This episode discusses Jeff Barnaby’s new Indigenous zombie film, Blood Quantum in conversation with his modern classic, Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013).
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Rhymes For Young Ghouls
Mi’gmaq director Jeff Barnaby’s debut feature uses the language of various film genres to convey the real life horrors of Canada’s Residential Schools. Set in 1976, teenager Aila (Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs) deals drugs so she can bribe Indian Agent Popper (Mark Antony Krupa) to avoid being sent to Residential School. When Aila’s money is stolen and her father returns from prison, tensions between Popper and the family intensify into a violent cycle of revenge.
Blood Quantum‘s premise is that zombies are taking over the world, and only Indigenous people are immune to their bites; they can still be killed, but they won’t turn into zombies themselves. The result is that the Quebec reserve where the film is set becomes the last bastion of humanity, a refuge in danger of being overwhelmed by the brain-eating zombies who just come and come and come and even if you kill them, there’s more where they came from (like, you know, colonialism!). The community, meanwhile, is torn between offering refuge to white people because they’re able to and avoiding the risk and just trying to save themselves. This is complicated by the fact that the local sheriff (Michael Greyeyes) is expecting a grandchild from his teenage son (Forrest Goodluck) and his white girlfriend (Olivia Scriven).
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Show notes and recommended reading
- Read Alex’s interview with Jeff Barnaby.
- Rhymes for Young Ghouls ranked 7th on our best of the decade list. See why and view the other choices.
- Check out our Best Canadian Film of the Decade Survey, where Brett picked Rhymes for Young Ghouls
- Read Brett’s interview with Alanis Obomsawim about her film Our People Will Be Healed in 2017.
- Listen to last week’s podcast episode, which discusses colonialism and genre films in the context of Australian Westerns.
- Pre-order our newest ebook on Kelly Reichardt, available May 8
Where to watch the films
- Blood Quantum is out today (April 28) on VOD in Canada and the United States, as well as streaming on Shudder in the USA, UK, and Ireland
- Rhymes for Young Ghouls is on VOD as well as streaming on Fandor and Hoopla in Canada, on Prime in the USA, and on Kanopy in Australia
- Alanis Obomsawin’s Incident as Restigouche (1984) is available from the National Film Board in Canada