The Last Broadcast


‘…worth reviving as one of the most effective examples of the found footage genre….’

Surfacing just before The Blair Witch Project made the found footage genre a thing, The Last Broadcast is something of a footnote in film history. The commercial success of Blair Witch overshadowed Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler’s pseudo-documentary, but horror fans will still have a fond place for this prototype in their hearts. While a little raw in places, it’s an interesting example of the form, and this comprehensive blu-ray re-release has bountiful extras including a new 30 minute interview with the directors.

The concept; the hosts of a public-access tv show called Fact or Fiction have gone missing, with one body recovered. Film-maker David Leigh (David Beard) decides to investigate, and finds video-footage that shows how the duo followed an anonymous tip off to investigate a mythical creature called the Jersey Devil, which inhabits the New Jersey Pinelands. Leigh goes in pursuit, and tracks down the members of the film-crew that recorded the footage of the Fact and Fiction crew’s demise, only to find some unseen material…

For a home-made movie made on consumer-level equipment, The Last Broadcast is more than watchable; there’s a number of Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity rip-offs which are anything but. Leigh’s quest uncovers enough plot twists and satirical touches to skirt over the potholes in the script, and there’s a firmer punch-line than might be expected. While The Last Broadcast exemplifies the found-footage ethos, it does do in an external way, with different cuts of material suggesting different culprits for the murders, and Leigh himself coming under suspicion. That’s a more intricate and complex idea that the largely single-cam Blair Witch, and that complexity gives The Last Broadcast a unique tone of its own.

You generally don’t look to found footage for great acting or production values, and you won’t find much of either here; the impact of these early entries in the cycle largely came from some of the audience believing that they were seeing a recording of real events, so the gnarly quality is leaned-into. The Last Broadcast drops the ball in the final revelations, which abandon the found-footage discipline, but it’s admirable that they kept the illusion going for so long. Horror went off in more commercial directions after this, but by making a virtue of a home-made aethetic, The Last Broadcast is worth reviving as one of the most effective examples of the found footage genre.

This new 101 Films Black Label version is the first blu-ray release for the film, and includes a fresh chat to the makers, newly commissioned slipcase artwork (above) rfom legendary comics artist Stephen R. Bissette, and a booklet with expert writing on the found footage genre from the minds behind a rigorous feature documentary The Found Footage Phenomenon (2021) which I’ll review elsewhere on this website over the next few days.

Thanks to 101 Films for access. Available on Bluray in the UK from 6th December 2021. Links below.

The Last Broadcast (1998) (Limited Edition)



Leave a Reply
  1. Ah, very nice. I have long defended this little film, which I found to be a bit more than a suspiciously similar movie to “Blair Witch” that came out around the same time. Spot on that it utilizes metamedia musings to carve out a more complex and witty narrative. Perhaps it’s more pretentious than its more famous sister, but it’s a pretention I can appreciate. Thanks for the reminder about this one.

  2. I never understood the draw of the faux-documentary film. I did watch a parody one with one of the Wayan brothers (ghost house or something like that) and while I laughed my head off, it was so crass that I didn’t bother with any of the sequels.

    I guess I just don’t see what appeals to people about pretending a film is about real things when it obviously isn’t. Do they WANT monsters to be real? And if so, what kind of mind wants that to be real?

    • I hear you, and I know A Haunted House 1 and 2, very silly films.

      And yes, it never made sense to me that Cloverfield pretends to be found footage. From the alien monster attack in NYC? It must have been a busy news day when I missed that…

      • Oh that’s right, I forgot about Cloverfield. Bad enough this type of thing is in horror but when it bleeds over into my SF, well, that’s not cool. After that movie I never watched anything associated with the Cloverfield name (I think. It’s so loose that I might have accidentally and not realized it)

        • The doc I’ll review looks at how Dracula and other classic texts set up the idea that you are viewing artefact from a real life case, but that approach only works for certain subjects. Giant monsters totalling cities wasn’t one of them, for me at least…

            • Yup, that’s one of the things that put me off many found footage films; they can be a trial to watch. And a number of them are very nasty.

  3. So this isn’t a thorough found-footage movie but one where found-footage is used in it as a way of telling the story. Have to admit I hadn’t heard of it. Sounds like it’s worth a look though.

    • Yup, I have to say I prefer this to Blair Witch, because there’s more about the film-making process, and how media can be manipulated. It’s a cut above many of the films that followed…

        • I saw in in the aftermath of Blair Witch, which caused it to be more widely seen, although I think this one was made first. It didn’t have the ingenious marketing campaign of BW; the doc I’ll be reviewing goes into more detail about found footage, but Last Broadcast has always been a cult item….

One Ping

  1. Pingback:

Leave a Reply