When I’m a Dad and I’m teaching my son or daughter about life, I’m going to introduce them to so many cool things about the all sorts of different movies. Just the other day, I saw something that really struck me as something cool I would like my young one to experience. The Blair Witch Project on VHS.
I instantly picked up the last copy at a nearby department store; it was on sale for $1. I’m walking home, looking at the back cover and reading the synopsis and I’m getting extremely eager. When my fiancee, Sky, and I have our first child and he/she has a great childhood with us and they start growing up more and more and they reach an age where we think that they’re mature enough to watch something of that film caliber, hopefully around Halloween, I’m going to provide the best home viewing experience of this horror masterpiece. When our young one starts to ask us about horror movies that they are allowed to see and if the time is right, I break out this baby. I show them the cover. The silhouetted trees with the famous close up of Heather Donahue’s eyes and runny nose. My son/daughter will look in confusion. They grab the VHS from my hands and ask if these exist anymore. I ask them if they are referring to VHS’s or good horror movies. They say “VHS”, shrugging off the comment but they totally know I was trying to pull their leg. I tell them “no” and inform them that the last VHS created were the few copies made in 2006 for the film “A History of Violence” directed by David Cronenberg. They look on the back and start to read the synopsis, interest has now sparked in their eyes but that confusion has not disappeared just yet. They ask if they can watch it and, again if we think they’re old and mature enough to handle a movie of that caliber, I look at them and utter “you sure can”.
We go down into the room where our TV is located. Wait, room? Let’s make this relatable. I move the TV into the basement for this occasion. Normally, I have a hard time lifting TV’s but in this case, I pick up that television, prop it up on my shoulder and then over my head like it’s a flippin’ canoe or something. The TV is set up. I dig out the VCR I’ve been saving for this occasion from underneath blankets and old Easter decorations. The RGB cables are getting tied up by my feet so my anxious fast-walk has turned into a shuffled jaunt. The VCR is ready to go. He/she looks at me like I have 5 arms and I’m playing Blackjack with 3 of them while I juggle with my extra 2. I pull out a giant reclining easy chair from one of the back corners of the basement. I push it from behind and I set it up precisely 3.5 feet away from the TV set. Everything is just about ready. Before I pop the VHS in, I open the VCR settings by flipping open a plastic panel located on the front of the VCR. I grasp the tracking control and I just start turning the sucker in every which way. Counter clockwise one complete turn, clockwise to about 3 o’clock, and I just repeat these randomized movements until I think the tracking is butchered. This creates those little black and white lines that may run through the movie. Poor quality VHS’s with really bad tracking adds a whole new level of creepiness, in my opinion, because visual elements aren’t as clear and the viewer is now forced to look closer. I tell our son/daughter that the movie is ready and that the chair is all ready for them to sit in. They sit down as I pop in the VHS. I do final, minor adjustments to the tracking just so the film is creepily erratic but still visible. This visual altering is acceptable, however, I have to be careful that the audio remains untouched. Right, the audio. After I hooked up the TV, I hook up large speakers along with a subwoofer. I turn the speakers up a lot but not too much (I don’t want to damage any hearing) and I turn the subwoofer up a bit more than the speakers; I want them to hear every single detail portrayed in every subtle way possible. Once the movie starts to play, I ask if they want anything to eat or drink. I grab them snacks and a drink if they request. I then tell them that I’ll be upstairs if they need anything. That’s right. I am not going to watch the movie with them; it’ll ruin the whole experience. For example, if they look over at me during that scene where the little children are rustling the tent, they will see a giant sh*t-eating grin on my face and my goose-bumps will be seen from space; it’s such a perfect horror scene in a vast sea of other perfect scenes in the movie. They’re first viewing of The Blair Witch Project has to be authentic and intimate to a tee. I’ll look down every so often to see if they’re ok but for this ride, they’re on their own. After the movie, I’ll come downstairs and ask them what they think while those weird ambient noises play over the credits. If all goes well, I will see a reaction capturing so many mixed emotions; scared, sad, confused, and so much more. And underneath all those mixed emotions, hopefully a small dose of love will begin to form for this film. I say just a little bit because as the years go on, the love for the movie will grow and grow and grow to a point where they’re watching it several times a year and not just on Halloween. The Blair Witch experience will have grabbed them and not let go.
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I want to set this all up for our son/daughter because experiences like these stick with you. I remember when I looked through my Dad’s VHS collection and I pulled out the Troma classic “Class of Nuke ‘Em High”. I asked my Dad if I could watch it and he instantly went through this same procedure for my viewing. Not so much to the extent I have written up but a really cool and weird experience nonetheless. I’m sure he would’ve watched it with me but I’m sure he was busy with work on his computer but I almost liked it better this way. It was just me, alone in a room, watching this really surreal movie where messed up stuff happened.
I don’t talk to my Dad anymore. We just grew distant and as the years went by, things got more and more distant. I can’t lie though, there were times like these where something brilliant like this would happen and I’d be so thankful for these moments in life, and when I’m a dad some day to beautiful children that I helped create with my beautiful wife, I’m going to be a brilliant Dad, Sky’s going to be a brilliant Mom, and our children will admire those perfect moments.