In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. One year later, their footage was found.
It may have only taken a year for the footage to be found, but it took another two for us to see the witch at all. In Movie Maniacs series 4, Todd McFarlane gave us not one but two interpretations of what the never-seen titular character may have looked like. Referred to by fans as the "Dread Witch" and the "Tree Witch," both versions of the figure come with the same accessories and have the same basic body; the largest difference can be seen in the head.
The Dread Witch is so-named because of the thick, ratty dreadlocks trailing from her skull. The body looks like an emaciated, desiccated corpse, with the skin stretched taut and thin over her jutting bones. Her legs are almost beastial, crooked like a dog's hind leg and featuring seven black-nailed toes on each foot. The hands, while more human, are elongated and have an extra dew claw jutting from the heel. Painted in tones of brown, she's draped in a rotting shroud (molded from soft pvc). Her jaw hangs wide open, revealing its mouthful of sharp bloody fangs and looking like nothing less than a howling skull.
The Tree Witch looks, well, like a tree. The arms and legs are the same (except for the paint), but the basic body has been resculpted, so that it looks less like a corpse and more like the mossy, gnarled bark of some ancient timber. She's still got her tattered rags (in grey, this time), but this figure's head has two horn-like branches twisting up from her head. Where the Dread Witch has brown skin and black nails, the Tree Witch has green with grey; one witch's festering wounds are the other's knotted bark.
When it was announced that there would be two versions of this figure (the Dread Witch was all that had been shown previously), there was quite a backlash from the fans - they didn't like the Tree Witch, saying it wasn't as terrifying as the Dread. When the line was initially released, the Dread Witch was also in shorter supply than the Tree, which made her all the more popular. But really, I believe that if the Tree Witch had been shown first, the fans would have been complaining that the Dread looked too much like yet another zombie - it's just a question of the order they were presented.
However, I didn't buy either of these figures to terrorize college kids as the Blair Witch; I bought them to be Deadites and face the wrath of Ash's boomstick. They both look great flanking Evil Ash.
All that aside, which witch is best? Personally, I like the Tree Witch; it explains how she was able to remain hidden in the woods despite the attention of many cameras and those nosy kids. I agree that the Dread Witch presents a more horrific visage, but that's not always all there is to horror, as The Blair Witch Project proved.
The Blair Witch stands 7" tall, and has eight points of articulation (plus two more on the Tree Witch). She comes with a scythe, a stickman, and a bundle of twigs with bloody bits inside. If you're looking to flesh out your Army of Darkness collection, both Witches are good purchases. Otherwise, the Blair Witch has yet to be seen, so you can get whichever you want; the tree is more creative, the zombie is more classically scary. Or, save yourself some time and buy them both!
Wanna try to convince me that the Dread Witch is by any stretch of the imagination better than the tree? Good luck. Give it a shot on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.