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Sunday, 21 September 2008

The Blair Witch Mountain Project (2002)

I don't believe I ever got to see Escape to Witch Mountain as a kid, so I had no idea what sort of fuss got built up about it. While no raging hit, it was apparently a decent success for Disney, so they made a sequel three years later: Return from Witch Mountain, which brought back Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann as Tia and Tony, and added into the mix Bette Davis and Christopher Lee. Wandering around IMDb, I noticed that there are other Witch Mountain films too.

There's a 1995 TV made version of the same story with the same name; a second sequel called Beyond Witch Mountain, again made for TV, in 1982, that had a new Tony and Tia but brought back Eddie Albert; and a direct remake of the original film due next year called Race to Witch Mountain. The one that looked most intriguing though was this one, a 12 minute short called The Blair Witch Mountain Project, directed by the original Tony, Ike Eisenmann, and featuring a number of the original cast members in a blurring of reality spoof on The Blair Witch Project.

It's actually a pretty cool little film. Eisenmann, now known as Iake Eissinmann, moved behind the camera in the late eighties, forgoing acting for directing, producing, writing and voicework. He's made a couple of educational films that seem to be highly regarded, The Mystery of Shooting Stars and The Mystery of Gravity, done voicework on the American releases of some Miyazaki films, produced a slew of cartoon collections and other work too. He obviously has a sense of humour, as possibly best exercised here, as writer, director and one of the focuses of this film.

Hope Levy, best known as a voice actor herself, plays an amateur journalist and Witch Mountain fan, Blair Billingsley, who wants to find Tony and Tia to interview them, so works through a number of their former colleagues: actors from the first two films, fans, experts, you name it. Some of them are real, some fake, but that's the fun. While Blair initially just wants to interview Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards, she gradually finds a belief that they're more than actors, they're really aliens just like Tony and Tia. The best fun here is watching Blair Billingsley lose it and try to emulate the characters she's seeking, by trying to open the locked gate to the Pasadena Rosebowl with the power of her mind.

It's fluff, it's only twelve minutes long and it's completely pointless for anyone who hasn't seen at least one of the Witch Mountain movies, preferably the first two, but it's very nicely done indeed. Not having grown up with Tony and Tia, I don't have the sort of yearning to know what they look like now, the way that many fans who fell for the characters do. But I probably appreciated this little slice of cinematic self referencing spoofery as much as I did the actual 1975 Disney film. And if anyone wants to see it, it's available for download at Kim Richards's website. The direct url is http://www.kimrichards.net/videos10.html.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seeing all this regarding Witch Mountain just brings up wonderful childhood memories. I had a great time and that involved the two Witch Mountain movies. I wish children knew what real fun and joy was without all these computer gadgets. They have more to tell their children.
Thank you Tony and Tia for bringing up the best memories of my life!