I wish I could say that I had found out about this movie and tracked down a copy, but I can’t. I’m a stupid fucking loser. Instead, it was my roommate who had brought it to my attention. Not only did he tell me about this weird found footage-esque movie, but he also just went right ahead and purchased one of the limited edition VHS copies of it. The only snag in enjoying this movie was not having a VCR. So, being the cool guy that I am, I went out and bought one! Now I have a VCR, or as the kids call them these days, a “VHS player”. We watched the WNUF Halloween Special, which is only marketed as being a Halloween special taped off of live TV from 1987, and I would have totally believed it. I don’t really like to exaggerate, but I have to say that the WNUF Halloween Special is one of the most effective movies I’ve seen in years when it comes to getting you into the Halloween spirit.
MY EYES. OH GOD, MY EYES!
The tape starts off with a broadcast of a nightly news report on the night of Halloween. The news anchors are dressed in Halloween clothes, they are consulting a police officer for Halloween safety tips, and they cut away to commercials that make you question whether or not they are real or authentic cheesiness from 1987. After about 30 minutes of that, the anchors set up Frank Stewart (Paul Fahrenkopf) for his investigation into a supposedly haunted house. He interviews some of the locals, all pretty confused about being on camera, and the whole thing feels pretty goofy and cheesy. Once Frank brings in a husband and wife paranormal investigation team, the haunted activity starts to heat up. It turns out that maybe there’s some truth to the investigation and Frank finds more than just killer ratings. Ha, get it? Killer ratings? And the implication that bad things happen to him? Nice work, Wolfman.
They had phones back then!? Also, apparently the dude on the far right was also based on Ray Bradbury and kept carrying a cat around.
The WNUF Halloween Special caused me tremendous amounts of anxiety, but probably not in the way you might have expected it to. The story is pretty fun, and it’s more enjoyable to laugh at it with your friends than actually getting scared, but I don’t really think that was the point of it. Even though I wasn’t watching many Halloween specials in 1987, I really think the filmmakers nailed the tone of what they were trying to do. Goofy and nostalgic, just not actually scary. The fact that I got to watch it on VHS really heightened the experience, because the filmmakers intentionally made the quality really shitty in the first place, so to see the shitty quality reflected on something with shitty quality made it look even more like garbage. Nice work, guys. What caused my anxiety actually came from how terribly cheesy the graphics were during all of the news segments and commercials and the way everything was Halloween themed. There were moments where I really felt like I was watching something on TV on the night of Halloween, which is where my anxiety came from. I know that most people go “out” with “friends” to “celebrate” the “holiday”, but most of my Halloweens have been spent either watching Halloween episodes of my favorite sitcoms that air on Halloween night or watching movies at home. The worst part of the whole night is that once you hit midnight, all mention of Halloween completely stops and it’s business as usual. I got anxiety a few weeks ago thinking about how much I was looking forward to Halloween, thinking of anything that’s on TV on Halloween, and how sad I was going to be at 12:01 on November 1st. I’M ALREADY SAD THINKING ABOUT IT. If you can track down a copy of the WNUF Halloween Special, I guarantee it will put you in the Halloween spirit, no matter what time of the year you watch it.
Wolfman Moon Scale