All month long I’m looking back on the events of my life that turned me from a scared child into a horror loving adult.  Today I look back at that controversial film, The Blair Witch Project.

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Before everything was on the internet it used to be much easier to fool people.  Alright, according to Facebook its still easy to fool people but these tricks were more pop culture treachery than political buffoonery.  One great trick was to make a very low budget horror movie then tell all of the actors to stay out of public for a few months.  Get some really creepy PR going, have people wonder if its real and you got yourself a success story.

I had heard of the movie but, again, at that time I didn’t really do horror.  Although, the more I write the more I realize how much it was creeping into my life.  Friends had seen it and loved it.  Talk was everywhere.  Finally the high school girlfriend wanted to see it.  One night we went to the movie theater and everything changed.

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Found footage films were still a brand new idea.  Not yet over done this was groundbreaking.  We had the Real World but we didn’t yet have the deluge of reality TV you see today.  Certainly nothing like that in movies.  While some find it boring I was engrossed.  There was no way to know what would happen next.  The build up of tension was horrible.  I began to feel like the woods were all around me and I was out in the unknown as well.  When an actual thunder storm rolled over the metal theater roof at the same time it was raining in the movie I stopped knowing how to separate fantasy from reality.

While I could no longer split what was true part of my mind went off and split again.  Still taking in every moment of the movie and every jump scene but also studying the movie.  How is this working?  Why am I so scared over what is just a couple people in the woods?  This was brand new to me.  I know now, like anything else, that there was precedent.  But in my eyes it was like being scared for the first time.  Plus it was a great movie, mind games aside.

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Earlier Scream taught me that horror could be written well.  Blair Witch showed me the psychology behind it.  To take an aside, I was very into wrestling shoot interviews at the time.  Guys sitting down and talking about their careers and matches and why things worked or didn’t work.  There is a psychology to wrestling.  Don’t jump off the top rope to the floor in the first minute.  Tease it.  Try it two or three times so when the move hits the crowd goes crazy for it.  Tease something bad.  Rocks thrown at the tent.  Scary sounds.  Then when something more happens everyone in the theater is in terror. If I could understand this science I can embrace it.

This post and others are part of a collection of blogs celebrating the Countdown to Halloween.  Come join us.

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