God bless PONTYPOOL. I’ve been thinking lately about what a slobbering dope I am for eye candy. I can’t help it, I’m a visual person. Is it shiny? Does it sparkle? I can overlook many a flaw in a film as long as it gives my retinas a hootchie-coochie dance. PONTYPOOL, though handsomely shot in a bare bones way, would be equally effective to a blind man (and was, in actuality, simultaneously produced as a radio show.) It enters your ear like that crazy worm from WRATH OF KHAN and it burrows into your brain like a corkscrew. Audiophiles listen closely, have I got a film for you.
Adapted by TONY BURGESS from his novel, PONTYPOOL CHANGES EVERYTHING and directed by BRUCE McDONALD (HARD CORE LOGO and the now suddenly interesting to me, TRACEY FRAGMENTS), PONTYPOOL is scholar smart, stoner weird and ten times more interesting than most of the porridge you’ve been served this year. A brain diddler from beginning to end, there are moments as soul chilling as a schizoid audio hallucination and some that are as jet black funny as a funeral parlor giggle fit. You may think you’ve seen it all as far as horror films go, but have you heard it all?
Pitch perfect STEPHEN McHATTIE stars as gruff Pontypool, Canada radio personality Grant Mazzy, whose normal broadcast is interrupted by reports of mad herds of people behaving ostensibly as zombies. Slowly it is unfolded that a virus is using language as a host and infecting anyone who hears certain key words, particularly words of endearment. Once infected the individual, out of frustration of not being able to express themselves, eventually comes to the conclusion that the only solution is to chew through the mouth of an uninfected person. Oh, and if a victim is not found, they vomit blood and die. Have you ever heard of anything like this before? Me neither.
Inspired a bit by H.G. WELLS’ famous WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast, a lot of the action here takes place in the audience’s noggin. BE WARNED not all of you are going to dig this approach. If you had a disappointing experience with say, WILLIAM FRIEDKIN’s BUG (which was based on a stage play), you may want to avoid this one. Personally, I was head over heels with this movie’s adoration of semantics. Words are dissected and blown apart, poetry is made into garbage and garbage into poetry, meaning is ripped to shreds and communication is enemy and savior. Some call this a zombie movie but no, that word, like so many others, is wrong.
Thank you PONTYPOOL for gifting me an original horror experience. At times I thought I was watching the silliest, most preposterous joke and at other times I thought you were talking directly to me and that I might get infected myself. Either I’m going crazy or you PONTYPOOL are a genius. I can’t tell you which because I don’t know what either word means anymore.