The Shallow End of The Pontypool


Pontypool, a zombie horror movie that didn’t show any zombies, came out in 2009 and was met with almost universal rave reviews. That’s almost. After watching it, I concluded that everyone who liked it was wrong and I was right. But to be objective, I gave it two out of four stars. Heck, I even went back and watched it again to see what it was people were getting and I wasn’t. It still blew, so I stand by my overly generous two-star rating.

Now comes talk of Pontypool: Changes, a sequel,the horror news community abuzz with e-chatter after a poster turned up. My guess is that it’s a fan-made poster (as evidenced by the poor Photoshop handiwork). That, and the title is total Suck City. If and when, I shall dutifully review it for your pleasure, not mine.

Until that fateful day, here’s how the original Pontypool went off the tracks…


On a torrential snowy night, Grant Mazzy, a grizzled shock jock talk deejay, is grumbling his way into work, handling the graveyard shift on a small Ontario radio station. While he’d rather rant about government conspiracies, he has to read off school closures and equally important public service messages due to the fact his big fat mouth got him fired from a bigger station. Back to the minor leagues, bitch.

It isn’t long before reports of social discord (i.e., people ripping each other apart) are coming in from the “Sunshine Copter” (the station’s field reporter in his Dodge Dart™). Explosions are occurring, bodies are piling up, the citizens are going zombie ass crazy – and no one knows why. We never get to see this as Ken, the reporter, keeps calling in with breathless accounts of destruction and horror. Unable to confirm the story from anyone else, the station has no choice but to stay on the air and lock the doors.


A doctor, whose office was demolished, managed to escape and makes it to the radio station. And here is where Pontypool (named after the small town they’re in) slips on the ice. The doctor theorizes that it isn’t a tangible virus that’s turning people into hate zombies, it’s the mindless talk coming out of radios that’s doing it. (Interesting metaphor on today’s radio pundits spouting all their right-wing crap and inciting people to upheave all over themselves.)

This puts the station in a quandary – how do you warn people about what’s going on, if it’s their words that are infecting everyone? The radio station’s cute young producer supplies the movie’s only graphically bloody moment when she gets infected and starts repeating phrases and repeatedly bashing a studio glass window with her face. (A little Windex™ should clean that right up.) Oh, and she vomits up a bunch of gunk, too. Probably her stomach lining. I think I saw part of a Snickers Bar™ in there, too. Ick.


Mazzy and the doctor figure out that only the English language is gooning out the public. So they switch words around to convolute their meaning. (Yep, sounds like U.S. talk radio to me, too.) And still you see no zombies. The military is overhead, ready to go scorched earth on the lunatics, counting down to “le bomb” in French (in keeping with nonsensical word play).

The ending shows no explosion or bodies or loose heads or any more blood/candy bar vomiting. Shame – the face-bashing build-up was pretty good until the explanation. Then it all just seemed like word barf.

2 Responses to “The Shallow End of The Pontypool”

  1. I’ll back you up, as I wasn’t a fan, either. The film fell apart with the doc’s info-dumping.

    And that final scene was just jarring and out of place. You know, the “heavenly” one.

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