Explore the full Blair Witch legend with our guide to everything that’s out there
Is the Blair Witch legend true? It’s impossible to say what’s really behind some of the unexplained incidents that have occurred in around the town of Burkittsville, Maryland, including in the infamous 1994 disappearance of Montgomery College filmmakers Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael C. Williams. Over the years, tales of the Blair Witch have been connected to local tragedies left and right.
20 years after the trio featured in The Blair Witch Project vanished, we’re taking a look back at everything that has been published relating to the Blair Witch, be it as feature films, documentaries, comic books, video games or even toys.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
While the 1994 case remains unsolved, footage recovered in Maryland’s Black Hills suggests that the filmmaking trio may have met a fate that begs belief. Although no bodies were recovered, footage from their documentary about the Burkittsville local legend was discovered in the woods a year after the students went missing. That footage was ultimately released to the public in 1999 as the feature film The Blair Witch Project.
Hugely successful at the box office, the immediate pop culture impact of The Blair Witch Project led many audiences to dismiss the story as a hoax.
20 years later, there’s still little evidence to say what really happened in those woods. Since then, however, the Blair Witch legend has only grown.
The Blair Witch Project: A Dossier (1999)
In conjunction with the theatrical wide release of The Blair Witch Project, Haxan Films worked alongside occult expert D.A. Stern to compile a book that examines the events of the film as objectively as possible. The tome reprints quite a few documents tied to both the 1994 missing persons case and the broader Blair Witch legend, beginning with a look at Elly Kedward, the 18th century woman accused of witchcraft in the town of Blair and summarily left in the woods to die.
Also included in the Dossier is details on how the Blair Witch Project’s footage came into the hands of filmmakers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez and how they cut it together for a big screen release.
The same week that The Blair Witch Project got a wide release in 1999, the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy) aired the 45-minute documentary Curse of the Blair Witch. The program offers firsthand interviews with several individuals close to Donahue, Leonard and Williams, including their Montgomery College film professor. One of the highlights of the video is rare archival footage from the 1971 documentary program Mystic Occurrences,in which host Lucan Johnson discusses Elly Kedward and the role the Blair Witch legend plays in the history of witchcraft.
Curse of the Blair Witch also features a conversation with the Burkittsville Historical Society’s Bill Barnes, who have claims to have once possessed a copy of the legendary The Blair Witch Cult, a text dating back to 1806 that is said to contain occult writings and detailed entries about encounters with the Blair Witch.
Josh’s Blair Witch Mix
In an unusual movie, a burned mix CD that Joshua Leonard prepared for his trip to Burkittsville was released in conjunction with The Blair Witch Project‘s theatrical debut.
Included with copies of Josh’s Blair Witch Mix is a data file that offers an extended scene from the production’s recovered footage.
Sticks and Stones: An Exploration of the Blair Witch Legend (1999)
Released to VHS as part of a special Blockbuster Video promotion that ran when The Blair Witch Project came to home video, Sticks and Stones runs 30 minutes and overlaps quite a bit with Curse of the Blair Witch. It primarily consists of alternate cuts of many of the previous films’ interviews, but there is some new material to be found, including a brief 1995 conversation with Joshua Leonard’s father about his son’s disappearance.
The end of Sticks and Stones also includes an interview with two members of the Maryland search team that discovered the 1994 footage. Conducted by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, it was considered for inclusion in the theatrical release of The Blair Witch Project. Similarly, Sticks offers an extended conversation between Donahue and Williams from that discovered material.
The Blair Witch Chronicles (1999 – 2000)
Shortly after the theatrical release of The Blair Witch Project, Oni Press published first a Blair Witch one shot and then a four-issue miniseries titled The Blair Witch Chronicles (all of which were later collected into a single trade paperback volume). Printed in black and white, each issue offered short stories inspired by the Blair Witch legend, including adaptations of the stories central to the mythology.
The original Oni Press one shot includes an annotated version of Cece Malvey’s Wood Witch Said! Malvey, a Johns Hopkins student, self published the original comic in 1983, claiming that he was being driven mad by visions of the tales he then put forth within. Shortly thereafter, Malvey was found hanged in his apartment.
The Burkittsville 7 (2000)
When The Blair Witch Project premiered on Showtime, it was accompanied by a new 40-minute Blair Witch documentary that really delves specifically into the case of Rustin Parr and the one surviving boy, Kyle Brody. Some have even gone so far as to theorize that Brody — who was just a child when the other seven children were killed — may have himself been involved in the murders. After Parr was hanged, Brody grew up to become a troubled adult, spending most of the latter part of his life in mental institutions before committing suicide in 1971.
The Burkittsville 7 includes rare footage from the 1969 cinematic cult classic White Enamel, famous for having filmed in and around a variety of Maryland mental institutions. Among the footage included is a look at Brody and his madness.
Director Ben Rock has since published The Burkittsville 7 to Vimeo and you can check it out in full in the player below:
Blair Witch Volumes I – III (2000)
The three central stories of the Blair Witch legend were adapted into a video game trilogy that lets gamers experience firsthand each tale in reverse order. Rustin Parr covers the 1941 murders, The Legend of Coffin Rock the brutal dismemberment of an 1886 search party, and The Elly Kedward Tale of the woman that the world would come to know as the Blair Witch herself.
