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WNUF Halloween Special: Guaranteed To Get You In The Halloween Spirit

WNUF Halloween special reviewThere are a handful of horror movies and television episodes that I consider must-watches every Halloween season, from John Carpenter’s Halloween to Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, Trick ‘r Treat to Roseanne‘s many Halloween specials. It just doesn’t feel like Halloween until I revisit festive favorites such as those, and this year I’m happy to add a new holiday horror gem to the annual rotation.

Released in 2013, and directed by Chris Lamartina along with a team of contributors, WNUF Halloween Special centers on a news broadcast that purports to have originally aired on Halloween night in 1987. The faux broadcast is presented in full, commercials and all, and it’s highlighted by a live investigation of the haunted Webber House, where a husband and wife were brutally slaughtered years prior.

From the marketing to the execution, WNUF Halloween Special is a gimmick movie through and through, designed to make you feel like you’re watching a VHS recording of a real Halloween special that aired on a local news channel back in the 1980s. And you’d be hard pressed to find a movie more deeply committed to its conceit, as this one is so authentic that you’ll have no problem buying into the ruse.

In addition to the special itself, which is essentially a found footage movie that feels more genuine than perhaps any other to date, WNUF Halloween Special‘s 80 minutes are filled out with both commercials and a news report that precedes the investigation. The whole film plays out like an appropriately grainy love letter not just to Halloween, but also to the inherent and utterly charming corniness of public access television.

It’s the commercials that really tie the whole thing together, and Lamartina and friends went all out to imbue WNUF Halloween Special with a realness that often makes you forget that what you’re watching isn’t, well, real. The commercials include a horror hotline, TV spots for fake movies, and political attack ads, to name just a few, and the amount of creativity on display in the faux ads is truly impressive.

A good portion of WNUF Halloween Special‘s runtime is spent on the various ads for local businesses, and though their initial charm may eventually wear off for some, those who “get it” are sure to admire just how fully the film embodies its concept. Past a certain point, it’s sometimes hard not to wish Lamartina had focused solely on the investigation, but it’s ultimately his commitment to the gimmick that makes the film so much fun.

Lamartina and the other filmmakers who pitched in to direct the commercials were truly in it to win it with WNUF Halloween Special, and the same can be said for all of the actors tasked with bringing the characters to life. Richard Cutting and Leanna Chamish are pitch-perfectly corny as newscasters Gavin and Deborah, and Paul Fahrenkopf is an absolute riot as reporter Frank Stewart, a truly loveable schmuck.

The cinematic equivalent of the coolest time machine ever, WNUF Halloween Special takes you back to a simpler time, and the film’s poster art is a perfect representation of the experience it delivers. Like the young boy depicted on it, the movie makes you feel like a kid again; dressed up in a plastic costume, munching on candy bars, and watching something spooky on TV. In so many words, it’s Halloween personified.

Countless horror films have come along in recent years and attempted to tickle the nostalgia bones of fans, playing on our collective love of childhood and attempting to recapture some of that magic, though few have accomplished that goal more admirably than WNUF Halloween Special. It’s presented with pure love on every single level, and there’s not a single moment where that love isn’t shining through.

Low-budget indie horror doesn’t get much more fun, creative, or nostalgia-inducing than this one. So pop some popcorn, turn down the lights, slide WNUF Halloween Special into your DVD player, and pretend it’s 1987 all over again. I promise you won’t have any trouble getting into the childlike headspace necessary to ensure that it will instantly become a new favorite Halloween tradition.

Grab your copy of WNUF Halloween Special exclusively through Alternative Cinema.

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If you don't get enough of me here on Halloween Love, you can also find me on Dread Central, iHorror and Shock Till You Drop. Contact me via john@halloweenlove.com.
  • Iain Clevinger

    Good lord, I love the mere idea of this film. I’m so glad this exists.

  • John Cassity Jr.

    I’m not gonna lie, I totally thought it was a real station there for a minute, hehehehe!!O_O

  • Oh man, I don’t know if this just dropped in your inbox one day or whether you came across it by chance, but I’m so happy you found this.

    Just got done watching it and still have pleasure endorphins trickling about.

    I got all cozied up on my couch with my blanket and had myself a good natural high, with a big ol’ grin that would not stop. So fun! The only thing that could have made it better is if the leaves outside were dead, the Halloween lights were hung up, and I had some candy!

    Can’t believe we didn’t know about this special gem for 2 years. I suspect it hasn’t been seen by enough people to even give it a cult status. Thinking maybe we should give away a couple copies and help change that.

  • John Squires

    My goal, this Halloween season, is to spread the good word about this movie to as many people as possible. It simply NEEDS to be seen!

  • Ryan R

    Nice to see this movie starting to get some love. I’ve been trying my best to pump it up since it came out. It was only originally released in the Baltimore area (where I’m from). Probably explained why it took so long to get traction. A must for anyone who loves Halloween and grew up in the 80s.

    Agreed that this goes in the rotation. My favorite Halloween treat to watch every year is still Garfield in Disguise.

  • OX_Bigly

    I’m most likely alone in this but, I loved everything about this film except the ending. Just my opinion.