The Blair Witch Project is a “found footage” docudrama about 3 student filmmakers who investigate the Legend of the Blair Witch. The urban legend tells of the 1940’s deaths of numerous children in Blair (present day Burkittsville), Maryland. In true Stephen King fashion, the small town values are a facade over Burkittsville’s sinister secret; a secret of an “old hermit” who lives in a cabin in the woods who is somehow tied to “an old woman whose feet never touched the ground” (a.k.a. the Blair Witch). The Blair Witch Project is about 2 intertwining legends, and therefore may be depicted as “The Sandman meets Home Alone.”


Like all urban legends, the Legend of the Blair Witch reinforces a taboo so that a culture can maintain social order. The legend likely reinforces the prosocial value of “early to bed, early to rise.” As an interview with a “townie” in the beginning of the film discloses; if you try to stay up late, the Blair Witch will get you. There are parallels with this legend and similar prosocial warnings of the Sandman (sleep with one eye open, holding your pillow tight) and Santa Clause. While the latter promises gifts if you go to bed early (positive reinforcement), the Sandman sanctions (positive) punishment to little boys and girls who get up once they’re tucked in.

On their second day, the hikers locate an old cemetery with seven small cairns. The rock formations are metaphors for their having found the “old hermit.” Translations of the term
include “stone man” (German steinmann), “imitation of a person” (Inuit inuksuk), and “small man” (Italian ometto).

Their discovery is that of the “small man,” Mr. Parr, an old hermit and outcast likely afflicted with Schizoid Personality Disorder. Characterized by social inhibition, the detachment from meaningful relationships usually leads to the afflicted being deemed a loner. It’s often human nature to impart meaning to people who don’t otherwise share who they are. Individuals with Schizoid Personality Disorder then may become the focus of town folklore such as a man who moves into the Black Hills to avoid human contact (also, Kid Lester in The Best of Times; Old Man Marley in Home Alone; and the Witch in Big Fish).

Last week’s movie: I Can See You (2008)
Next week’s movie: The Exorcist (1973)

I CAN SEE YOU (2008)


Somehow the United States of Horror Films map earmarked Carnival of the Dead for this week’s
destination movie. Unfortunately, efforts at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to find the film were unsuccessful. Alternatively, we arbitrarily chose I Can See You as the film to represent the First State. The 2008 horror film depicts a camping trip of Ben Richards, Doug Quaid, John Kimble, and Sonia Roja; advertising workers who are seeking inspiration for an ad campaign. When a camper mysteriously disappears, reality testing breaks down, and everyone’s safety is put in imminent jeopardy.


On the way to the campsite, Kimble receives a phone call from Ivan, who invites the group to a barbecue. When they arrive, Richards sees Summer Day, a former crush, who Richards refers to as a hippie. As the two rekindle their relationship, the pictures Richards takes of the wilderness come out distorted and parallel his difficulty focusing his vision (accommodation). When he goes swimming in a stream with Summer, Richards removes his glasses, and has as much difficulty with his speech as with his sight. Summer leaves, but with his vision blurred, Richards doesn’t see where she goes. Having been the last one to talk with Summer, Quaid is sought by Richards and Kimble when they uncover his camera (and see pictures he took of Summer). They find him disoriented, and after Quaid runs off, Richards discovers his body at the bottom of a cliff. Richards then hallucinates when he see Hauser who tells him to take a second look at the cliff without his glasses (Richards then throws his glasses over the edge).

Summer’s background, the pervasive theme of having difficulty with accommodation, jumping from a cliff (believing he can fly?), and hallucinations all point to LSD intoxication as the source of the campers’ horror. Additionally, the plot may also incorporate Dimethoxybromoamphetamine (DOB) as an adulterant. Also known as brolamfetamine and bromo-DMA, DOB is a substituted amphetamine that has a different dose response curve than LSD. Specifically, DOB takes up to 6 hours to take full effect. Consequently, unsuspecting users, such as the campers, who believe they are taking LSD may re-dose after 3 hours (and accidentally overdose). Additionally, the amount of time it takes for the DOB effects to begin increases when used in conjunction with alcohol, which the campers drink throughout the movie.

