Slim. Support our Patreon for access to the VHS Village Discord to talk movies with new friends, access to exclusive episodes, discounts on merch, and a physical membership card mailed to you. To check out other TAPEDECK podcasts, find the link in the episode notes. And if you’d like to support our friends at Letterboxd and upgrade to Pro or Patron status, you can do so with a 20% off discount using the links at 70mmpod.com. Goodbye!