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Exploring Blair Witch 2 Book of Shadows – Episode 138

38 Responses to “Exploring Blair Witch 2 Book of Shadows – Episode 138”

  • Well, you certainly make a great case for this movie(good intro,btw) and it’s too bad that a Director’s Cut isn’t available. I saw the original Blair Witch Project twice during it’s theatrical run and yeah,it was more effective in that environment but still chilling to watch at home. Had no interest in the sequel,mainly due to the ad campaign that pretty much announced the cookie cutter version the studios were going for.

    The whole found footage trope is getting a bit old yet I do believe the Paranormal Activity series has used it well(haven’t seen part four yet,so that opinion may change!).

    • Cecil:

      Thanks! The original intro was going to be the same music but a first person view of walking through the woods. The whole thing just fell apart, unfortunately. Eric got super busy and then I had to come up with a new concept for the intro, since what we planned was outside my skills with AE. I’m glad it turned out ok. I was a little “eh” on the Blair Witch text but it was like 2 in the morning and I just wanted to get this thing finished and out there.

      I don’t remember exactly how many times I saw the original in theaters but it was at least 3. It was the perfect storm for having a theatrical “experience”. This was before smart phones were everywhere and when people actually didn’t act like complete jerks in the theater. Me and my friends saw it and in the theater the tension was so thick you could feel it. Everyone was terrified. The marketing, the timing, everything just came together at the right moment. I just wanted to point out how here we are over a decade later and people don’t seem to remember just how huge this thing was.

      The brilliant minds who marketed the first one most have lost those minds trying to market the second one. They made it appear as bland as possible and completely screwed over the director. A shame they didn’t let it stand on its own, I think it would have shocked a lot of people and would be held in much greater regard today.

      FF, when done well, is great. Paranormal Activity (with the original ending) scared the crap out of me and the Mrs. Troll Hunter was fantastic. When it is used in an inventive way it works but most often studios just want to make a horror film cheaply and found footage is the way to go.

  • Albert:

    You make a compelling argument for why this movie deserves more credit, I will have to give this one another watch.

  • Dan:

    Cecil, this was absolutely terrific. I would actually like to see this imaginary director’s cut despite having no intention to see the film beforehand. I think that reaction is pretty much exactly the point of your reviews.

    I don’t think the younger generation can appreciate how good the original film was for us who saw it the first time around. The uncertainty over what was fact vs fiction made it a special event. Now, of course, we are the internet generation, tired of viral marketing and saturated with found-footage films.

    • Cecil:

      Thank you! Its such a shame, I’ve put together the closest thing to what the director explained and it is a completely different movie. I’ve shown it to some of my local friends and they love it. Unfortunately, I have no way of sharing it with the online folks without violating a crap ton of laws. Such a shame, this is really the way the film deserves to be seen.

      Oh and yes, I have achieved exactly what I set out to do then. 🙂

      The internet was still making its way into the mainstream at the time and mostly only either college students or tech savvy folks had it. Now if something like this came out it was be torn apart, spoiled, etc, etc, so that by the time it hit theaters everyone would know it was fake. The uncertainty of the original and the unique nature of it made people curious. It worked incredibly well…it was, as they say, lightning in a bottle.

      Now viral marketing campaigns are everywhere as is found footage movies. Most of the youth of today don’t understand just how incredible the first movie was because you had to be there, in the moment. It was unlike anything that had come before and really stuck with people.

  • Melissa:

    Wow, and to think I used to hate this film. Thanks for the big eye opener, Cecil. Honestly, when I first saw this movie , I was like “What the f(bleep)ck did they do?!”. Now I can atleast see how it was meant to be portrayed. I really wish I had a director’s cut of my own now. Maybe a kick starter project will release one.

    Also, I’d to see Behemoth on your show someday.

    • Cecil:

      A lot of people hated this but I think a good bit of that falls on the studio. Not just for re-editing the film but in the way they handled the marketing. I was with the Geek Juice folks and they all remembered hating the film, then after going back and watching it again they were surprised at how much they enjoyed it. I think its one of those movies where people were expecting one thing and got another, which pissed them off. After letting it sit for a while you can go back with a fresh pair of eyes and find the film is rather good.

