Ah, the year 2000. ‘Twas a simpler time: pre-9/11, pre-dot-com bubble burst, pre-Dancing With the Stars. Back then, Britney Spears’s vagina was still intact, Rosie O’Donnell was still the sexually ambiguous “Queen of Nice” and Blair Witch Project spoofs were still a viable form of artistic expression. Looking at it today, The Bogus Witch Project is dated, insipid and unfunny, but back then, it was…just insipid and unfunny.
I’m not sure how this movie — which gathers five short Blair Witch parodies — came about, but it feels like the result of a contest to win lunch with Pauley Shore or something. As you can expect, the entries are amateurish and uninspired. The only hints that there might be some money or juice behind the scenes are the appearance of Shore in the titular sketch and the relatively well-made (if only slightly less annoying than Robot Chicken) faux commercials that run between the films, featuring comedians like Michael Ian Black and Jerry Minor.
Among their many problems, the spoofs are too Los Angeles-specific, featuring titles like “The Bel Air Witch Project,” “The Griffith Witch Project” and “The Watts Bitch Project.” As you might suspect, the latter finds three white filmmakers going to the mostly black “hood” of Watts to investigate an urban legend about a killer crackhead. Easy gags abound, from attempts by the white kids to “be down” to the stereotyped thugs and pimps to jokes involving 40-ounce malt liquor bottles and crack pipes. The only time I cracked a smiled was when Hillary reassures the guys by reasoning, “Watts is in South Central. If we keep going north, we gotta hit white people some time…or at least Koreans.”
Don’t expect anything even remotely as funny in “The Willie Witch Projects,” though. It follows three black filmmakers in search of the mythical Willie Witch public housing project that’s supposedly built in the mythical woods outside of South Central LA. John is the ambitious leader of the operation, Double D is a money-hungry buffoon and Eugene is a ridiculous gay stereotype. You better believe he’s sassy! The jokes are so obvious, some are even used in other episodes in The Bogus Witch Project (reaffirming its feel as a contest, with no creative flow between segments).
“The Blair Underwood Project,” easily the worst of the ones not starring Pauley Shore, doesn’t actually contain any black characters, but it revolves around three out-of-work actors looking to deliver a script to Blair Underwood. No doubt valuing his career, Underwood doesn’t appear. There isn’t time in these short films to establish any character or story depth, but there is enough time to be funny…and none of them manage to do so. They all follow the basic Blair Witch structure: optimistic searching, getting lost, panicking, hearing noises at night, the close-up “I’m so sorry” speech and the final “standing in a corner” shot. Once through this familiar territory is enough. Five times is just cruel.
Frankly, the most interesting part of the Bogus Witch DVD is that there’s a hidden Easter egg feature: a ’70s O.J. Simpson documentary — entitled, prophetically enough, Juice on the Loose — directed by George Romero! Anyone up for a sequel?