Pontypool – Telefilm Grant Inspires a Wave of Terror

by Gordon McDowell

You’re trapped in a church basement in the Canadian town of Pontypool, manning a talk radio station. Calls and radio reports come in claiming the locals have gone a bit… funny. You know, funny… in the head. You and your crew are in a panic, trying to piece together what’s really happening. With limited knowledge of how a wave of violent behavior is spreading through the population, can you figure out its means of distribution before you and your skeleton crew are contaminated and/or eaten alive?

You’re a Canadian director working the indie movie scene. You’ve got a series of screenplay revisions based on “Pontypool Changes Everything”, a 1998 novel by Tony Burgess. You’re assembling a skeleton crew, planning to shoot on zero budget. Then word gets out a couple moneybags are willing to help fund you. Can you figure out how to squeeze enough funding out of the Canadian government to make a big budget horror movie before you start shooting?*


Pontypool cost 1 approximately 1 million Canadian dollars to make. This does not qualify it as a “big budget” movie. Even in Canada.

Also R4NT.com received the following email shortly after this review was posted.

From: “Tony Burgess” <—@—.—>
Date: March 19, 2009 6:45:38 PM MDT (CA)
To: <contact@r4nt.com>
Subject: hey

Hey guys,

Dug the Pontyrant. But just one small note for ya…it was done with zero gov. funding – made entirely with private investors.

later, Tony Burgess. Peace.

It saddens us that our longtime contributor Gordon McDowell would take such journalistic short cuts. We have taken immediate action to reprimand him, including:
– Pay cut by 95%.
– Limited to 3 cameras in future video reviews.
– He must cite at least one source of “facts” per article.

We apologize profusely for allowing this to slip past our fact checkers, lawyers and the guy who clicks the PUBLISH button.

– R4NT.com Editorial Board

exhibit a - crazy person

Bruce McDonald uses a little something Canadian directors like to call “The French“. And not just tossing in a little “ou est le bibliotheque?” but honest to God, critical to the plot, hope you didn’t forget everything you learned in French 30 or by gum you’re about to have your mouth chewed off Le Français.

Fortunately, shock jock Grant Mazzy (Watchmen’s Stephen McHattie) fails to shame the audience with his mastery of French. And an interesting challenge is raised as he and his technical assistant Sydney (Lisa Houle) must avoid reverting back to their native tongue despite their increasingly desperate situation.

PQ will be most pleased.


Since Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” in 2002, the zombie movie genera has seen a constant injection of fresh energy and ideas. Even the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead had some fresh charm (despite shedding much of the social commentary and puzzle solving found in the original).

Pontypool carries the baton still further, offering up yet another innovation on what can constitute a rapidly spreading wave of violence. If you can possibly watch this movie before understanding the nature of Pontypool’s affliction, you’ll enjoy it just an extra bit. It is a fun psychological horror movie which doesn’t dwell on the usual zombie movie graphic violence.

Worth watching in the theater, or on video late at night. Of course, if you wait for it on video, it is guaranteed you won’t escape a spoiler or two.

Also, the chick in The Crying Game is a dude. See?!? It can come from anywhere, at any time. Don’t take any chances.

Pontypool’s spoiler free trailer which fails to convey the atmosphere of the movie itself:

  • Pontypool – Telefilm Grant Inspires a Wave of Terror
  • by Gordon McDowell
  • Published on March 19th, 2009
Bruce McDonald
Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Hrant Alianak, Rick Roberts

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