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The BLAIR WITCH Fotonovel
Another stone on the mountain of merchandising
By Dan Cziraky
February 23, 2000
Ever feel the compulsion to carry a movie around in your pocket? Well, you can, without having to hunt for a VCR, DVD player, or CD-ROM drive. The Fotonovel, that bizarre hybrid of the comic book and movie novelization, is back!
In the late '70s, before the days of VCRs, as Super-8 prints of films started to become scarcer than 8-Track tapes, the Fotonovel came into existence. Popular (or, more accurately, hopefully popular) films were often given the novelization treatment. However, some films, while wildly successful, lacked the substance of subject to merit novelizations. These films were eye candy, and how do you novelize something like GREASE without running the risk of becoming a literary pariah? Hence, the bright idea of printing HUNDREDS of images from the actual film, with the dialogue or song lyrics printed within the frame, similar to word balloons in comics. I'm not certain just how many books comprised the original Fotonovel series, but I must admit to still owning copies of LOVE AT FIRST BITE and HAIR. By the early '80s, they fell out of favor. Whether it was the high price of the books or the reluctance of film studios to release so many images from movies still in release, I'm not sure. At any rate, the Fotonovel soon joined Pet Rocks, Mood Rings, and Duran Duran on the crap pile of trendy nonsense.
Today, like many fads of the past, the Fotonovel has been revived. The first new one is taken from 1999's THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, one of the most merchandised films in a year of hyper-merchandised movies (THE MUMMY, STAR WARS: EPISODE I--THE PHANTOM MENACE, WILD WILD WEST, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME, TOY STORY 2, etc.). The book is crammed with over 300 images from the film, and affords the reader closer views of the ominous rock piles, the chilling stick figures, and the clump of bloody hair and teeth. Those of you who still haven't seen enough of the insides of Heather Donahue's nostrils can revel in three pages of snot shots! For those who have worn out the pause buttons on the remote watching this flick, the book is a godsend! So, turn on your lava lamp, settle into your beanbag chair (hopefully made from 'dead' Beanie Babies), and enjoy the beautiful reproductions of the blurry, grainy images that made THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT such a visual treat over and over again.THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT FOTONOVEL, Fotonovel Publications (P.O. Box 691367, Los Angeles, CA 90069), January 2000, 176 pp., $8.95.