Saturday, September 17, 2016


To this day, 17 years later THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is my favorite marketing of a movie. This film had horror fans going nuts! Was the footage real or was it fiction? Yeah of course it was fake, but back in 1999 the debate raged on even after leaving the theater.

For me the hype/curiosity all started while hanging out with my best friend(also a fellow movie buff). We were at his house one day and he asked me if I had heard of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT? No, I said. What's the Blair Witch? Almost immediately we went to his computer and checked out the website. My friend read me the legend and showed me the video clips. And went on and on how the kids filming a documentary went missing. I found the whole thing creepy and convinced it was real.

Then a few weeks later a special aired on the Sci-Fi Channel and their was something about it that made the whole THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT found film seem very fake. But I still wanted to believe. Then days leading up to the theatrical release MTV News broke the story that the film was indeed fake. My friend and I were crushed. But deep down we knew all along the film wasn't real.

When THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT came out it was an instant blockbuster smash hit! It became (and still is I think) the most successful independent film of all time. All because of a clever marketing campaign. Was it fake or real? That was the conversations happening in theater lobbies across the nation. Very quickly however, came the backlash.

Some theater goers hated the found-footage style of the film, and could not see beyond a 87 minute movie of people lost and screaming in the woods.

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was definitely not a movie for everybody. In my opinion for the film to work, the viewer really has to be in the mind set that the woods are haunted and cursed. This suspension of disbelief is key, without it you're likely to find the movie boring and stupid.

After the success of the movie, Hollywood rushed a sequel into production. It bombed. I haven't seen BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2, but after hearing some people talk about it I may check it out. There were talks of a third Blair Witch movie but after the poor box office of the sequel, those plans were quickly scraped.

So the Blair Witch “franchise” died off, but the found-footage horror sub-genre lived on. I don't know how long Lionsgate has been wanting to relaunch the Blair Witch films? But I'm going to take an educated guess and say they wanted to bring the franchise back to life after the success of PARAMORMAL ACTIVITY.

It took 17 years for THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT to get the sequel fans deserve. And what better team to bring it than director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett. I have been a fan of these filmmakers since their contribution to V/H/S. And after seeing their film YOU'RE NEXT I became a fan for life.

Adam and Simon's new film was going to be a horror film called THE WOODS. Cool, of course I'll see it. I couldn't wait!

They showed THE WOODS at this years San Diego Comic Con. But what the audience saw that day was BLAIR WITCH, a true blue direct sequel to THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. The geek community went nuts. And of course I was excited but also a tad discouraged my two new favorite filmmakers were not making something original.

BLAIR WITCH takes place 17 years after the events depicted in the original film. After discovering some video footage of what appears to be his sisters experiences in the haunted woods of the Blair Witch, James and a group of friends head to the forest in search of his lost sibling.

My first impressions of BLAIR WITCH were not that great. I left the theater thinking it was just okay. Don't get me wrong, I thought the film was very effective and scary. The sour taste in my mouth was that the movie had too many similar moments from the original. Which automatically makes it one of those remake/sequel things. And they added jump scares this time, which the original had none.

But after mulling it over in my head for about 48 hours, I love the film the more I think about it. Because just like with THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT you have to be in the mind set that getting lost in a haunted forest is some scary shit! And BLAIR WITCH builds on this mythology perfectly!

The main thing I kept thinking about was how much I loved the haunted forest. The filmmakers still follow the less-is-more aspect of the original, but also add a little to the legend. In THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT it's implied that the three teens get lost because the witch is messing with them. In the new film they add the aspect that if you stay in the woods overnight, that's when the Blair Witch curses you.

I love stuff like that! Adding to the mythology of the story without heavy handedness.

And lastly, the film was just down right scary! There is a thunderstorm at the end of the film and the lightning shining through the boarded up windows of the decrepit old house was absolutely terrifying. And yes, we are shown the Blair Witch this time. It seems like something unnecessary, but it's appearance is brief if not subliminal and maybe out of this world. And I found that very cool.

