Came across this one online earlier today and am pretty excited at the possibilities. But let me be very clear about this. As of the writing of this article IT IS PURE RUMOR AND SPECULATION that Tarantino maybe doing a horror film in the near future.
I found the article online in the Austrian Independent, and they are reporting that Tarantino will soon be visiting Austria in order to scout out some locations, mainly castles, for an upcoming film about Dracula. Here’s what the article has to say:
Austrian press claimed over the weekend that the Pulp Fiction director will stay for four nights in Vienna to visit castles in the nearby countryside … Kreuzenstein Castle in Lower Austria – one of the locations picked by Season of the Witch director Dominic Sena [the upcoming genre film starring Nicolas Cage] – has been tipped as a possible location for Tarantino’s new project.
There is no author attributed to this article and no sources are given. So as of now I am taking this as an unconfirmed rumor but will be optimistic that Tarantino will be directing a genre film in the near future. And why not; he’s starred in From Dusk to Dawn, he’s buddies with Eli Roth and Robert Rodriguez, and many of his films have some pretty horrific scenes in them.
I’ll be following this story real closely and as soon as I get solid confirmation that Tarantino will be directing a horror flick, I’ll let you know. Until then …
I’m gonna skip to the punchline here: This is an amazingly strong, effective, and original movie. Pontypool will challenge you to understand what exactly is going on and will challenge the way you think about language and the way language affects the physical world. Pontypool is written by author Tony Burgess. The novel’s full name is Pontypool Changes Everything and is part of a trilogy of books Burgess calls “The Bewdley Books.” The first in the trilogy is The Hellmouths of Bewdley (1997), then Pontypool Changes Everything (1998), and then Caesarea (1999), the concluding book. Burgess is not your typical writer. The man has a philosophy behind the ideas in his books; ideas he’s been examining for decades. As he himself writes on the back cover of Caesarea, “[I] began performing ideas in the late seventies and began writing them down in the early eighties. By the nineties [I] began organizing things into books.” In the product description of The Hellmouths of Bewdley, we’re told that “Burgess believes there is a shape that fact and fiction both seek, that narratives occur in defiance of the things they harbor.” This is a truly fascinating idea. Simply put, language and words and speech affect the physical world and the “verbal” seeks a way to shape the world in which it is spoken, regardless of the intention of the “speaker”. Ok ok; sorry for the heady stuff (that’s my Ph.D. in philosophy rearing its ugly head).
It’s a damn good thing Burgess himself wrote the screenplay for the movie Pontypool because there’s no way in hell anyone would have been able to capture the core ideas of the novel. (And please note that the novel and film are two entirely different creatures). I couldn’t imagine what a fucking train wreck of a film this would have been had someone like Eric Heisserer (the force behind the Nightmare on Elm Street remake) wrote the screenplay!!
Pontypool is directed by Bruce McDonald. You may know him from his Hard Core Logo (1996), which is a faux-documentary in which McDonald follows around the the punk band Hard Core Logo on a reunion tour. (Interesting piece of trivia for ya: Hard Core Logo stars Hugh Dillon as lead singer Joe Dick. Dillon was the front man for the real Canadian hard rock band The Headstones). McDonald does an excellent job with this material and shows an amazing amount of restraint. He takes his time developing the characters and creating a very “heavy” atmosphere. If there was ever a film that creates something out of nothing, Pontypool is it (I know this statement doesn’t sound like a good thing, but see the film and you’ll know why this is a huge compliment)!! As strong as the direction is, the real success of Pontypool rests squarely on the shoulders of actor Stephen McHattie who plays radio DJ Grant Mazzy. McHattie puts in another amazing performance and has quickly become, at least in my book, one of the genre’s greatest actors working today.
As the film opens we follow Mazzy driving in to work for the morning shift at the radio station. Its just another cold, dark, miserable morning in the small town of Pontypool, Ontario. Director McDonald takes his time setting up the characters (there’s only three main characters here) as we see Mazzy, his producer (played by Lisa Houle) and the radio technician (Georgina Reilly) going through their daily routine of weather reports, school closings, and boring news items (interesting note; there’s only 18 actors listed in the credits, and 7 of them are only voices calling into the radio station). But then a report comes in over the police scanner that a large mob has assembled outside a local doctor’s office. The reports are vague and unconfirmed but slowly the mob becomes violent and everyone starts attacking and killing each other. This is brilliantly executed here and is so tense because we’re confined to the radio station and DJ booth just like our three main characters are. We learn about and uncover the story just as the actors do. We don’t know anything more about what’s happening. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you watch this unfold. It doesn’t take long before the walls start closing in on that radio station and you’ll feel as claustrophobic as the girls did in The Descent!! What would be a gimmick in another film becomes the backbone of the story and the reason McDonald is able to build so much tension and suspense. He’s totally playing off our fears of the unknown, of mass hysteria, and how the mind needs to make order of the chaos around us. I’m telling ya people; this is a smart fucking movie!!
McDonald does a fantastic job of giving us just enough info to move the story along but also holding back in order to keep the tension high. It seems that a very odd virus has broken out; one that has infected certain words in the English language. Once infected you become very violent and are compelled to spread the virus to others (the virus is spread through the English language itself). Understanding the infected words is what makes the virus replicate. So the (possible) cure? We need to stop understanding the meanings of words. Yes it’s a wild fucking premise, but it’s beautifully executed through excellent performances and great direction.
This is a tight, suspenseful, and intelligent movie that has a low budget-indie feel to it that you quickly forget about because you immediately get sucked into the story. I categorize this one as a “metaphysical” horror flick (I include John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness in this category). This movie makes ya use your brain, but it also doesn’t forget that at the end of the day its a genre flick and is suppose to scare and entertain you. Let’s face it; this is one of the most original zombie flicks you’re ever gonna see. There isn’t a ton of gore, but what there is is extremely effective and juicy. Don’t miss this one people, but whatever ya do just make sure you don’t “understand” it too much.