After a few hours of screwing around trying to get wordpress to install locally, I was able to track down the problem to a single function. I need to sleep so I'm not going to get it down to a statement until later.
Basically the problem I encountered was the install showing me an almost blank screen after submitting my title, username and password upon install.
I'm installing locally using xampp (apache) and my database is hosted remotely, and wordpress is able to communicate with it just fine.
What I was able to find was...
-In the wp-admin folder, install.php calls a function called 'wp_install()' after you've submitted the requested credentials with no errors
-wp_install() itself is located in \wp-admin\includes\upgrade.php. It makes a number of function calls, one in particular is populate_roles().
-populate_roles() is located in \wp-admin\includes\schema.php. It calls 8 alike functions each having to do with adding 'capabilties' such as edit or administrator to a user, with the first called function being populate_roles_160().
If I comment out populate_roles_160() the installation succeeds. I don't have the slightest clue as to why this is the case but it's very frustrating. I need a wordpress developer to help with this one.
Leaving out that function breaks the default user's admin privileges (among other things I'm sure) so this isn't a solution, just an observation.