      Now, the director’s cut is the way to see the film but sadly, there is no way to get that out there. I’m going to start tweeting Shout factory and see if this is a possibility.

      Behemoth…the one from 2011?

  • Jr.:

    Great video, Cecil! I wasn’t too sure about the movie before but you’ve convinced me to give the film another go. I think Blair Witch 2 may have suffered from Halloween 3 syndome, where people go expecting one thing and get mad after getting something else.

    Oh, and speaking of found footage, ever think about reviewing The Last Broadcast?

    • Cecil:

      Thank you! That may very well be the case, although Halloween has gone on to become a cult classic while Blair Witch 2 is still hated/disliked.

      The Last Broadcast is great. I managed to get a VHS copy before the studios put a block on it, similar to what Screen Gems did to REC when Quarantine was about to come out. My only problem with Last Broadcast is that it does feel like they run out of steam towards the end. They start to repeat themselves and it gets redundant. Still, good stuff. I do plan on covering it one day.

  • ThatIsAnAndroid:

    I love the first Blair Witch Project for how tense it is to watch even though really nothing happens. I only watch the sequel very recently in preperation for your review and it wasn’t as horrible as I heared still wasn’t mad keen on it however I’ll give it the films well acted and all of the main characters have distincet personalities something that not all horror films have.

    • Cecil:

      Agreed, although that is what a lot of people were upset about. They wanted to see something pop out and kill them. For me the beauty was not knowing what happened. That is so much scarier than seeing a witch fly at the screen. Honestly, if the movie would have ended with something like that it would have ruined it.

      Even in the studio chopped version, I don’t understand how the film is so hated. I think a good portion of it is excess backlash leftover from the first. I’ve had numerous conversations with people who yelled and screamed about how much it sucked but when confronted they admitted they never actually watched it.

  • Tom:

    Great video, I didn’t know how much studio interference was involved in this film and the directors version sounded intriguing. Although I loved the first one and I am a fan of the star from Burn Notice, I still think Book of Shadows is irredeemably bad even if it had potential.

    • Cecil:

      I just hope that one day the director’s cut is officially released. Seriously, it is an awesome movie when seen the way it is intended to be seen.

  • Good review you should do a review of a highly underrated sequel The Rage;Carrie 2 & Halloween III

  • I remember watching that movie and feeling that pull, as though there was something deeper going on but not allowing itself to be birthed.

    Honestly, after watching BWP2 I didn’t watch a sequel for two years.

    I saw BWP2 first, I was a kid when BWP came out and didn’t have the Internet in 94. Being Canadian meant that my exposure to the film was more a contact high. I’d seen BWP at home at some point later, I thought the movie was derivative and generally a waste of my time.

    I’d already sped through most horror worth watching (in my young mind) and with Army of Darkness and ED, ED2 under my belt thought I knew enough about cult horror to tell BWP fans off.

    I would have never known about the social aspect to the movie’s marketing, or the value of BWP2.

    Great show as always sir.

    • Cecil:

      While I enjoy the Blair Witch Project a large part of that enjoyment was being able to be swept up in the story. There was so much content that lead up to the release, that when it finally came out it was an event. The first time I saw it I had no less than 10 friends in the theater with me to see it. Before the film started we were talking about all the side stories, theories and what not. So much of the film takes place in your head and when it was over, it lived there. That is just one of those magical times when everything comes together, which is why I say that people seeing it either after the hype or seeing it now miss out on all the hysteria that went along with it. I was hanging around my buddies college and it was all anyone talked about. We were constantly going to the website and looking for any new material. Probably the closest thing to this now would be the “I love bees” Halo Alt/reality from a few years back.

      I did my best to show just how massive the film was at the time and then how that lead into the sequel.

      As I’ve said before, BW2 still has merit, even in its studio chopped form. It’s just that the director’s cut is really the way it should be seen. So sad that they don’t offer the option on the DVD.

