BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
Audiences across America have been scared senseless by THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT — and you're next. Over the page, The List talks to the directors of the hit film, but first we sift into Scotland's horror myths and witch legends. Words: Hannah McGill
A TOWN CALLED BLAIR. A GIRL CALLED HEATHER. There's a Celtic tinge to the spinechiller of the year already: but if those three students had launched their ill- fated investigation in Scotland instead of Maryland. what gory secrets might have piqued their interest‘.’
Iiveryone knows that Scotland is clogged with ghosts. This is the eerie legacy of an ongoing obsession with the devil and the black arts. born from age—old traditions of rit- ual and magic -— a craze that Shakespeare might have been aware of when he was writing Macbeth. and that certainly attracted arch Satanist Aleister Crowley to the banks of Loch Ness. Check the index of Sir James Frazer‘s seminal 1922 study of global myth. The (in/den Bang/i. for a thumbnail sketch of Scotland the Grave:
‘SCU'I'IAND. magical images in; wile/res raise wind in: iron as a safeguard againstfairies in; wire/I burnt in: harvest customs in; n'iteliera/i in; wars/zip a/‘Graimus in; Beltane .Iires in; Midsmnmerﬁres in: Hal/awe 'enﬁi‘es in. '
So shall we backtrack a bit to those witches'.’ Macbeth. remember. was Thane of Giamis; and Glamis Castle is still home to a couple of weird sisters. The mysterious Grey Lady hangs about the chapel. while the White Lady is said to be the spirit of Janet Douglas. condemned for witchcraft and burned at the stake by James V.
And get camcorders at the ready for The Blaiigan'rie Wiielz I’m/en: Lady Jean Drummond‘s gravestone near Newton Castle is said to turn around three times each Halloween. and her singing to waft from the castle tower. In the 14th Century. Lady Jean asked a witch to help her win a local laird. She was told to gather rowan branches and wait by the Corbie Stone. where. after a time. she began to hear laughter and felt pulling at her clothes. She slept. then awoke to find herself dressed in ‘the witchin‘ claith 0‘ green‘. She married her laird still wearing it. but died immediately after the ceremony.
It‘s not just the creepy rural regions that play host to witches. though. The West Bow of Edinburgh is the haunt of one .Vlajor Thomas Weir. who was considered a worthy citizen of the 17th Century capital until he addressed a reli- gious gathering with a lurid confession of incest. witchcraft and Satanism. He was strangled and then burned. while his sister and lover Grizel was hanged. Laughter. mysterious lights and the sound of Grizel‘s spinning wheel continued to haunt their house.
So if the ‘scariest film ever made’ is starting to seem more like a movie-brat hypefest. just remember that the real thing is right on your doorstep -- no internet mytho- mania or overpriced merchandise necessary.
10 THE LIST 2] Oct—4 Nov 1999