While I appreciate the quality and convenience of streaming media and Blu-Ray, none of the more recent formats have ever taken the place that VHS holds in my heart. It has an element of personal discovery, that I associate with spending summers in middle school combing through my video store time after time, trying to find some weird cult movie to peak my interest. Uncovering questionable used videos at the Salvation Army, that were labelled Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Beavis and Butthead, but not being sure what I would actually find when I put them in my VCR.
I got to revisit all these feelings when I saw WNUF Halloween Special, a new found-footage horror movie that is being released exclusively on VHS. The film is presented as a long lost television special from 1987 and everything, from the packaging to the stylized 80's commercials, is completely on point. It begins with an intro for the fictional WNUF Daily News Broadcast, and follows reporter Frank Stewart as he goes on a special live voyage into local haunted house, where two notorious murders took place 26 years prior. He's accompanied by a priest and two paranormal experts, all on a mission to perform the first on air seance. Since the entire premise of the special is that was buried and long lost, you can assume the visit wasn't too successful.
The film is scary while also being enjoyable, balancing the creepiness of the house with the hilarity of the commercials. Every time the film resumes after an ad break, the tensions are even more elevated, giving the impression that what we missed was even scarier than what we are getting to see. It highlights the conflicting sense of involved separation you feel while watching a real news broadcast. And while the film excels at being intensely scary, the nostalgic details and over the top commercials are the real treat.
You can tell that the director, Chris Lamartina, had a lot of fun playing with the concept, and his clever details take the experience of watching the film to the next level. When you order WNUF Halloween Special it comes as a blank VHS with a handwritten label, and at the end of the film there are no credits. Lamartina never breaks a concept for a second, and you have to admire the showmanship. It's one of the most fun and original horror movies I've seen in a long time. I loved that it brought me back to a time of an older format that progress has forgotten, and that it celebrates while being more than a nostalgia trip. While it can do all of that, it also finds a way to scare the crap out of you.
The WNUF Halloween Special is available at http://www.alternativecinema.com/index.php?pg=il&search=wnuf&submit.x=-2...
You can see more of Jim's reviews at: http://www.youtube.com/user/jimgisriel