Pontypool Bruce McDonald

Pontypool Bruce McDonald
Bruce McDonald, the closest thing Canada's got to a punk rock auteur, is adamant in stressing that Pontypool is not a zombie movie. In promotional material and the commentary track packaged with this DVD release, McDonald clarifies that the raving, bloodied fiends encroaching on the snow-swept rural community of Pontypool, Ontario are not your typical undead cannibals. Indeed, Pontypool's villains are referred to by McDonald as "conversationalists" or "cousins of zombies," and contract their condition of gibbering madness not from voodoo or extraterrestrial radiation emanating from a fallen satellite but from infected words. Based upon the novel Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess (who also wrote the screenplay), Pontypool channels everything from Barthes to Burroughs and an entry-level semiotics course in its depiction of a small town gripped by a terminal virus that spreads via language. Though an admittedly high concept take on the genre's now somewhat threadbare boilerplate, Pontypool nonetheless plays out as a rather ingenious zombie movie, despite McDonald's claims to the contrary. As the town of Pontypool is besieged by lethal linguistic delirium, AM shock jock Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) must break from his mundane morning show routine to piece together what's going in the world outside his studio. Not since Romero's Night of the Living Dead has a (sort of) zombie flick so masterfully articulated the atmosphere of claustrophobia and boredom so integral to the genre's successful operations. While its attempts to intellectualize both the undead and the signification patterns of language leave something to be desired, Pontypool remains a wonderfully original film, anchored by the charisma and force of McHattie's performance. Apart from a meandering commentary track from McDonald and Burgess, the DVD also comes packaged with the original Pontypool CBC radio show and two spooky shorts by filmmaker Britt Randle, which approximate the aesthetics of Carl Dreyer and Marilyn Manson videos in equal proportions. (Maple)