Video Picks Archive

October 27, 1999
This Week's Video Picks
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This week my picks are The Blair Witch Project (1999 - ) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935 - ).

The first film has done nothing short of changing the rules of how to make a successful horror film. Shot on an initial budget of $40,000, The Blair Witch Project would eventually gross over $140M at the U.S. box office. The film is presented as recovered footage that was edited together after the disappearance of three film students. Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard play characters named after themselves, who go to the small town of Burkittsville, Maryland to shoot a documentary. Their subject is the "Blair Witch", a local legend about a child murderer and cannibal. They go into the woods to look for evidence, and never come back. This film managed to be frugal by having the three actors shoot all the footage and record all the sound themselves. We are shown here that a film can create suspense and a solid story structure entirely through improvisational acting and creative editing. Most follow-ups in this genre (The Haunting, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Bats) have failed to deliver, even with studio budgets and fancy special effects.
Full review from July 18, 1999

The world of cinema had not seen such a revolutionary work in horror since the second film opened in 1935. James Whale agreed to direct a sequel to his wildly popular 1931 film: Frankenstein, based on the novel of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. This time, however, it would be made strictly on his terms. What he created was a rare instance of a sequel that far surpasses the original. Colin Clive returns as Dr. Frankenstein, whose new marriage is interrupted by his mentor from medical school, Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), who proposes a new experiment: create a woman. Of course, Frankenstein already tried his hand at making a man (Boris Karloff), who is now spreading joy and mayhem about the German countryside. Everything in the production (the set design, the cinematography, and especially the music) were far beyond anything ever seen in horror films. William Hurlbut's screenplay (which Whale had a lot of say over) is full of great moments ranging from the outlandish dialogue of Pretorius, to the scene between the monster and the blind hermit (O.P. Heggie) that was rich with pathos. Getting into all the sacrilegious and homoerotic symbolism would be too much to write in a capsule review. Treat yourself to an exceptionally spooky Halloween, and go rent (better yet, buy) The Blair Witch Project and Bride of Frankenstein. No mere textual description could do them justice.

For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Here's some merchandise for sale at
The Blair Witch Project (1999) -- VHS
The Blair Witch Project (1999) -- DVD
Curse of the Blair Witch (1999) -- VHS
The Blair Witch Project/Curse of the Blair Witch (1999) -- VHS (2 tapes - save even more!)
The Blair Witch Project, "a dossier" by David Stern -- Paperback
Josh's Blair Witch Mix -- Compact Disc
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) -- VHS
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) -- DVD
Frankenstein, a novel by Mary Shelley -- Hardcover
Frankenstein, a novel by Mary Shelley -- Paperback
Frankenstein, a novel by Mary Shelley -- Audio Cassette (read by Richard Pasco)
Bride Of Frankenstein (1993 Rerecording Of 1935 Film Score) -- Compact Disc Home
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Capsule Reviews © 1999 Matt Heffernan