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SEED OF DIE!
Ripped from original title in 2007...
Includes: Original DVD cover.
Running Time: 86min
History and The Blair Witch Project controversy
The Last Broadcast is a mockumentary made on a low budget. It received a small initial release, but it was only after the success of The Blair Witch Project in 1999 that The Last Broadcast gained much publicity, likely due to some similarities between the two films' plotlines.
Some have speculated that Blair Witch was essentially plagiarized from The Last Broadcast. The makers of The Blair Witch Project admitted to seeing The Last Broadcast before making their film during a 1999 interview with Diane Sawyer. Avalos and Weiler have said in interviews that they only wish their film to be judged on its own merits.
However both films have similarities to 1980's Cannibal Holocaust, but both sets of film makers have said that it was not influential upon their films. It's also worth noting that the basic trope of a document or artifact detailing someone's grim fate is older than motion pictures, dating at least back to Edgar Allan Poe.
Since the release of Blair Witch, The Last Broadcast has lived in its shadow, a fact which seems to stem largely from Blair Witch's advertising campaign and open-ended narrative. However it has picked up a cult following and has become modestly popular in its own right.
Perhaps, most importantly, The Last Broadcast made cinematic history On October 23rd, 1998, as the first feature to be theatrically released digitally via satellite to theaters across the United States. It is considered one of the "heralds" of digital cinema.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The film deals with a documentary film-maker named David Leigh, and his investigation of the Fact or Fiction murders, where a pair of cable access hosts are murdered in mysterious circumstances. Leigh sets out to find the truth behind these killings while making his documentary.
Fact or Fiction was a show dealing with unsolved mysteries and the paranormal, its two hosts were Steven "Johnny" Avkast and Locus Wheeler. Initially successful as a show, we find out through Leigh's investigations that the show was failing, and was near cancellation. It is at this point that Avkast comes up with the idea of a live Internet Relay Chat section of the show.
It is during one such chat that a caller gives Avkast the idea of searching for The Jersey Devil in the Pine Barrens (the film only mentions the Jersey Devil, however, and gives absolutely no background details of the legend). Leaping on this idea, Avkast and Wheeler recruit Rein Clackin, a soundman who can record the paranormal, and Jim Suerd, a psychic who Leigh has discovered to be emotionally disturbed.
The plan is for the four to enter the Pine Barrens with Suerd leading them to the location of The Jersey Devil. During the hunt, they would broadcast a live show simultaneously via television, internet and amateur radio.
The four enter the Barrens but only Suerd emerges alive, the others are killed. Avkast's body is never found, though it is made clear in the following trial that he could not have survived the massive blood loss found at the crime scene.
Leigh then runs through the trial, Suerd as the only survivor is also the only suspect. To aid the prosecution case they employ a video engineer (nicknamed "The Killer Cutter") to compile a portrait of the group's trip using the surviving film footage found at the crime scene.
Suerd is found guilty and is imprisoned, though there is doubt over whether he did it as his clothes were not drenched in blood and there is evidence he was engaged in an irc chat during the times of the murders.
Before anything can be proven, Suerd commits suicide in prison and the case is considered closed by the authorities. However Leigh has a box sent to him containing a damaged videotape reel, which Leigh assumes is tape from the Fact or Fiction team thought not to exist. A data retrieval expert named Shelly Monarch is called in to reconstruct the images on the tape as much as possible. She finds that not only have Wheeler and Clacklin's deaths been caught on tape, but that Suerd could not have committed the murders.
What is also caught is 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; when she finishes, the viewer sees that Leigh himself was the actual murderer.
With this revelation, the film abruptly shifts from the perspective of Leigh's camera to a third person perspective, lingering on Monarch's tormented face as Leigh suffocates her to death with a piece of plastic in a real-time sequence. Afterwards, Leigh loads Monarch's corpse into his car and drives it out to the woods, where he dumps it in a clearing and then begins awkwardly videotaping himself narrating the next segment of his documentary.