In any event, the subject of today's article is one of those amazing pictures that remind us (or people my age I guess) of a different time - a film called WNUF Halloween Special. Purporting to be a tape of a live 1987 Halloween broadcast from WNUF television (somewhere in the Baltimore area based on the cast including the always amazing George Stover!) this is one of the most entertaining "found footage" films I've ever seen. I use quotes around the term found footage because the film is supposed to be a video tape of the live broadcast and since the events were broadcast live I don't think "found" footage applies entirely.
This 2013 film with a host of writers and directors (because of the multiple segments and as well as the fake but brilliant commercials) is one of the best examples of a horror comedy I have seen in some time. The commercial breaks are both brilliantly hilarious and telling at the same time. Commercials for video stores and arcades remind us of the sea change that took place in a single generation. The news anchors and the commercials are vivid reminders of the days of the independent television station.
Also in the late 80s was the USA Channel which felt like a nationwide independent TV station with great shows like Commander USA's Groovie Movies! I do so miss the days when Disney didn't own every broadcast network. Odd to think that "Ma" Bell had to be broken up in the 80s and yet we've let a small handful of conglomerates take over virtually every network of the 500 available on your average satellite - easier to spoon feed us our opinions that way I suppose.
The film opens with a news broadcast hosted by anchors Gavin Gordon (Richard Cutting) and Deborah Merritt (Leanna Chamish) in their full Halloween regalia and reminding us to stay tuned for the live broadcast from the ostensibly haunted Webber house, where 20 years prior a young man decapitated his parents. This opening sequence is absolutely brilliant - the different reporter segments on how to stay safe during Halloween and the interview with the leader of H.A.R.V.E.S.T named Angela Harries (Kendra North) - a Christian anti-Halloween group that has as one of its believes that Goblins pray over the candy given to children to steal their souls.
Eventually we get to the live broadcast where reporter Frank Stewart (Paul Fahrenkopf) is outside preparing to enter the house with the assistance of Dr. Louis Berger (Brian St. August) and his wife Claire Berger (Helenmary Ball) as well as their cat, doing a hilarious parody of Ed and Loraine Warren. Also with them is Father Joseph Matheson (Robert Long II) in the event an Exorcism is required.
Once in the house, the film begins to take a much darker tone as a series of frightening events begin to play out on live television. The end of the film is creepy and somber but well done and spot on! My posts are spoiler free so I won't give any details.
I spend huge chunks of my free time tracking down obscure films - only this film is not really that obscure. It has a large fan base and there are a number of reviews online in both blogs and YouTube videos. Somehow I simply let this film fly under my radar. I watched it on Shudder (via Amazon) but I have to imagine it is available on other streaming sites as well - although I really need to track this down on video tape I think to get the full experience.
Miss you Pops