Exciting news. The infamous and long-lost public-access television WNUF Halloween Special footage has recently re-surfaced. In 1987, local television personality Frank Stewart lead a group of paranormal investigators into the supposedly haunted Webber House, trying to prove the existence of the demonic entities within. The show was a microcosm of everything nostalgic, terrifying, corny, and awesome that was Halloween in the 1980s.
Except it didn’t really happen. WNUF Halloween Special is fictional found-footage film that is being released this October. I don’t personally know the makers of this film, but they’re from Baltimore, and I kept seeing mentions of it pop up on my Facebook feed. Since I love found footage movies, the 1980s, and cheesy Halloween stuff—and I know everyone reading this does as well—I messaged the director asking if I could review the film. He obliged, and it may have changed my stupid life.
I’m serious people, you need to see this. It will become a part of your annual Halloween tradition viewing for the rest of your lives. It clocks in around ninety minutes long and operates solely and exactly as a 1987 Halloween special on some random public access channel taped off of television would have looked. It’s complete with re-created commercials, tape distortion, the news anchors fuddling through featherweight human interest stories, and the Webber House investigation.
Skeptics, I admit I went into this movie expecting the worst. I thought it might be too clever, its references too cute and winking. I worried the found footage on VHS gimmick would not sustain a ninety-minute film. Instead I was floored by what a visual and mindful treat this was the entire way through. I didn’t want it to end. It’s well-paced, smart, and subtle.
The re-created commercials are spot-on. I felt as though I had previously seen every single one of them in another life. There was not a single false note. During one of the commercials, the wife randomly announced, “I miss floppy disks.” It felt exactly like watching an old VHS tape of some crappy special you taped long ago, stirring up all of your weird, old nostalgia. It was also laugh-out-loud funny in parts.
I read a review on another blog saying the movie didn’t “work as a film,” but I disagree. It has the loose, gangly plot of a television news special—a sleepy thing you’re watching at 3am and want to fall asleep, but can’t because you want to see what’s going to happen to these dumb reporters in the haunted house. It’s compelling enough at that, but there is also the dual storyline of your own nostalgia, just wondering what you’ll remember next on this tape. And you’ll remember all of it—even though it is completely made up.
Local people — there’s a screening of it this Friday the 18th at the Creative Alliance. Go see it, you’ll dig it.
Everyone else. Order it here. It’s available on VHS and DVD on the 22nd. Trust me.