      Thanks for the support and the kind tweets. Makes all this work worth it. 🙂

  • Trevor:

    Cecil, you NAILED IT!
    I love this movie, and have ever since I first saw it while I was working at a video store in 2000. The directors commentary just makes this film that much more watchable and frustrating at the same time because the studio interferred so much that it basically damned the film before it ever reached the screens. I thought the film was haunting, decently acted and well directed and written by Berlinger and Dick Bebee. I don’t know if you noticed the similarities between Paradise Lost and Blair Witch 2, they’re subtle but they are there. I actually met Erica Leehrsen at comic con in 07 and told her how much I loved the film and how misunderstood it was. I do hope you’re right and the Shout Factory get it’s hands on the film and gives us a directors cut on blu ray with maybe a retrospective. I remember this movie had a few defenders upon it’s original release such as Harry Knowles and Richard Roeper. And that made me feel even more secure in enjoying the film because it seemed to become one of those movies that you almost were ashamed to admit you enjoyed, much like another favorite of mine “Super Mario Bros” This is why I love this show because I feel almost vindicated and you give people like us a voice that can’t properly express in words themselves. please keep up the amazing work!

    • Cecil:

      Many thanks 🙂

      I did notice the similarities between Paradise Lost and Blair Witch 2. The director even mentioned it on occasion. I just didn’t have enough on it to bring it up and didn’t want to shift the focus away so I let it go.

      I would have loved to get an autograph with Erica.

      This is one of those movies that even in the studio cut form, I can’t understand all the hate. There are far worse films out there that get a pass.

      Thank you so much, hearing that makes me very happy. ^^

  • mogens:

    i am sorry cecil but dit nostalgia critic already reviews this one in his nostalgia ween

    • Cecil:

      So…what exactly? I haven’t seen his version but I’m sure he trashes the film. I can guarantee my video and his are nothing alike. Are you implying that once he does a movie no one else can? Are you even watching my videos at this point?

    • Jesse:

      Yeah, you’re right! Once something has been done on the internet, it should never be done by anyone else, ever again. Come to think of it, I’ve seen a ton of idiotic, thoughtless comments on the internet already. So you should ggo ahead and delete yours, lest you become a hypocrite.

      Great review, Cecil. I’m always glad to see this movie get the praise it deserves. I’ve always like Blair Witch 2 and I never knew about the studio’s butchering of the film. I’d love to see the director’s original cut. You would think someone would have put it on YouTube by now. I know YouTube is quick to take stuff down, but sometimes, these things have a way of slipping through the cracks. Hell, I saw The Wolverine on there a few weeks ago. Granted, it was dubbed in another language, but it was nice to see someone slip one past YouTube. It had been up for several weeks. It may still be there.

      Anyway, thanks again for the great review. You make me want to watch this all over again. I think I will.

  • Cristiona:

    Wow, Cecil. That was a pretty great intro. Nice job!

    That recap of the campaign for the original is spot on. It was pretty amazing and all but invented (or at least perfected) the concept of viral marketing. Also, I’m totally in the “actually scary and more than a little brilliant” camp.

    I’ll admit that I stayed away from this because of the general trashing it received. I’m sad that it’s mostly a case of studio meddling. I don’t universally despise studio bigwigs because they can perform a valuable service in reining in directors (compare A New Hope to Phantom Menace), but too often it seems they need to be pulled back themselves.

    Your defense here is amazing, and makes me really want to see this. The way it was supposed to be seen. I think I’d do myself a real disservice watching the studio cut first. Hopefully a director’s cut will happen.

    • Cecil:

      Thanks! I’m a little unhappy with the font but it was getting late and I just wanted to get it finished so I could go to sleep. The image is a multilayered photoshop file and I wanted to have the pictures, newspaper, etc all come sliding in as the camera panned across the table. I couldn’t get it to look quite right so I just opted to have them all lay there. It still is effective but just not exactly what I had in my head. Oh well, I’ll have to see if I can take some more After Effects classes.

      The original Blair Witch sucker punched everyone with an amazingly well done viral marketing campaign…I think even before viral marketing was a term. They put effort into making people interested in the film and managed to figure out how to create their own buzz and word of mouth. Once the website took off, the people did a lot of the work for them. So much better than the lazy “here is a trailer that looks like every other trailer go see our movie”. They earned their money and then they go and lose their shit with the sequel. It was like everything they learned was now blocked by piles of money.

