Monday, October 14, 2013

22 Days Until Halloween - Ghostwatch

Okay, so today's pick is going to be a tad more remote than the little-seen ones I've already discussed.

If you didn't already know, I'm a geek.  I am.

You doubt me?

How about this?  I own a multi-region Blu-ray player.

What exactly is that? you ask.  Well, a multi-region player allows you to play DVDs and Blu-rays from all over the world.  A geek like me has one because there are some movies and some versions of movies that are only available in other countries.

Case in point -- I'm a huge John Carpenter fan, and until the kind folks at Scream Factory came along, a good number of his films released in the US were just absurd bare bones versions.  No commentary.  No making of features.  Nothing.

But...if you had the German edition of Prince of Darkness, or the UK edition of Starman, you could watch the films with director and cast commentary, and cool behind the scenes stuff.  Hell, you could even watch the UK release of Howard Hawk's version of The Thing From Another World that also has commentary by Carpeneter.  Kind of a master class experience, as Carpenter walks us through the greatness of one of his favorite films.

I have ALL of them.  So cease your debate about my geekness, as incontrovertible proof has now been provided.

One of the DVDs I own is one that I watch every Halloween season.  However, this time it's not a theatrical film, but a television show.  More accurately, it was a television event that was a big deal in the UK.

On October 31, 1992, BBC1 presented a "live psychic investigation", featuring a number of well known BBC television reporters/personalities in the UK.

The program was called Ghostwatch, and the UK was about to experience its very own Wellesian War of the Worlds panic.

The program featured a live, on-air investigation of a reputed haunted house in Northolt, Greater London.  By the time the ninety-minute program had concluded, one or more of the reporters at the site were possibly dead, and the lone man standing in the poltergeist-decimated studio seemed to be possessed by the entity haunting the home.

However, the show was a complete fiction.  The "live" program had been filmed weeks earlier, and of course, no one had been hurt or killed.

But the show set off a panic, and in the days after the program aired, there was one confirmed suicide, and numerous other cases, most of which involved young children, of what could only be described as PTSD.

The BBC the besieged with calls from angry viewers, and the network had to make a formal apology.

Now, as an American unfamiliar with the personalities on the show, the show can seem cheesy and fake -- but I imagine that if those on the show had been, say, the entire news team on the WGN Morning News, faces and personalities that were familiar and associated with genuine television journalism, it would have been quite a different experience.

Believe me, I'm not bashing the show -- I think it's brilliant television.

Sadly, while it was once on Youtube, it's gone for now.  If you're able to see it in any way, check it out.  It's one of hte greatest Halloween pranks of all time.

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