Submit Press release  · eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    


Film was tourist horror show for small town

Faye Fiore  Jun 06, 2010

BURKITTSVILLE, Md. - It's been 11 years since the makers of "The Blair Witch Project" set their horror movie in the middle of nowhere and changed the little town of 180 people forever.

To this day, tourists occasionally wander through Burkittsville and ask, "Where's the witch?"

"There isn't one," the townspeople say, fatigued. "It isn't real."

The 1999 movie shot in eight days on a shoestring budget made a mint. It got four stars from Roger Ebert and went down in Hollywood history as a cult classic.

All Burkittsville got out of the deal was a spooky reputation, a convoy of weirdoes offering to exorcise the place and four metal "Welcome to the Historic Village of Burkittsville" signs that rusted in the rain.

The reputation they can't do much about. It's hard to convince people you're not haunted when you've got a cemetery in the middle of town tended by a guy named Happy. The rusty signs, however, are another story.

The citizens of Burkittsville will decide in an election Monday whether to sell the signs - bought for them by Artisan Entertainment, the studio that distributed the independent film - on eBay.

If they vote to keep the signs, it won't be because they love "Blair Witch" lore. It will be because Burkittsville, which looks almost exactly the way it did in the Civil War, never throws anything away. An outhouse used by one resident until the county shut it down 30 years ago is still standing; the mayor wants to turn it into a garden shed.

Town leaders think Burkittsville could make $3,000. That's small compensation for all the trouble caused by a film that grossed $249 million. But it could pay to fix some broken sidewalks.

The fourth sign isn't for sale because it was stolen by souvenir- crazed movie buffs. And that is just the beginning of a tale with this moral: Never let Hollywood make a horror movie in your town.

The independent filmmakers never asked Burkittsville's permission. If anybody noticed the day the "Blair Witch" crew showed up in the fall of 1997, nobody said so. Burkittsville has been operating this way for 200 years: Whenever possible, don't change anything.

So one can imagine the shock when residents started getting e- mail describing the woods outside town as treacherous, even though if you walk long enough you eventually will run into a person or cow.

Film was tourist horror show for small town
Image via

Source: Los Angeles Times

Premium Partners