Posts Tagged ‘horror stories’

The Legend . . .

In February 1785, Elly Kedward of Blair, Maryland was branded a witch and banished from the village after allegations of enticing children to her home in order to draw blood from them. By the following winter, nearly half of the village’s children had disappeared, along with all of those who had accused her of witchcraft. The villagers fled in fear to escape the ‘curse’ that they believed had been put on them.

In November 1809, a fictional book called The Blair Witch Cult was published. It tells the story of a woman who, having been tortured and banished on charge of witchcraft, placed a curse on the village of Blair. This tattered book has survived but most of the pages are illegible.

In 1824, a new town named Burkittsville (population 194) was established where the village of Blair had once stood in Frederick County, Maryland, about one hour’s drive from Washington DC.

Turbulent times followed for the townsfolk of Burkittsville, with a series of child murders and macabre occurrences taking place in and around the town. Perhaps the most horrific example was in 1941, when a man was convicted of the murder of seven children. He had disembowelled them in what appeared to be a ritual and claimed he had carried out the gruesome murders under the influence of the ghost of an old woman who dwelt near the woods of his house.

In 1994, three student filmmakers arrived in Burkittsville. They were collecting information for their class project on the Blair Witch legend and, having interviewed the townsfolk, they set off into the nearby woods to gather footage for their film, never to be seen again.

A huge operation to find the students ensued, but after ten days of combing the woodlands with the aid of tracking dogs, helicopters and even a department of defence satellite, the rescuers returned unsuccessful.

For a year their disappearance remained a mystery, until the film footage they had shot was discovered buried under an old log cabin in the woods.

The Investigation . . .

The Blair Witch Project was groundbreaking, as it was the first time that a UL was created with the sole purpose of marketing a film. This low-budget production used the power of ULs to maximum effect and, in doing so, achieved massive publicity before the film was even released.  The Blair Witch website supplies a formidable and extremely detailed history of the legend, giving a credible background to the film. The film itself is said to be the actual footage filmed by the students, shortly before they disappeared.  The footage was found a year after their disappearance in an abandoned log cabin, and was titled The Blair Witch Project. The whole set-up was very believable, and instantly gave the film a cult status before it was even released. Of course, we all know now that the whole legend is an elaborate piece of fiction, a clever piece of marketing that was the brainchild of the film’s writer/directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. Without a big budget to spend on advertising, they utilised the Internet to spin a unique piece of netlore; and it worked.

The film itself was produced in a unique way, and unknown actors were used to play the characters. The outline of the film and the characters’ roles were explained to the actors, and then they were dumped in the middle of the woods not knowing what was going to happen.  Notes and supplies were left in strategic positions for them,  and they were  monitored  by a Global Positioning System that helped keep track of where they were. The end result was unique film footage that has a home video documentary feel to it, where the emotions of true fear and horror can be seen quite clearly on the young actors’ faces. In truth, the film never actually lived up to the hype, although

it did prove to be a popular topic for discussion due to the fact that  public opinion was so vigorously divided. The infamous shaky camcorder footage has not proved to be everyone’s cup of tea, but was essential to get that student home video feel that the film relies on.

And Finally . . .

The Blair Witch Project reportedly took a total of $240.5 million at the box office, and $140.5 million of that was from the USA alone. To put these figures into perspective, you have to remember that the film was made with hardly any budget. It was one of the great successes of 1999, rated fourteenth in that year’s top grossing films. It even beat off big-budget blockbusters, with films such as Wild Wild West, American Pie, End of Days, Entrapment and Big Daddy all finishing in lower positions.

 Extract from the international selling kindle version of Urban Legends Uncovered – Reloaded – click below to buy