Episode 96: Pontypool

We’re back and we’re trying to make even less sense than usual. This is for your protection. Pontypool has taught us the hidden dangers that lie in meaning, so we’re going to follow the advice of William S Burroughs and exterminate all rational thought.

William S Burroughs

Cut the word lines. And step out into silence. It is yours. It is everybody’s. You do not see the trees when you walk down the street because of ‘The “Word” Tree’.

While Pontypool is not based on the work of Burroughs, his influence coats it like a viscous splatter of undifferentiated tissue. This is possibly the strangest zombie film ever made, if you can even call it a zombie film, more concerned with linguistics than brain-eating. It deals with a maddening memetic plague, spreading like a virus through the English language. Any word could be the one that sends you into a spiral of cannibalistic insanity.

Saying “week” instead of “fortnight” has this effect on me.

While there is little action or violence in Pontypool, its strange ideas, claustrophobic setting and slow build up of dread are all great inspiration for horror RPGs. We spend some time picking these elements apart and discussing how we would use them in our games.

To be fair, this kind of thing happens in most games I run.

And speaking of horrible things coming from human mouths, spreading madness and suffering, there is more singing in this episode. We have a new $5 backer on Patreon, so we are singing our thanks in our own, indescribable manner. In fact, we have a lot of thanks to offer in this episode. This is probably because of the upcoming cut-off for issue 2 of our backer-only fanzine, The Blasphemous Tome. Time is running out!

The faces we pull while singing are far more alarming than this.

As we mention at the start of the episode, Matt appeared on a recent panel discussion hosted by Thom Raley of Into the Darkness. If you fancy learning more about scenario design or simply want to marvel at Matt’s groaning bookshelves, click below!

And in our Lovecraftian Word of the Fortnight Week segment, we mention a marvellous sketch from Burnistoun that mixes Lovecraftian horror and the mundanity of dealing with the council. Well, here it is in all its sanity-blasting glory.

If you liked that, you may also enjoy their cosmic-horror-tinged Epiphany Continuum sketch.


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6 comments on “Pontypool

  1. משוגע־סאָפֿע Jan 18, 2017

    a small addendum (circa 190 min):
    the projection booth podcast issue #294
    ( http://projection-booth.blogspot.nl/2016/10/episode-294-pontypool-2008.html )
    includes interviews w/ Mr BURGESS & Mr McDONALD
    .. cheerio from me!

  2. Evan Dorkin Feb 2, 2017

    Pontypool reminded me a lot of The Peoria Plague, broadcast from radio station WUHN in Peoria, Illinois in 1972. It’s about a zombie (or, zombie-like) outbreak happening in real time, a take on the War of the Worlds broadcast crossed with Night of the Living Dead. But instead of actors the cast is the actual on-air station news staff. Like with the traffic reporter in Pontypool, the on-air newscaster gets field reports from a number of reporters at various locations as things fall apart. They play it straight and it’s a lot of fun (and credibly creepy in places).

    It’s on Youtube if anyone wants to give it a listen:


    Enjoyed the episode, as always, btw.

    • Thank you for that! It shall give that a listen on my way into work.

      As an aside, I just wanted to mention what a huge fan I am of your comic work. I must admit to issuing a very unmanly squee when I saw you mention in an interview that you listen to our podcast.

  3. Evan Dorkin Feb 6, 2017

    Thanks for that, very nice to hear. Mutual appreciation society, it is, then. I found the podcast last year and pretty much binge-listened until I caught up recently. It’s helped me get me through long, lonely work stretches and I really enjoy it. if I wasn’t in comics I would’ve donated by now (hope to change that this coming year — the donation part, that is).

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit I’ve never played Call of Cthulhu, despite being a lapsed gamer. Almost played once in the 80’s but everyone took so long to roll up characters the night ended before anything could get going. I enjoy the gaming episodes, anyway (and I still hope to play one day).

    Very nice ‘talking” with you — e

    • No worries on the donation front. As a writer, I more than sympathise!

      If you ever fancy trying Call of Cthulhu, just let me know. I run a fair number of one-shots online for people from around the world and it would be my pleasure to have you in a game.

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