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THE LAST BROADCAST - 1998
FFM Productions / Wavelength Releasing
Rating: USA: Unrated
Okay, let's get it out of the way. I don't care what you've heard THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is NOT a rip off of THE LAST BROADCAST. Once you've seen both (no one who hasn't seen both is permitted to comment!) I feel certain you'll agree.
Yes, there are similarities. Both involve footage recovered from a doomed expedition into the woods. But in THE LAST BROADCAST the scary video is a small part of the film, rather than the whole story as in THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. And yes, I am aware that originally Blair Witch was going to be in more of a documentary style, like the sci-fi channel special
THE CURSE OF THE BLAIR WITCH. But it's the finished product that matters, and that's what I'm comparing.
THE LAST BROADCAST (written and directed by Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler) is presented as a documentary about an incident involving a cable access TV show called "Fact or Fiction?". The show interviewed local psychics and other similar individuals. To boost sagging ratings the show's two hosts, Steven Avkast (Stefan Avalos) and Locus Wheeler
(Lance Weiler) decide to do a live broadcast from New Jersey's remote Pine Barrens region to investigate a legendary
monster called the Jersey Devil. They hire a young guy named Jim Suerd (Jim Seward) who claims to have psychic abilities
(but who is actually an amateur magician) to lead them to the best campsite in the woods. Sound man Rein Clackin
(Rein Clabbers) completes the group.
The film maker and narrator, David Leigh (David Beard), tells us up front that Suerd is the only survivor of this expedition. The bloody bodies of Wheeler and Clackin are found by police near the camp site. Avkast's body is never found; a large pool of blood and his wool cap are all that's left. Shortly afterward Suerd is charged
with the murders, convicted, and sentenced to life. Life is short for
Suerd, who dies in prison after a few months.
Leigh's documentary centers around the question of Suerd's guilt or innocence.
And if Suerd didn't do it, then who or what did? And what secrets
are contained on a tangled mess of video tape anonymously mailed to the film maker?
The film is interesting and has some creepy moments, but it's not even in
the same ball park as Blair Witch (and that's the last time I'll mention that). There's a confusing
transition at one point between the documentary style that makes up most
of the movie and actual "movie" acting. The surprise ending
is not bad, but a little hokey. I give it three shriek girls.
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came long before either of these movies by about 15 years. It too
involved footage recovered from a doomed expedition. So where is
this rip-off nonsense coming from anyway?