Pontypool after the break…


There’s an old saying that goes something like “Nothing is original anymore, you just haven’t heard it like this before.” Before Star Wars, there was Flash Gordon & shortly before Flash Gordon was Buck Rogers. Before Harry Potter there was Dungeons & Dragons but before even that there was The Lord of the Rings & before even that there was Beowulf.

In short, no matter how obscure or “original” your idea may be, someone has thought up something just like it earlier that’s close enough to burst your temporary bubble of happiness over the fact that you thought up of something that no one else has. It’s sort of like an idea’s equivalent of a “family tree.”

The movies “Pontypool” (Aside: Change the name. It sounds like “Panty pool” & quite frankly, that’s like naming a horror movie “Fluffy Kitten Pony Rainbow”) & it’s American-equivalent “Dead Air” seem like fairly novel ideas – A sleepy, small town radio station suddenly finds itself at ground zero when a zombie menace appears out of nowhere. Can the radio station keep reporting the news without being overrun by a zombie menace?

I write about this type of plot because, sadly, I had this very same idea back when I was in college. It just goes to show that, no matter how hard I think, someone has either thought of it before or will happen upon it given enough time. I knew I should have developed that script!

However, both movies are simply an interbreeding of the radio drama “The War of the Worlds” & your run-of-the-mill zombie movie (slow zombies, fast zombies… pick one). They are also obscure little films that either a selectfew will see in an actual theater or the rest of us will one day see on the SyFy channel or in the DVD bargain bin… Which is unfortunate because Hollywood needs more diversity other then “Action Movie,” “Chick Flick,” “Gross Teen Comedy,” “Oscar Contender Drama” & “Horror Movie that Appeals to Teenagers.”

“Pontypool” is both a movie & a radio drama, which I found appealing until I actually tried to listen to the radio drama. In short, I was a bit disappointed because there was too much “Fourth Wall” dialog in the radio version. What makes “audio mockumentaries” such as “The War of the Worlds” & “The Peoria Plague” so effective is that they never break character for a moment – You are there, listening to an actual broadcast as anyone else would. “Pontypool,” the audio drama, tries to have it both ways – Be a typical audio drama but also have the effective punch of a mockumentary – And fails at both because it can’t let go of either one.

About the only thing I could recommend to the people who made “Pontypool” the audio drama is to somehow re-cut it & broadcast it as a raw feed of a radio broadcast recovered from a radio station. You would get the on-air dialog plus you would have a plausible explanation for all of the extra chatter that goes on when the microphone isn’t “on the air.” Probably a moot point but at least that take on the material would bring it in line with something like an audio version of “The Last Broadcast” (What “The Blair Witch Project” ripped off).

So, in conclusion, I definitely appreciate the concept of both “Dead Air” & “Pontypool” but I found the audio drama a bit too safe for my tastes. Want an effective zombie broadcast? Try “The Peoria Plague.”  Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch both movies someday somewhere so that I can review them on their own merits. Until then…


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