Now since it is the night before Halloween, it is only expected that I review a strongly Halloween themed hidden horror for you dear horror hungry fiends. This Halloween hidden horror is really more of a “Hidden Treasure” that came out last Halloween. It is what the Found Footage sub-genre SHOULD be, it is Chris Lamartina’s WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL. Now its safe to assume that the found footage subgenre has over stayed its welcome with horror fans. At this point they have become menotanous and annoying with only 1 or 2 Found footage films a year that are actually good (Houses October Built). But sometimes a found footage horror movie can do something new or “Retro” to a point it can take horror fans by surprise. That is the case with Chris Lamartina’s WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL. A found footage horror film that plays itself as a lost local televiosn station Halloween special from 1987!!! filled with bad VHS grain as if it was a third generation video recording and annoying 1980’s local business commercials throughout.
from IMDB: Originally broadcast live on October 31, 1987, the ‘WNUF Halloween Special’ is a stunning expose of terrifying supernatural activity that unfolded at the infamous Webber House, the site of ghastly murders. Local television personality Frank Stewart leads a group of paranormal investigators including Catholic exorcist, Father Joseph Matheson and the prolific husband-and-wife team Louis and Claire Berger. Together, the experts explore the darkest corners of the supposedly haunted Webber House, trying to prove the existence of the demonic entities within. Did they find the horrific truth or simply put superstitious rumors to rest?
Now it is quite wonderful that Chris Lamartina knew that the found footage genre has become annoying so he cleverly decided to put fun but bad 80s commercials throughout the film and that is what adds to the overrall fun viewing experience of the film. The fake commecials throughout feel so realistic and true to local television of the 1980’s that youll be convinced that they were real commercials from back then and combined with the 3rd grade generation VHS grain to it all the film succeeds in making you think for just one second that maybe this really is a lost Halloween special from 1987, making it do what found footage horror films are SUPPOSED TO DO in the first place…make you think that maybe this is real lost footage even for a few minutes, I know it fooled me for a few. But what I loved best about the WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL commercials is that the movie does not in any way romanticize the 1980s at all, the movie and the commercials are very era appropriate and show just how ridiculous, ugly, dull and annoying the 1980’s really were to a point that it is practically painful but in a fun “Look back in time” sort of way.
Now other then the commercials throughout the film the main story itself has been done before but this time it succeeds in actually feeling like a live recorded Halloween special and a BIG love letter/fuck you to the Geraldo Rivera Satanic Panic Halloween special from the 1980s (those who were around in the 80s know what im talking about). It is akin to that real life special with the character of Frank Stewart a snarky dickhead of a reporter so desperate for Ratings the viewers will think that possible he is behind several of the spooky shenanigans that happened throughout the webber house. And like a real life live recorded special whenever tense spooky stuff does start to happen Frank Stewart always tries to cut to a commercial. The movie is also a look back into the ridiculous Satanic Panic of the 1980s and the sensationalism that was taking hold of television news in the country.
Now there is some actual horrifying stuff that happens to our doomed reporter and all who enter the house. Spooky, funny and downright fucked up stuff does happen in the weber house and there is quite a tense moment of desperation and horror for our snarky reporter near the end where your not sure what is going on but you know Frank Stewart is doomed. Not to mention there is one scene were an intern is sent into the webber house that actually caused shivers down my spine. And finally about the ending a little spoiler…it is not Ghosts nor demons that end up causing our doomed reporters fate but instead some monsters that are much more rooted in reality.
Overrall the WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL is a must see this Halloween season for those who want to have a fun and incredibly nostalgic time. Those who want a Halloween movie that can truly feel like looking back into a time that was over the top, annoying and ridiculous as the 1980s really were. You wont regret this Found Footage. – James J. Coker