Thursday, August 29, 2013

InstaRapFlix #38: Da Hip Hop Witch

Yesterday, I set in on an Eminem documentary that turned out to not be all that bad... I was pleasantly surprised to find a film its makers seemed to actually care about. But my expectation for a crappy Eminem movie has left a hole... One that I'm confident will be filled today, by Da Hip Hop Witch (Netflix Rating: 1 star).

This movie is... incomprehensible. It's two things. One, a terrible, terrible Blair Witch Project knock-off/ parody. Secondly, it's one of those hip-hop pseudo-documentaries that's really just comprised off rappers caught off guard giving quick drops to a dude with a camcorder. Both, taken on their own, would make for pretty detestable films. But combined, they're cinematic gibberish. We get random footage where it's not even clear how it's supposed to connect or relate to the other footage we've seen.

The premise, such as it is, is that there's a Blair Woods-like witch that used to haunt Newark. It's come back now ten years later (later then what? who knows) and only kills rappers. Oh, and it now appears in every inner city across the world, a line only explained by a title to card, presumably to justify the cameos from rappers from other cities. So we get random footage of rappers like Ja Rule, Ras Kass Vitamin C, Professor X, Vanilla Ice, the Made Men and Eminem saying things like "oh yeah, I saw the witch. She was scary!" Rock from Heltah Skeltah leans out of his car window to tell us he's on the hunt for the witch, somehow, some way, which never connects to anything else in the film.

At the same time, there's a wacky pack of five schticky characters (the girl with the red hair is named Rave, etc) and a pug named Pug from Salem on the hunt for the witch, like the three teens in the Blair Witch Project. Meanwhile, there's scene after scene of a group of music producers (actors, this time) brainstorming a gimmick they can get rich off of. And then, there's a long, terrible segment about a fake hip-hop news show, which seems to have been filmed in the offices of Rap Pages(!), with some of the worst acting I've ever seen - and believe me, I'm used to ultra-low budget horror flicks from decades past. These office scenes were really the point where my brain started to scream "abort! Abort!" and climb out of my ears.

So yeah, just to reiterate, none of the rappers really interact with the plot or the central film. We just cut to them over and over for some completely unrelated commentary. They do make some attempt to connect them, which only makes things even dumber, by saying that the hip-hop reporter is being locked out of the rappers' offices (for fear that she might be the witch!), so only her cameraman is allowed inside. So that's why nobody from one set of footage ever interacts with the people in the other set - it's all part of the story!

So, somehow the gang from Salem hear that the music producers who need a gimmick are offering ten million dollars for the witch because it's regularly attacking their artist, so they go to New York. Oh, and this film also keeps cutting to some girl looking out her window. I can't figure out who she was supposed to be. There's a montage of the reporter reading different articles from an issue of Rap Pages (which the Salem gang are also shown reading) - nothing makes any sense! Footage repeats, and we see people say the same things at different points in the film like we're not supposed to notice!

The hip-hop show stops being a hip-hop show and even though they've been covering the witch, they now don't know anything about it until an assistant brings them the story. Again, the story we've been watching them cover all along. Anyway, they're not interested until the president of the company, Mr. Krump, sexually harasses some women and announces, "my kids keep talking about this hip-hop stuff! Do we have any stories on hip-hop?" So the assistant is made into a reporter and told to uncover the hoax of the witch, because they think it's all a lie perpetuated by some gangster named Mr. Big Z who "owns the streets" and is taking half of the music producers' deal. And there's also another assistant who gets hired, who's gunning for the first assistant's job, and the Salem kids are trying to blackmail the gangster. Some crack addict goes undercover as an Atlanta rapper to get with the producers, tells them she knows about the Salem kids, but he recognizes her as somebody, and some character named The Street Don dies. And no, I didn't just spoil the ending; it keeps going and I'll leave the rest unsaid. Honestly, I couldn't figure it out what was going on, and I was literally taking notes. Holy fuck, how does a story this empty get so convoluted?

There are some interesting rappers featured in this... artists we almost never get to see, including Diezzle Don and most of The Outsidaz (Pace, Azz Izz, Rah Digga, of course Em). We even get to the Out House studio and all; but it's basically worthless, because they don't get to say anything except these stupid, meaningless and inconsistent anecdotes about a fictitious Black Witch. It being such a frustrating, wasted opportunity is the insult on top of the injury.

This movie has absolutely zero redeeming values. It's never scary, intentionally funny, unwittingly funny or remotely interesting. The acting is awful, the dialogue is all improvised garbage. The rappers are all wasted cameos. The footage is all handheld, low quality camcorder level material that's terribly lit. I'm sure 95% of the people who've seen this film did not watch it all the way through from beginning to end uninterrupted. It's just torture.

And amazingly, this has been released on DVD three times by three different studios in the US alone. A-Pix, Artisan and Artisan/ Lion's Gate in 2000, 2003 and 2004 respectively. They're all available on Amazon for a penny, and they're all drastically over-priced. The A-Pix disc has a banner going across it claiming it's the Full Frame Version, but they're all full-frame. It was shot full-frame. Stay away from this movie, don't help it make any more money. Don't even watch it for free... on a dare. It's really that bad.

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