Last week’s movie: Friday the 13th (1980)
Next week’s movie: The Blair Witch Project (1999)



Filmed in Blairstown, NJ, Friday the 13th is a 1980 slasher film written by Victor Miller. New Jersey stands second to no one when it comes to the weird and sinister. Many movies (The Toxic Avenger) and media (War of the Worlds radio broadcast) have either been set in or inspired by (Jaws, Halloween) events that have occurred in the Great Garden State (yes, even The Amityville Horror was partially filmed in Toms River, NJ!).

Friday the 13th depicts a group of teenagers who are murdered one-by-one while attempting to reopen an abandoned campsite. The movie begins in the summer of 1957 with two camp counselors being murdered by an unseen assailant after they sneak away to a cabin to “party.” The film then jumps to present day, and chronicles the ill-fated attempt of Steve Christy and a group of counselors to reopen Camp Crystal Lake. Friday the 13th introduces the uI?ber-slasher, Jason Voorhees, an imposing giant donning a goalie mask and wielding a machete.


The Substance Related and Addictive Disorders chapter in the DSM-5 includes the category of Substance-Induced Disorders. Substance-Induced Disorders may include substance intoxication, substance withdrawal, substance-induced mental disorders (e.g. Alcohol-Induced Mood Disorder) and other syndromes caused by the ingestion of a substance (e.g. fetal alcohol syndrome, overdose, etc.).

Friday the 13th serves to teach points of the Substance-Induced Disorders and Syndromes such as the introduction of the fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) through plot summary. For example, the motive behind the mass murders at Camp Crystal Lake correlates with a case of FAS. [Spoiler Alert] When Mrs. Voorhees reveals herself as the killer, we learn that her rampage is the result of severe mental illness endured from the loss of her son, Jason, who drowned because camp counselors were drinking and having sex. Just as FAS results from the teratogenic effects of alcohol (in utero), the fate of a young Jason Voorhees results directly from the influence of alcohol on camp counselors who were partying instead of supervising the 11-year-old boy swimming in Crystal Lake.

Last week’s movie: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Next week’s movie: I Can See You (2008)



Night of the Living Dead is an independent film directed by George A. Romero that follows a wayward protagonist, Ben, and 6 others who are trapped in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse. Their shelter is attacked by “living dead” ghouls, making Night the landmark zombie film of its generation. Among Night’s many contributions are that the zombies a) resemble “regular people,” b) possess memory and rudimentary intelligence, c) could be de-animated only by destroying the brain, and d) are cannibals.


Night of the Living Dead is renowned for relegating the zombie horde to a backdrop of the human condition, thus allowing the viewer to focus on human motivation during a time of crisis. In his 1943 manuscript, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Maslow posited a hierarchy of human needs based on two groupings: deficiency needs and growth needs. Night of the Living Dead serves to review Maslow’s deficiency needs; specifically, those of physiological, safety, belongingness, and esteem. Within the deficiency needs, each lower need must be met before moving to the next higher level. This principle is tested with the introduction of Mr. Harry Cooper and Tom, as the group dynamic displaces the zombie as the primary threat. Harry represents the need for safety/shelter, as he is adamant that the cellar is the most secure area of the home. His point of view is opposed by Ben who counters that the upstairs is the most important area to protect because of its resources (including the physiological need for food). Their conflict of prioritizing their deficiency replaces the zombies as the primary threat. Ben’s assertion is loyal to the Maslowian pyramid, as Harry puts safety needs ahead of the biological. Their conflict reaches a pinnacle when Harry grabs Ben’s rifle and threatens to shoot him. Ben wrestles the gun away when it fires, mortally wounding Harry who (ironically) stumbles into the cellar and dies.


Last week’s movie: Wrong Turn (2013)
Next week’s movie: Friday the 13th (1980)