This week’s episode is a two-fer as we discuss a pair of radio-themed horror features! First, the Canadian-made zombie thriller, Pontypool, and then the award-winning short feature, AM1200.
What if a zombie epidemic spread across the world not by a virus or other biological source, but by something as simple as common speech? Pontypool examines this idea as the story centers around the staff of a small Canadian news radio station who are confronted with their town mysteriously gone haywire. What starts out as a normal, boring news day turns into chaos and terror following reports of certain sectors of Pontypool’s population acting very strangely. One-time shock jock Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie, in a career-defining role) tries to inject some much needed energy into his broadcast in the humdrum town of Pontypool, but soon must contend with the confusion of what’s happened to the town.
The film is written by Tony Burgess, who based it on his novel titled Pontypool Changes Everything. It is a chilling, reflective tale that expertly puts the viewer right there in the story along with the characters.
After a poorly-thought out business decision, the protagonist of this story successfully flees the authorities, only to stumble upon something much more nefarious. While on the lam – and trying to stay awake – he tunes through the static on his radio dial to find a distress signal coming from radio station KBAL AM1200. Begrudgingly, he drives toward the radio station via a secluded forest road, and immediately regrets his decision as his car mysteriously breaks down. He goes inside to use the telephone, and then the story really comes into being.
This film was featured at the 2008 H.P. Lovecraft Festival, where it won the Brown Jenkin Award. You may ask, “What do radio stations have to do with the bizarre world of Lovecraft?” You should watch and find out – really.