The Story That Inspired The Blair Witch Project

The highly influential 1999 classic, The Blair Witch Project, has humble roots. First conceived in 1993 by University of Central Florida students Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, according to the BBC, the original 35-page outline led to an eight-day shoot, four years later, wherein much of the dialogue was improvised. While Myrick and Sánchez have described many influences for their approach to psychological terror, including horror movies such as The Shining and The Omen, they specifically cite Steven Spielberg's 1975 film Jaws (which, itself, was loosely based on a true story) and Alien as their film's major conceptual influences, since they also sought to design a narrative that hid the witch from the viewer for the film's entirety, according to the A.V. Club.

But what of the legend of the witch herself? Is she based on real mythology? Well, the directors did draw heavily upon tragic real-life events, but the actual incident happened somewhere else.

Legend has it ...

While there are no reports of an actual haunting in Blair Township, a 17th century legend surrounding another Maryland town has a stark resemblance to the film's background mythology. According to Astonishing Legends, a colonial healer named Moll Dyer, in Leonardtown, resided by herself. At the time, the mysterious woman's origins provoked lots of speculation and rumors which, to this day, have continued. After the town was rocked by problems that had nothing to do with Dyer, she was subsequently labeled a witch, which led to a mob of angry townspeople burning down her home. Although she escaped the mob, Dyer was found dead in the woods, upon a boulder, some days later.

The "curse" which ensued has made Dyer a local legend, as following her death, it was said that the men responsible for organizing the mob to Dyer's doorstep all experienced bouts of horrible luck: allegedly, their lands became barren, according to the Bay Net, and it's said that their livestock died, they suffered horrible illnesses, and the curse carried through their families for generations.

As for the famous Blair Witch symbol? The creepy stick figure hanging in a tree was just a random idea Myrick had, according to the Guardian, back when he was growing up in the swamp lands of Florida.