McDonald sat in on a panel discussion about the film at Rue Morgue’s Festival of Fear expo over the weekend and provided some insight as to what his film is about.
“It’s set around a small radio station in Pontypool, Ontario,” he explains. “One day our hero, Grant, a talk radio DJ starts to get reports of strange, unnerving acts of violence that are happening in the area. They come realize this because the English language has been infected with a virus.”
He stresses those afflicted with this strain are not zombies by any means. Instead, he calls them “conversationalists.” “There are three stages to this to this virus. The first stage is you might begin to repeat a word. Something gets stuck. And usually it’s words that are terms of endearment like sweetheart or honey. The second stage is your language becomes scrambled and you can’t express yourself properly. The third stage you become so distraught at your condition that the only way out situation you feel, as an infected person, is to try and chew your way through the mouth of another person.”
“All of the extras on set were all zombie lovers and were trying to give good zombie,” laughs McDonald. “We were trying to tell them it was a bit different, It’s more like the people on Queen Street [in Toronto] off of their meds. Chatty. Very angry. Or spooky. Really heightened states. When you got them going it was f**kin’ great to see this weird cacophony of chitter chatter.”
Pontypool is based on Tony Burgess’ novel Pontypool Changes Everything. Burgess adapted the material for the screen himself. And according to McDonald, the writer hashed out a script in 48 hours, their approach inspired by Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.
If you live in the Toronto area, you can see Pontypool when it plays at the Toronto Int’l Film Festival next month.