The lost tape of a 1987 local news live broadcast from an alleged haunted house resurfaces after almost 30 years, complete with the commercials.
The tape begins with a WNUF Evening News broadcast on October 31,1987. The location of WNUF is not revealed but the city skyline in the studio resembles Baltimore, Maryland. The anchors are celebrating in costume. Throughout the newscast, they announce that veteran reporter, Frank Stewart will host a live special from the Webber House, the site of a gruesome family murder 20 years earlier. Rumors of a haunting reigned ever since. A team of paranormal investigators will find out what is lurking in the Webber House while Frank provides a live report. The entire movie is a tape of that broadcast.
WNUF Halloween Special is truly unique because the filmmakers went out of their way to give it an authentic look. It is shot on a grainy vintage stock that makes the video appear a little blurry from age and the 4:3 aspect ratio gives it a square look since it is set before the days of the widescreen television. The film has everything you would expect from a local television newscast in 1987. There is ridiculous banter between the anchors, a wacky weather man, a reporter package about a kid’s tragic death with family interviews that border on exploitation and political attack ads. Yes, local news sucked in 1987 just as bad as it does today.
The commercials are not real but the low-budget, over-the-top style will be memorable to anyone who grew up in the 80’s with monster truck and demolition derby ads, anti-drug PSA’s and the local carpet guy offering the best deals in town. Some of them are so realistic, you might consider doing something else while waiting for the show to come back on. That is, if you are old enough to remember commercials for the local arcade and video store.
As for scares, there are not many of them but things pick-up once the characters enter the house.
The acting is impressive. Frank Stewart has obviously been doing this particular job at WNUF too long. He is a little bitter and angry and comes across like a guy who wishes he had done something else with his life. It is hard not to love him for it. The paranormal investigators are perfect weirdos.
I’m taking a break from the usual third-person writing style for a moment because I just can’t help myself with this one. I had a previous career in television news and I started in Baltimore so it made the movie that much more fun for me. I admit there may be a little bias, here. Although I was in high school in 1987, I think if “WNUF” were set in the present-day world of local news, the filmmakers still would have made a solid parody of the industry. I could rant about television news for a few more pages but I will get back to the task at hand.
If nothing else, the WNUF Halloween Special is original and entertaining. The millennial audience may need to look past some of the cheesy commercials and graphics but others will feel it adds to the nostalgic charm. If there really was a WNUF Halloween Special in 1987, it most certainly would have looked like this.
Appropriate gore 8
Production Value 8
Final Cut Score. 43 (86%)