The Last Broadcast (film)
The Last Broadcast is a 1998 American horror film made by Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler, who wrote, produced, directed and starred in it. Told in documentary format and based on found footage, the fictional film appears to tell the story of a man convicted in 1995 of murdering his team of people one night during an expedition to find the mythic Jersey Devil in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The film is one of the first feature-length films to be shot entirely on consumer-level digital video.
|The Last Broadcast|
$4 million (international)
The film deals with a documentary film-maker named David Leigh, and his investigation of the Fact or Fiction murders. In this case, a pair of cable TV hosts of public-access television were murdered in mysterious circumstances. The body of one was never found. Leigh seeks to discover the truth behind these killings while making his documentary.
Fact or Fiction is a show dealing with unsolved mysteries and the paranormal. Its two hosts are Steven "Johnny" Avkast and Locus Wheeler. (Although it was initially a success, Leigh's later investigations find that the show is failing and is threatened with imminent cancellation.) At this point Avkast comes up with the idea of a live Internet Relay Chat section of the show.
A caller suggests the team search for the Jersey Devil, a mythic figure associated with the Pine Barrens. Avkast and Wheeler recruit Rein Clackin, a sound-man who allegedly can record the paranormal, and Jim Suerd, a psychic. Leigh later says that Suerd is emotionally disturbed. The plan is for the four men to go to the Pine Barrens, where Suerd will lead them to the site of the Jersey Devil. During the hunt, they will broadcast a live show simultaneously via television, Internet, and amateur radio.
They enter the Barrens, but only Suerd emerges alive. The others are brutally murdered, and Avkast's body is never found. Suerd was the only suspect, and was charged with murder of the others. During his murder trial, testimony shows that Avkast could not have survived, given the loss of blood found at the crime scene.
Leigh summarizes the trial. The prosecution has bolstered their case by the work of a video engineer (nicknamed "The Killer Cutter"), who compiles a documentary of the group's trip, using the surviving film footage found at the crime scene. Suerd is found guilty and imprisoned. Some observers doubt his guilt, because his clothes were not bloody. In addition, there is evidence he was engaged in an IRC room at the times of the murders.
Before his conviction can be appealed, Suerd dies in prison of unknown causes. Authorities consider the case closed. Leigh receives a box containing a damaged videotape reel, which he at first assumes is tape from the Fact or Fiction team, although none was believed to exist. He hires data retrieval expert Shelly Monarch to reconstruct the images on the tape. She finds that Wheeler and Clacklin's murders were caught on tape, and Suerd could not have killed them. She finds a blurred image of the real killer. As Leigh videotapes her, Monarch uses an image editor to re-construct the image of the killer's face. She completes this image before Leigh's next visit, and is shocked to discover that the killer is Leigh himself.
The camera 'shifts' to a third-person perspective, whereas all previous footage had been "shot" by Leigh. From this perspective, viewers see Leigh attack Monarch and suffocate her with a piece of plastic sheeting. He loads her body into his car, drives it out to the woods, and dumps it in a clearing. He begins to tape himself narrating the next segment of his documentary.
- David Beard - David Leigh, the filmmaker
- James Seward - James "Jim" L. Suerd, the accused
- Stefan Avalos - Steven "Johnny" Avkast, "Fact or Fiction" host
- Lance Weiler - Locus Wheeler, "Fact or Fiction" host
- Rein Clabbers - Rein Clackin, paranormal sound man
- Michele Pulaski - Michelle "Shelly" Monarch, data retrieval expert
- Tom Brunt - Thomas "Tom" Branski, "Fact or Fiction" video engineer
- Mark Rublee - Clair Deforest, video editor for the prosecution
- A.D. Roso - Detective Anthony Rosi, lead investigator
- Dale Worstall - Dr. Dale Orstall, Jim's child psychologist
- Vann K. Weller - Vann K. Waller, forensic pathologist
- Sam Wells- Sam Woods, film & television director
- Jay MacDonald - Jay McDowell, web designer
- Faith Weiler - Joyce Dryer, Jim's landlady
- Marianne Connor - Mary Brenner, TV reporter
Production and releaseEdit
The Last Broadcast is believed to be the first feature-length video shot and edited entirely on consumer-level digital equipment.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2013)
(The film is sometimes erroneously cited as an influence on The Blair Witch Project, but the concept for that film was developed in 1993 and production began in October 1997, five months before the premiere of The Last Broadcast.)
The Last Broadcast was released theatrically in the United States on October 23, 1998, and grossed $12,097 at the U.S. box office.
The Last Broadcast was released through Ventura Distribution on VHS and DVD. Wavelength Releasing also was a part of the DVD releasing. Heretic Films re-released the DVD in 2006.
- "The Last Broadcast". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- Coleman, Loren; Hallenbeck, Bruce G. (2010). "Jersey Devil". Monsters of New Jersey: Mysterious Creatures in the Garden State. Stackpole Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8117-3596-4. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
- "The Last Broadcast (1998)". The New York Times. New York: NYTC. 2010. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
- Laslett, Alison (January 11, 1997). "The Last Broadcast is A First: The Making of a Digital Feature". Videomaker.com. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
- "The Last Broadcast (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
- "Editorial: 'Blair Witch Project' v. 'Last Broadcast' / Has It Really Come to This?", Indie Wire, August 1998