Tuesday, November 14, 2006

THE LAST BROADCAST

For several years now, I’ve been hearing how the makers of the no-budget indie hit, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT "ripped off" THE LAST BROADCAST (1998). Well, now Heretic Films has re-released the film as a special edition, and I’ve finally been able to check it out for myself.

According to the film, on December 15th, 1995, a four-man team from a cable access program called "Fact or Fiction" headed out into the New Jersey Pine Barrens to shoot a live broadcast about the legendary Jersey Devil. Only one returned. State police later found the bodies of two of the missing three and the lone survivor was convicted of their murders and sentenced to life in prison. But is he truly guilty?

Presented as a documentary investigation of the case, comprised of interviews with "experts and "found video footage" supposedly shot by the victims, the movie does bear a superficial resemblance to THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, which came out a year later. But the devil’s in the details, as they say, and ultimately the two movies are quite different. While THE LAST BROADCAST starts out promisingly, the premise doesn’t really pay off in any satisfactory manner. The "surprise" ending makes no sense at all, and thus, has little impact.

Heretic’s new special edition is quite nice, though, presenting the movie in its original full-frame format, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The supplemental features include two commentary tracks with co-directors Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler, behind-the-scenes documentaries on the production, post production and distribution of the film, and several video interviews with the makers of THE LAST BROADCAST. Heretic has also included an extensive still gallery and trailers for some of their other releases.

It’s not a bad film, and it does deliver a few chills and surprises, but overall, I didn’t think it quite matched its reputation. You might disagree. I can say, though, that if you’re a fan of the film or just curious, Heretic Films’ DVD is a superior package.

BUY: The Last Broadcast