ICFIFC: The Last Broadcast (1998)

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ICFIFC: The Last Broadcast (1998)

If there is one thing I like talking about to people who grew up outside of New Jersey it would have to be the legend of The Jersey Devil.  The Jersey Devil is a legendary creature or cryptid said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey, United States.  The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many different variations.  The common description is that of a kangaroo-like creature with the head of a goat, leathery bat-like wings, horns, small arms with clawed hands, cloven hooves and a forked tail.  It has been reported to move quickly and often is described as emitting a "blood-curdling scream."

A popular origin of the story is as follows: "It was said that Mother Leeds had 12 children and, after finding she was pregnant for the 13th time, stated that this one would be the Devil.  In 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night.  Gathered around her were her friends.  Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the child's father was the Devil himself.  The child was born normal, but then changed form.  It changed from a normal baby to a creature with hooves, a goat's head, bat wings and a forked tail.  It growled and screamed, then killed the midwife before flying up the chimney.  It circled the villages and headed toward the pines.  In 1740 a clergy exorcised the demon for 100 years and it wasn't seen again until 1890."

"Mother Leeds" has been identified by some as Deborah Leeds, on grounds that Deborah Leeds' husband, Japhet Leeds, named twelve children in the will he wrote in 1736, which is compatible with the legend.  Deborah and Japhet Leeds also lived in the Leeds Point section of what is now Atlantic County, New Jersey, which is commonly the location of the Jersey Devil story.

The Jersey Devil has worked its way into the pop culture of the area, lending its name to New Jersey's team in the National Hockey League, appeared on an early episode of The X-Files and was a minor character in the video game The Wolf Among Us.


The Last Broadcast (1998)

  • Genre: Horror – Mystery
  • Directed:
    • Stefan Avalos 
    • Lance Weiler
  • Produced:
    • Stefan Avalos 
    • Lance Weiler
  • Written:
    • Stefan Avalos 
    • Lance Weiler
  • Starring: David Beard, Jim Seward, Stefan Avalos, Lance Weiler, Rein Clabbers, Michele Pulaski, Tom Brunt, Mark Rublee, A.D. Roso, Dale Worstall, Vann K. Weller, Sam Wells, Jay MacDonald, Faith Weiler, Marianne Connor, Robert Weiler
  • Music:
    • Stefan Avalos 
    • A.D. Roso
  • Cinematography: Lance Weiler
  • Editing: Stefan Avalos
  • Studio: FFM Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Herald Film Company  
    • Kinowelt Home Entertainment  
    • Metrodome Distribution  
    • Wavelength Releasing
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 23 October 1998 (USA)
  • Running Time: 86 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

The film deals with a documentary film-maker named David Leigh, and his investigation of the Fact or Fiction murders, where a pair of public-access television cable TV hosts were murdered in mysterious circumstances.  Leigh sets out to find 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.  Initially a success, we find out through Leigh's investigations that the show is failing and is threatened with imminent 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 sound-man who allegedly can record the paranormal, and Jim Suerd, a psychic; Leigh later claims that Suerd is emotionally disturbed.  The plan is for the four of them to enter the Pine Barrens, where Suerd will lead them to the location 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 horribly murdered.  Avkast's body is never found, though it is made clear during Suerd's murder trial that he could not have survived considering the amount of blood lost at the crime scene.  Leigh then summarizes the trial.  Suerd, 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 imprisoned, though there is doubt over his guilt as his clothes were not drenched in blood and there is evidence he was engaged in an IRC room at the times of the murders.

Before anything can be proven, Suerd dies in prison of unknown causes, 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.  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; her finished product is an image of Leigh.

Leigh attacks and suffocates her to death with a piece of plastic sheeting.  He 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.

The Last Broadcast is believed by some to be the first feature-length video shot and edited entirely on consumer-level digital equipment.  The Last Broadcast received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, earning an approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes of 50%.


Sources:

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