When Britnee & I used to work together in New Orleans East, she once gently pressured me into taking a couple DVDs out of the trunk of her car that even she couldn’t stomach, despite typically having a much stronger fortitude than I do when it comes to total shit cinema. One of those putrid slices of schlock was Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, a movie so amateur that I had a hard time convincing myself that it was an actual, legitimate feature film & not some 80s punks’ super 8 home movies. The other was Da Hip Hop Witch, which I am sad to report is most certainly not a legitimate feature. It is, without question, a home movie (this time filmed on a camcorder instead of a super 8 camera). It just happens to be a home movie that features a long list of famous (and not-so-famous) rappers. Even accounting for the “film”‘s straight-to-DVD cheapness, it’s difficult to pull any entertainment value from Da Hip Hop Witch, except maybe from the schadenfreude of watching Eminem embarrass himself.
Because it is the sole moment of genuinely entertaining content in the movie, I’m going to transcribe here the entirety of Da Hip Hop Witch‘s prologue: “In December 1989, in the Newark Projects, there were a series of unsolved attacks and one murder. Residents claimed that it was an angry spirit, who became known as ‘The Black Witch of the Projects’. Ten years later, the attacks began again. This time, occurring in every inner city project on the East Coast and targeting every Rap star in the Hip Hop scene. An aspiring reporter determined to find out the truth and five white kids & a pug from the suburbs were determined to become famous for capturing Da Hip Hop Witch.” I promise that passage is much more fun than a proper plot synopsis would be. The only other chuckle-worthy bit of text in the film is the line, “Yo, check it! This is Salem, Massachusetts. You know, the place the witches are from?” Dear God. That about sums it up for the film’s enjoyable dialogue. For the other 90 minutes of runtime you’re pretty much left to fend for yourself.
If you haven’t yet guessed based on the film’s title, release date, or the phrase “The Black Witch of the Projects” in the prologue, Da Hip Hop Witch is a found footage Blair Witch Project spoof. Just by genre alone, the movie may already sound lazy to the uninitiated, but I swear it gets worse from there. More than half of the film’s runtime consists of staged street interviews in which famous rappers call the titular witch a bunch of names, coming off a lot like foul-mouthed schoolyard bullies. Imagine Eminem, Pras, Mobb Deep, Vanilla Ice, Ja Rule, and (for reasons unknown) graduation dances staple Vitamin C mumbling things like “That fucking bitch,” and “I was like, oh my God, what is up with this fucking bitch?” and you pretty much get the gist of what the film has to offer. To keep up the appearance that it has some sort of narrative structure, there are some non-Hip Hop Witch TV (as the interviews are dubbed in the film) storylines involving some late 90s, dreds-rocking, white hip hop kids & an investigative journalist all attempting to prove that Da Hip Hop Witch is a hoax created to sell records & garner buzz. Unfortunately, Da Hip Hop Witch is very real, and so is this piece of shit movie.
Perhaps the worst aspect of Da Hip Hop Witch is that it wastes a pretty killer title. I like the decades-late idea of a blaxploitation horror comedy like Blackenstein or Blacula (those are real movies, in case you’re wondering) updated for the late 90s/early 00s era. Besides the prologue & a laughably bad, Russ Meyer-esque tour of Salem’s street signs, though, the only value the film brings to the world is in embarrassing Eminem, as mentioned earlier. According to some reports, the blowhard, dickhole rapper’s lawyers attempted, but failed, to have his part removed from the film entirely & also tried to completely block the film’s distribution. A lot of the dialogue in Da Hip Hop Witch ranges from the misogynistic (women are feared & ridiculed because they might be the witch) to the transphobic (there’s a whole lot of “She looks like a man!” bullshit), but Eminem’s street interviews are are particularly cringe-worthy as they go on & on about how the witch tried to finger him. He just endlessly rambles about the witch’s “basketball fingers” and his own precious butthole to a near-obsessive degree and because he was such a hot comoddity at the time of Da Hip Hop Witch‘s release date, they kept every embarrassing second of it. If you dislike Eminem as strongly as I do, Da Hip Hop Witch provides a deeply satisfying feeling of knowing that he hated his contribution as much as he did, but the movie was released anyway.
The only stipulation is that the movie is so horrifically unwatchable that most people will never be able to participate in Eminem’s public shaming. Vanilla Ice also gets his fare share of embarrassments here, as Da Hip Hop Witch was filmed during his nu metal phase, but that detail is honestly more sad than it is satisfying. Every other rapper (and there are dozens involved that I haven’t bothered to list here) get by more or less unscathed. Ultimately, who cares who’s involved, since Da Hip Hop Witch isn’t a real feature film anyway? It’s a DVD version of a home movie that never should have left the confines of Britnee’s trunk. Well, Eminem cares. When the film was set to be re-released in 2003 (what? how? why?) the rapper managed to have its cover art that prominently featured his likeness scrapped before it reached the shelves, reportedly under undisclosed, Shady circumstances. As terrible as Da Hip Hop Wtich is on the whole, Eminem’s reluctant involvement still shines as a beacon of delectable embarrassment from within. I wouldn’t say that the full experience was worth it for that aspect, but it honestly didn’t hurt.