Halloween is a holiday observed in many parts of the world on October 31st, dedicated to all things scary, gruesome and gory. Whilst we now imagine Halloween with pumpkins, trick-or-treating and costume parties, Halloween has a long, and rather dark history. The traditions of Halloween are thought to date back to pre-Christian Celtic times, when people would hold festivals to honour the dead. It is thought that people believed the 31st October to be a time when the world we know and Otherworld came together, allowing ghosts and spirits to roam among the living. Since then, Halloween has been a symbol of fear – and unsurprisingly, many movie makers have used the themes of scary, frightful and fearful to capture the imagination of movie goes – often playing on people’s innate fear of the unknown, invisible, or apocalyptic event.
To celebrate, this episode of The Neutrinos are Mutating is a bumper-packed Halloween special, looking at the truth behind two recent scary movies, World War Z and Paranormal Activity.
Silence and video cameras make up the main protagonist in this 2007 indie movie. With a budget of only $15,000 (going on to make upwards of $190 million and spawning a successful series of horror movie), Paranormal Activity focuses on a house possessed by an invisible demon, who’s actions are captured by a series of video recorders. Described as a ‘ingenious and often genuinely frightening film’, this movie plays on the idea of the supernatural, something that we can’t see, but is present and able to interact with us. To discuss these ideas, and in particular, exactly what makes the idea of the paranormal so believable, we are joined by Neil Dagnall, a principal lecturer in Parapsychology to find out just what makes people believe in ghosts…
World War Z
Imagine being chased down the street by a blood thirsty, violent zombie… somehow escaping to find that a zombie-making virus has spread around the globe, causing untold death and destruction. This is the gloomy outlook that World War Z, the 2013 Hollywood blockbuster presents. In the movie, based on the 2006 book of the same title by Max Brooks, Brad Pitt is chased around the globe as he attempts to survive and produce a solution from a vicious zombie outbreak.
In fact, the movie uses a fictional virus, Solanum, to convert people into zombies. In the second part of the podcast we are joined by Prof Joanna Verran, a Professor of Microbiology as we ask if the science of a zombie apocalypse is accurate (as well as discussions on werewolves and vampires for good measure!), and if there is anything we should be worried about…
Listen to these related episodes:
In this episode, we talk to Jo Verran, Professor of Microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University, and find out if bombs could prevent the spread of disease, as seen in Wolfgang Peterson’s 1995 film ‘Outbreak’.
One in two British, German and American people believe in alien life. But if alien life existed, what would it mean for humans? In this episode we are investigating Independence Day: Resurgence, discussing evidence for aliens, the practicality of living in space and asking why so many people believe in alien life?