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  • Writer's pictureKelly M. Hudson

Televised Halloween Horror!

In 1987, small-town news station WNUF is celebrating Halloween by putting on a séance as well as a paranormal investigation of a local, reputedly haunted house. Years ago, a family lived there, happy and secure, until their son found a spirit board and came into contact with the ghosts of the dead. They told him to kill his parents and he took an ax and did as he was commanded. The house has remained abandoned ever since, with its legend growing year by year. Frank Steward (Paul Fahrenkopf) is the grizzled reporter on the scene, leading a crew that includes a famous husband and wife paranormal investigative team (along with their trusty cat), a local priest, and the cameraman. They explore the house, sending out the story live on the air, interrupted by numerous commercial breaks. As the night grows darker, the cat disappears, as does the famous husband-wife duo, and soon Frank finds himself locked in the basement with the cameraman as something awful is taking place upstairs. Is it the ghosts haunting this house? Is it the demons that compelled the son to kill his parents years ago? Or is it something far too human, waiting to kill Frank and his cameraman? Will they survive the night, or just become another tragic Halloween story?

WNUF Halloween Special is a very clever found-footage film that unfolds like a VHS tape someone had in their possession and decided to play to see what was on it. There are fake commercials from the time period as well as a newscast and other spooky, packaged stories to go along with the actual broadcast. Some of the humor is perfect and spot-on; some of it tries a little too hard. It really just depends on the actors selling the spoof. The reproduction of the era is flawless and the video quality feel very real. I cannot stress enough how thoroughly genuine this felt (other than a few cracks that appear here and there, as noted before). The story is intriguing and interesting and an excellent satire of people like the Warrens and local broadcast television news. My only complaint is that there are too many of the fake commercials and they break up all the action at the end. I think they were going for authenticity, because a live broadcast probably really would break into commercials like that, but it got a bit annoying. Also, it felt a little like they were trying to stretch the overall running time. This is a minor quibble, however.

This was a fun, funny, and thrilling little movie. The creators did an excellent and loving job recreating the 80s and all the craziness that attended the era. Kudos to the actors, as well, for really making this thing feel like an actual artifact from thirty-something years ago. WNUF Halloween Special is a real treat and an excellent addition to your spooky holiday celebrations. Also streaming on Shudder.


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