Author: Gareth

I'm in my very early thirties and I don't blog half as much as I'd like to. I'm constantly working on fixing this, though nothing ever bloody comes of it. Let's just see how we go...

Detectives For A Day

DJ2r7JQXcAAGzEy - Edited

Today some friends and I took part in a live-action mystery game called “Cardiff Casebook: The Mystery Of The Star Eaters”. We took the role of consulting detectives tasked with discovering the whereabouts of a university professor whose obsession with an ancient local legend had apparently led to him vanishing without a trace.

We walked all over the city, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence, putting the pieces together one by one. It took us three and a half hours, but we cracked the case and even earned membership of an ancient organisation with an unbelievable secret!

We all had an amazing time. It was immersive, challenging and great exercise. We had a taste of what it would be like to be Sherlock Holmes (or, more fittingly, Dirk Gently). While some of the clues were fairly easy to follow, a couple of others were frustratingly difficult. The storyline was far-fetched but incredibly interesting, incorporating ancient cults, buried treasure, crooked conspiracy theorists and greed, greed, greed.

Next year the company plans to stage another, new case and I am pleased to say we’ll be among the first to sign up to take part. I wonder what they’ll have for us next time?! These Casefile games happen all over the country, so if you notice one happing where you live then please take the plunge and go along.

It isn’t cheap. Participation is set at £7.00 per person though, while all six of us paid this time, next time we’d be more tempted to get just one ticket, as each team only got one set of evidence, regardless of how many of them had paid to play. We know this for next time. And there will be a next time. We can’t wait to play again!

Advertisements

Metal Earth Millennium Falcon

I think I’ve found a new hobby…

This model was made from two tiny sheets of metal, from which you pop out the pieces and fix them together by bending and twisting tabs. This one took me maybe 2 hours to complete. I immediately ordered another model, this time a Tie Fighter. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of that one as I plan to take photos as I go. 

These Metal Earth model kits are awesome!

Elly And Me – The Blair Witch Project (1999)

In October of 1994 three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary…

…A year later their footage was found.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)

964d7ce4cba10365c62c0d8e98e11354.jpg

So begins one of the most successful horror movies of the 20th Century. It is, I think, undeniable that The Blair Witch Project re-wrote the rule book of modern horror and paved the way for the countless “found footage” horror features to follow. None captured the suspense, paranoia and sheer terror of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’s $36,000 masterpiece.

1999 was a great year for film (seriously, check it out), but there was a buzz around The Blair Witch Project that most of the more expensive, more flashy flicks didn’t have. The film had one of the most intricate and immersive online viral marketing strategies in history. I didn’t see the movie at the cinema, having heard from a trusted friend that it would be better enjoyed “on the small screen, in the middle of the night”. I did, however, throw myself into the maze of online supportive material. I watched a documentary about a 1940s child murderer called Rustin Parr, who claimed in his interrogation that he did what he did because the voice of an old woman told him to. Burkittsville locals, I learned, believed this voice to be that of the Blair Witch. I learned that the Blair Witch was called Elly Kedward who, back when the town was called Blair, had lured the town’s children to her home and bled them. Accused of witchcraft and exiled from the town Elly was set upon by the locals; tied to a tree, tortured and left to freeze to death in the bitter Maryland winter. Come spring, there was no sign of her body, no remains at all. I still hadn’t seen the movie, which I knew to be about some missing filmmakers who must have been following the same clues I was now hoovering up; I knew all about the history that drew them to the Black Hills forest in 1994.

Of course, none of that ever happened. There were hour-long documentaries available about Parr and books and papers documenting the Kedward case. But it was all a brilliant fabrication, a tapestry of horrors sewn by the writers/directors of The Blair Witch Project. I was enthralled. Websites and message boards spoke of the terrible fate of the only Parr victim to survive – Kyle Brody; Fuzzy videos claimed to show the witch herself stalking the woods; Scans of ancient photographs of first Treacle search party, taken hours before their horrific slaughter, made me familiar with Coffin Rock. It was all made up! I still hadn’t seen the film, but the tie-in book, including the surviving pages of Heather’s journal, left me an expert of her every move.

I remember the first time I watched The Blair Witch Project. It was on a tiny portable TV/VHS combo at a friend’s house. We drew the curtains and turned up the volume. For the next 80-or-so minutes we were silent, still and entirely convinced that we’d just witnessed film history. I remember pausing our scratchy pirate VHS copy and slow-scanning the last scene. We scrutinised every flickering frame, determined to see every little thing. Maybe we’d see something even the film compilers had missed! Maybe we could solve the mystery ourselves! By this point, after weeks of internet research and an hour and twenty minutes of evidence, we had completely forgotten that it was all a fiction. We were investigators following lead after lead. We were hooked on the myth, just like the unfortunate triumvirate whose terrifying end we had just witnessed. I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing The Blair Witch Project for the first time. Never. Heather Donahue, Mike Williams, and Joshua Leonard were my friends and I mourned them.

The stars of the film were unknown to me. I was a film buff but I didn’t know the actors in this film. They used their real names and operated their own cameras and sound gear, I learned. They worked mostly without a script and much of the fear they showed on screen was real. They really were out in the woods, being terrorised by night and bickering in the rain by day. Christ, maybe it was real after all! A few years later, while watching a TV show called Taken, I saw Heather Donahue. She was one of the shady government bad guys. The spell was broken somewhat; she was in something else. I felt a little sad. It’s silly, looking back, but there it is. But I didn’t allow my enjoyment of my favourite horror film to be tarnished. I still adore this film.

When the movie was released on home video (no DVDs for me back then) I saw the film (at last count) 30 times. I remember distinctly thinking “you should probably stop counting the views now, 30+ will do as an answer should anyone ask…” – It’s still a film I can sit down and watch. Is “formative” too strong a word? I was never a massive horror fan but this…! This was something else, transcending traditional horror. I was – and am still – an expert on the film. Not so much on the making of it, but on the legend around it. I made stickmen and hung them in my room; it was to be the first tattoo I’d ever get (I didn’t ever get it). I was still regularly re-watching the film when Empire magazine informed me that there was to be a sequel and that it was to “eschew the ‘shaky cam’ technique that nauseated so many cinemagoers first time around”. Taking place a year after the discovery and release of Donahues’s footage, Blair Witch 2 promised to explore the existing lore of the Blair Witch while expanding on the legend in a whole new way. I was overjoyed! I was more excited than I had ever been over a film. Surely they couldn’t fuck this up? Surely it would deliver?

Find out if it did next time…