The Bogus Witch Project (2000)

Rating:

USA. 2000.

Crew

Director – Victor Kargan, Screenplay – Sam Jaffe, Producer – Alex Zamm, Photography – James Jansen, Music – Carvin Knowles, Visual Effects – Encore Hollywood, Special Effects/Production Design – Ken Levin, Makeup Effects/Creatures – Robert Hall. Production Company – Trimark.

The Woods/The Bogus Witch Project

Cast: Pauly Shore (Himself), Jerry Minor (Ted McKinsey), Michael Ian Black (Stephen Hawking), Jackie Harris (Shopping Network Host)

The Watts Bitch Project

Crew: Director – Alex Tuckman, Screenplay/Producers – Tuckman & Bronni Bakke, Photography – Zanobia Hodge.

Cast: Whitney Jackson (Hillary Winfrey), Eric Braun (Mitch), Alex Tuckman (Judd)

The Griffith Park Witch Project

Crew: Directors/Screenplay – Steve Agee, Kelly Anne Conroy & Sammy Primero, Producers – Agee, Conroy, Primero & Sean McGinley, Music – Agee.

Cast: Kelly Anne Conroy, Sammy Primero, Steve Agee

The Blair Underwood Project

Crew: Director/Screenplay – Alex Mebane, Producers – Mebane & Tom Troy.

Cast: Allison Heartinger (Heather), Knox Grantham White (Josh/Orange Salesman), Alex Mebane (Mike/Orange Salesman)

The Bel-Air Witch Project

Crew: Director – Mark Mower, Screenplay – Mower & Kent Kubena, Producer – Kubena, Photography – Brian Bellamy & Stephanie Rogers.

Cast: Jenna Leigh Green (Heather Donahue), Bryan Klugman (Joshua), Judd Trichter (Michael)

The Willie Witch Projects

Crew: Director – Susan Johnson, Screenplay – Avery O. Williams, Producers – Williams & Jesper W. Rasmussen, Photography – Aaron Landman.

Cast: John Eddins (John Stone), Thomas Miles (Eugene), Brenda (Double D)


Plot

The tv show ‘The Woods’ screens various films. The Watts Bitch Project:- Three filmmakers go into the L.A. ghetto of Watts in search of the murdered Watts Bitch but become lost. The Griffith Park Witch Project:- Three filmmakers go hiking in Griffith Park in search of a murdered extra who has supposedly returned as a ghost. However, the expedition falls apart due to internal bickering as the director tries to build a case out of slim-to-no evidence. The Bogus Witch Project:- While camping in a cinema, Pauly Shore recounts how he nearly obtained a part in ‘The Blair Witch Project’. The Blair Underwood Project:- Three student actors become lost while trying to find actor Blair Underwood and give him a script. The Bel-Air Witch Project:- Three student filmmakers go in search of the witch that haunts the L.A. suburb of Bel-Air. The Willie Witch Projects:- Three Black filmmakers try to make a fortune by filming their attempts to find the ghetto tenement known as The Willie Witch Projects.


One of the most notable things about the amazing success of The Blair Witch Project (1999) was the number of imitators it suddenly spawned. The rough-and-ready no-budget shot-on-video simplicity of the film made it much more easily imitable than other films – all one needed to do to imitate Blair Witch was take three people, a video camera and go hiking in the woods. Although the peculiarity that is noticeable about these imitations is that they have so far produced more films spoofing The Blair Witch Project than they have films imitating it. So far we have had – The Bare Wench Project (1999), The Blair Bitch Project (1999), The Blair Witch Rejects (1999), The Erotic Witch Project (1999), Da Hip Hop Witch (2000), The Bare Hick Project (2000), Scary Movie (2000) and The Tony Blair Witch Project (2000). The Bogus Witch Project for example is an entire anthology of Blair Witch spoofs – six of them. Indeed, The Bogus Witch Project gives the impression of someone having cannily purchased a whole stack of student shorts and edited them together into a compilation package.

The Bogus Witch Project uses the central framework of these pieces airing on a tv show called The Woods. This makes The Bogus Witch Project seem like a horror movie version of Amazon Women on the Moon (1987). Each short comes interspersed with some not very funny ads – a lawyer who represents werewolves for worker compensations and alien impregnation victims, infomercials for Blair Witch stick figures, an unfunny series of America’s Goriest Home Videos, a series of horror storyteller promos featuring Jason and the like, and one slightly amusing mock trailer for a film called Stalking on Elm Street that features a Stephen Hawking lookalike as the slasher.

The problem with the six Blair Witch spoofs is that the parody quickly becomes repetitive. Several of the pieces repeat the same gag – the video camera being stolen, someone forgetting to take the lens cap off, the climactic scene of the guy standing against the wall being someone taking a piss. The Blair Underwood Project sounds a cute idea on paper but the piece is belaboured and strained in trying to be funny. Ditto The Willie Witch Projects, which tries to draw some potentially amusing humour from a Boyz ‘N the Hood (1991) take on Blair Witch but ends up with some excruciatingly shrill scenes with a drag queen flouncing about in the wilderness. The Griffith Park Witch Project – a piece about a deluded Heather Donahue-type desperately trying to find evidence even when such doesn’t exist – is not particularly funny and suffers from an almost callous nastiness toward the central character. Although the most excruciating piece is the title segment – the only professional seeming piece in the group with the only recognizable name, Pauly Shore. Pauly Shore is possibly the most irritating and annoying screen presence in the world. The segment – a few brief scenes with Shore camping in a cinema – has no real rhyme, rationale or even coherence to it and its sole virtue is that it is the shortest of the segments.

There are a couple of segments that are occasionally amusing. The Bel-Air Witch Project – a slight piece with the filmmaking trio searching the ritzy L.A. neighbourhood of Bel-Air – has one of two amusing moments – Jenna Leigh Green parodies Heather Donahue’s tearful last confession: “I am truly sorry to the Screen Actors Guild for joining a non-union project,” while the mysterious objects found outside the tent turns out to be doggie poop: “Oh my God, that wasn’t here last night.” The most amusing segment is The Watts Bitch Project with a group lost in the L.A. ghetto suburb of Watts – where the 16mm camera turns out to be a 16mm projector and the girl gets propositioned by a pimp. Some of the lines here are amusing:– “They called the LAPD but by the time they got there three months later the bodies had mysteriously disappeared” and [in reference to being lost] “If we keep going we’re going to hit White People soon. At least Koreans.” If this piece had been extended for the whole film, The Bogus Witch Project might have been quite funny.



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