Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Horror by Letters: P


Pontypool (2008)
Directed by Bruce McDonald.

Plot: In the small town of Pontypool, Ontario, the local radio station and its crew of three people start the day as usual, one sleepy story after another, but as the day moves on they receive reports of violence happening all over the region. This includes riots, people killing each other, and intervention from the Canadian Government. Soon they find themselves hiding in the station from the horror outside they keep reporting. If that was not bad enough, they can't figure out what's going on. 

Review: As we've been saying these days, modern horror seems to be all about blood and guts. Pontypool swerves away from that trend and goes back to the Jaws technique of not showing the monster. The whole first half we are left to guess what is happening and our imaginations run wild. Now, I like the resolution of the story but I know there are a lot of detractors who consider the second half to be awash, not me, though. I also give it even more credit for what they were able to pull off on such a short budget. Pontypool is claustrophobic, and scary. A true radio broadcast from hell.


Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay.
Published by F.W. Cheshire in 1967.

Blurb: Part drama, part mystery novel, Australian author Joan Lindsay wrote it in only four weeks. The plot focuses on a group of girls at an Australian women's college in the year 1900 who vanish during a Valentine's Day picnic at the site of an enormous rock formation. The novel's ambiguous ending has ensured the survival of the piece through various debates through the years.

Review: This story is quite well written and mysterious but its most important value is as one of the best hoaxes in history. Up there next to Well's War of the Worlds broadcast, Picnic at Hanging Rock is, to this date, believed to be a real story by many who later have to confront the reality of its falseness. Hanging Rock does exist in the Australian wilderness and Lindsay was clever enough to feed the ambiguity of her story, thus perpetuating the lie. If you are interested in learning more about this clever author, her book, and the consequences the novel has had, click here. But I bet I've peaked your curiosity enough to read the book. Oh, and remember to look for "The Secret of Hanging Rock" which holds the last chapter in the book which Lindsay decided to hold unpublished until three years after her death. Talk about building suspense.


Jessica Salyer said...

I haven't seen this movie or read this book. I'll have to check them both out. Thanks for the suggestions.

Lynn Proctor said...

they both sound like what a scary movie should be---hate all the guts and gore

Chris Fries said...

I've never seen that movie, but the blurb reminds me of "The Fog" -- a radio DJ inside dealing with weirdness and death happening outside.

I also second the "give me suspense and let me imagine the horror -- don't go for the visceral gross-out" attitude!

Gina said...

Jessica, I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for stopping by.

Lynn, I'm with you. Quiet horror is much more horrific. Thanks for coming back!

Chris, I saw the original The Fog and I didn't made the connection at first, but you're right. Both have a radio DJ dealing with pretty creepy stuff. Good call!

Jessica said...

I haven't seen or read either but you've got me wanting to look them both up!

A to Z Blogger & SF/Fantasy Writer @ Visions of Other Worlds

Gina said...

Thanks for commenting Jessica. I hope you enjoy them!