If I had to pick somethings that I didn't like about the movie I'd say that the jump scares could have been left out of the movie. Probably a studio mandated thing? And the film has a antagonist that I found really pointless. I don't know if the point of that character was to make you think the curse and Blair Witch doesn't exist and that crazy townsfolk cultists are behind it all?

My final thoughts are that I highly recommend BLAIR WITCH. It is a good worthy sequel done with love and respect for the original film.

Friday, September 2, 2016


THIRTY ONE is a 2016 film written and directed by Rob Zombie. It is his 6th horror film and by far his best movie to date. Never mind the Rotten Tomato score, better yet, embrace it! 31 should wear it's “critical” response proudly.

Going into THIRTY ONE I wanted to hate it. Hate it with a passion. After his last film THE LORDS OF SALEM, I was ready for Zombie to branch out as a filmmaker. I wanted him to do something different besides horror. For years he had been talking about wanting to do a hockey movie. Cool! Something different! Sadly, it sounds as if said movie will never happen.

I get the impression from a recent Q&A interview that Zombie cannot get the funding he needs for BACKSTREET BRAWLERS (I think that was the title). To me this is so lame. I hate how Hollywood and maybe even a fan base can pigeon hold an artist. In his frustration he made the comment how he could come up with a horror movie idea (THIRTY ONE) in five minutes and get the funding with a snap of the fingers. But a hockey movie? Forget it.

Hearing set backs like this makes me hate Hollywood and so called “fans”. It reminds of when the band Black Sabbath had a song on their most recent album called 'Is God Dead?'. Ozzy sang that he wasn't. Some fans flipped out! “How can a heavy metal band have a song about God and say he's not dead”? I found it both hilarious and lame.

So back to the movie, I went into THIRTY ONE thinking I was going to hate it. Quite the opposite happened, I loved it! And it wasn't because of my low expectations. With THIRTY ONE being a Rob Zombie film I knew exactly what to expect. I could play the film in my head without really seeing it. Characters getting into a situation with no hope of surviving.

I revisit his other films once in a blue moon, especially HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS because of how uncomfortable they make me feel. The sense of dread. All these things are in THIRTY ONE, but the one thing different I liked was how some victims fought back. But as always, Zombie hits you in the gut at a visceral level. I consider him one of the truest exploitation filmmakers working today.

Nothing about his films feel trendy. Most of them if not all being set in the Seventies is about as retro as Zombie gets. Everything else feels authentic because that's his eye for cinema. The sleazy exploitation film.

A good example is filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (whom I'm a fan of) and his contribution to the film GRINDHOUSE, the 87 minute PLANET TERROR . I thought the movie was super cool, but ultimately it's just a feature length trailer and has retro written all over it.

If 42nd Street was still running today the way it was in the late seventies and early eighties, then THIRTY ONE would fit right in!

THIRTY ONE is about a group of carnies driving to the next Carnival. What state fair takes place in the fall? Especially on the 31st of October? Anyways, after a stop for some gas they get abducted by a strange group of folks. Demonic Hambulgers is what they look like.

The carnies are forced to play a murder game, think THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME with a dash of THE RUNNING MAN.

The object of the game is to stay alive for 12 hours. Each round the odds of surviving all depend on how well the victim, er...I mean contestant did the previous round. Each round the murderers get more nasty and inventive. They are all sadistic clowns with an appetite for killing. We got a little person that's dressed up as a Clown Hitler, hillbilly chain-saw wielding brothers, and a twisted clown couple who call themselves Death and Sex. But the one you gotta watch out for and who steals the show is Doom-head. This clown makes Heath Ledger's Joker shit his pants!

It turns out that THIRTY ONE is Rob Zombie's masterpiece!

Rob has taken all the good and all the bad and everything else he's learned from his previous films, and it's all come down to THIRTY ONE. The bonus is that fans are going to be thrilled to death (no pun intended). A perfect storm if you will.

In conclusion, if THIRTY ONE had become Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes then you would know that Rob Zombie had made a terrible exploitation film. I wonder if CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD or CANNIBAL FEROX has a Fresh percentage?

For gory horror and Rob Zombie fans only. I highly recommend 31!!