      As a rule, directors should be left the hell alone. They were hired to do a job and since it is their name that will be ultimately attached to the product, they should be left at it. I understand sometimes the producer may need to step in to keep things under budget or to stop an uprising of the crew (there’s been more than one film where the crew turned on the director) but more times than not the producers only mess up the production. How many films have been released where they were bad but then the directors cut comes out and is better and fixes many of the issues with the theatrical release? I would say well into 90%. Ever wonder why you don’t see a Producer’s cut?

      Thank you so much. I’m going to start bugging Shout factory and get them on the case. The world needs to see the director’s cut of this.

      • Cristiona:

        Usually, yes; leave the director alone. I think the problem is that some directors really need a firm hand. Lucas had a short leash with A New Hope, and it worked brilliantly. Not so much with Phantom Menace (Red Letter Media really examines this in one of their videos). Likewise, Richard Kelly can direct and has complex ideas, but when he’s allowed to run free, you get Southland Tales or The Box. I mean, I didn’t really like Donnie Darko either, but I can see why people did.

        You can see it across all media. For instance, the Harry Potter books. You can see exactly where JK fired her editor because the books explode in size.

        I think the trick is that the producer generally needs to use a light touch to keep things in line. Even a true artist needs some boundries or you get the classic ego-project messes that are so famous. Of course, producers aren’t artists, they’re bank accounts. They need to remember that. It can be a delicate balance, but I certainly agree that far too often they err on the side of too much input from the producer.

        And, I guess, at least when the artist runs wild it’s usually interesting. A producer running amuck is usually bland.

        • Cecil:

          Yeah, Lucas wanted to make Han Solo a fish but thankfully the producers were there to tell him to knock it off. So yes, sometimes they do serve a purpose. Most times though, they are just glorified bean counters who care not for art but for how they can turn a profit. Beyond that, sometimes they are just thieves. I’ve heard more than one horror story of an executive taking a large chunk of the budget to Vegas and blowing the whole thing or others where they producer fights with the director to make the film well under budget, pockets the remainder, and then still claimed the film cost the original amount.

          Donnie Darko is one of those weird cases where the original cut is the right one. The directors cut was awful.

          You explained it perfectly. Artistic ego trips are often glorious messes while studio interferences are dull disasters.

  • mogens:

    yes i do and i acsely like them by the way (cool as ice my favorite by the way)

  • MVandi:

    At the time the original Blair Witch came out I refused to have anything to do with it because of it’s suggestion that there was a witch involved in murder. As a student of the occult and neopaganism at the time I took some great issue with it. Also The Craft. Hey, Jeffrey Donovan! hehehehe!

  • Foobs:

    When I watched the movie some years ago, I thought it was one of those cases of a good movie hiding in a bad movie. Now I discover that it may have been a good movie ruined by the studio…

  • Richard Halpern:

    Hi Cecil. Well done. I am a producer who works with Dan Myrick a lot. Could you please email me privately? Like to ask you something. Thanks! Richard

  • Here's the director's cut:

    This is as good as it gets http://fanedit.info/files/stefanedit_book-of-shadows.rar

    • Cecil:

      Saw that one. Mine was slightly different. I had the original outro tune as Haunted by Poe rather than the Shining theme. A few other odds and ends but very close.

  • greg:

    Hey man love you’re reviews/exploring series would love to see these older videos make a comeback. tried telling my friends about this specific video to see it has been taken down. any chance of it returning?

    • Cecil:

      Thanks! Are you outside the US? Lionsgate blocked this one in many places outside the US. If you look up youtube region blocker you can get around it to see the video.

  • Jem:

    Ever since I saw this video I’ve wanted nothing more than to see this edit of the movie. I finally got a chance to download it only to find that one of the rars is missing, so I’ve been crawling the internet for a week trying to find it to no avail. Since I came here and there was a very recent comment I didn’t think it would hurt to leave one asking for help. Can someone either hook me up with bos_19.rar or a complete download of the SteFAN edit? I like the original BoS as it is but I think I’d like this edit even more. Thanks.

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