Bizarrely, the Rustin Parr chapters crosses over with Nocturne, a previous video game from the software developer. Several Nocturne characters are weaved into the game’s fictionalized take on the Rustin Parr story.
Blair Witch: Dark Testaments (2000)
Image Comics published a single Blair Witch comic, Dark Testaments. It tells of Burkitsville’s Davis Crane who, after having grown up in Burkittsville with Rustin Parr and his twin brother, Dale, attempted decades later to murder a pair of newborn twins, claiming he was guided by a supernatural hand he could not control.
Dark Testaments boasts interior artwork by The Walking Dead‘s Charlie Adlard.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
Following the release of The Blair Witch Project in 1999, Jeff Patterson was arrested for his alleged participation in a series of gruesome murders that some suggest was inspired by the film’s pop culture success. It’s another theory entirely, however, that fuels Artisan Entertainment’s Book of Shadows. Rushed into production, the narrative film was released to theaters just one year after the events it depicts, suggesting that something supernatural may be responsible for the 1999 Black Hills cult killings.
Naturally, the adaptation offended many of those affected by the original events and an attempt was made to halt Book of Shadows‘ production. It was ultimately released to theaters in October 2000, but failed to find much of an audience at the box office.
Book of Shadows was directed by Joe Berlinger, who had previously explored horrific true crime with the documentary trilogy Paradise Lost, each entry of which strips away levels of fiction at play in the decades long conviction and ultimate exoneration of the West Memphis Three.
Although telling a fictionalized narrative, look for Burkittsville’s Sheriff Ronald Cravens as himself.
Blair Witch: Book of Shadows (2000)
As he did with the Blair Witch Dossier, author D.A. Stern here compiles evidence related to the 1999 Black Hills murders and looks into the lives of everyone that participated in Jeff Patterson’s infamous Blair Witch Hunt tour.
The new book also reprints the 1939 Tales of the Uncanny pulp novella, “The Book of Shadows,” which features one of the first instances of the Blair Witch appearing in a pop culture story. By an eerie coincidence, the artist that provided the painted cover to Tales of the Uncanny Vol. 3 #6 was Jeff Patterson’s father, C.D. Patterson.
Shadow of the Blair Witch (2000)
Aired on the Sci-Fi Channel in conjunction with the release of Book of Shadows, Shadow of the Blair Witch takes a bit more objective look at the 1999 Black Hills murders. Running 45 minutes, it examines the troubled life of the real Jeff Patterson and his obsession with The Blair Witch Project.
Shadow of the Blair Witch follows Patterson’s defense team as the case prepares for trial and as the public reacts to plans to fictionalize the case’s events for the big screen. Protests of Book of Shadows are discussed coming from both the families of those involved with the case and from the Wiccan community as a whole.
The documentary also features an interview with a Burkittsville local who suggests that there have been quieted homicides happening in Burkittsville for years.
Also directed by Ben Rock, Shadow of the Blair Witch is available to view in the player below:
Blair Witch: The Secret Confessions of Rustin Parr (2000)
Was Rustin Parr really responsible for the murder of seven children in 1941 or was he himself victim of a greater evil? Because of his involvement with previous publications, D.A. Stern was contacted by Dominick Cazale, the Burkittsville priest who listened to Rustin Parr’s full confession back in 1941. Accompanied by his own personal photographs, Cazale’s journal entries paint a portrait of a very different Rustin Parr than most have come to expect.
The Blair Witch Files (2000 – 2001)
Using the name Cade Merill, someone alleging to be Heather Donahue’s cousin began a website called The Blair Witch Files in an effort to gather whatever information he could find on his cousin’s disappearance. Although Merill himself is often dubious of the kind of the stories the now defunct website would attract, the young investigator took a few of his “cases” and turned them into young adult novels.
Advertised in the back of the books is a contest to win a role in Blair Witch 3, which ultimately never saw production.
Blair Witch: Graveyard Shift (2000)
D.A. Stern returned to the Blair Witch for Graveyard Shift, a fictionalized telling of Detective Randy Crawford’s 1995 pursuit of serial killer John Lee Fellowes across Maryland’s Black Hills.
Graveyard Shift was only ever published as an e-book, but it is currently available for sale on Amazon.
Todd McFarlane’s Blair Witch Action Figure
Wanna see what the Blair Witch might look like? The Blair Witch herself was visualized in two different forms for the fourth series of Todd McFarlane‘s Movie Maniacs. The action figure was released with both “Dread Witch” and “Tree Witch” heads.
Naturally, it’s impossible for anyone to say if the “real” Blair Witch looks anything like either of these designs.
Blair Witch (2016)
In May 2014, filmmaker Lisa Arlington and her team went missing alongside the subject of the documentary, James Donahue. Donahue was the younger brother of The Blair Witch Project‘s Heather Donahue and Arlington’s film, The Absence of Closure, was to examine James’ loss.