“Masters of Horror: Homecoming”
Stars: John Tenney, Thea Gill, Robert Picardo
Writer: Based on the short story “Death & Suffrage” by Dale Bailey; Teleplay by Sam Hamm
Dir: Joe Dante
I really wished the “Masters of Horror” series had a group of executives with balls backing it up. It gave a group of directors, mostly known in horror circles, a chance to take the “Tales From The Crypt,” “Outer Limits,” “Twilight Zone” approach to risqué material. Of all of the episodes of the two, short-lived seasons, I had a handful of favorites: Takashi Miike’s “Imprint,” “Don Coscarelli’s “An Incident On and Off a Mountain Road,” among others, and, absolutely Joe Dante’s “Homecoming.”
Before you think me a hippie, elitist, liberal, soldier-hater, enemy sympathizer, etc., I purely looked at this (at first) as an entertaining take on the zombie mythos — what if zombies came back and had a purpose, other than to eradicate the “living disease?”
What if they happened to be soldiers of a current war conflict? What about soldiers of conflicts decades ago? What if all they wanted to do was express one of the most valued rights and expressions of democracy: To vote.
That, as a concept, is fascinating.
Put it in the hands of Joe “Gremlins” Dante, you have a few chances at making fun of the establishment.
For you young bloods, Dante skewered the consumer culture of the 1980s (without many of rich and privileged even realizing it) right in the middle of the craze with “Gremlins” in 1985 (take a look at that film with that idea in mind).
So, to take on “Homecoming,” written to address the current, heavy issue of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Dante churned out an hour of something that should have drawn a shitload of debatable heat.
So, here it is: A war is going on. A sitting president is facing massive ridicule regarding an ongoing war, a war that is increasingly becoming unpopular. When David Murch (Tenney), a pundit for the sitting president, makes an off-the-cuff wish on a cable news show for his dead brother, killed in (or around) Vietnam, and other dead veterans to return and tell the world how proud they were to die for their country, the dead veterans begin to arrive at polling places. While an Ann Coulter-clone (Gill) attempts to capitalize on the pundit’s call, the president’s re-election team soon learns the dead veterans might not be too happy to have gone to war “for a lie.” After they “speak” at the polls, the dead drop dead, but, for the sitting president, it may be the end of the line, unless his pundit and the newly-groomed talking-head can find a way to spin the exit polls, demonize the dead voters, and make it all palatable to the American public — all in an effort to win re-election.
But, you can’t keep a good soldier down, especially an American one.
Romero Rules Followed: None; these zombies arise simply to have a purpose, and they have no need for eating humans. In fact, the only violence they display is if their honor is questioned (great scene).
Gore factor: Moderate
Zombies or Wannabees? Zombies, but in a very different category.
Classic, fine, or waste of time: Classic
Additional comments: I really, really enjoyed “Homecoming,” but I could not enjoy it as much as I think I should have. For one, I know a few vets from the current war. They are not exactly a fan of thinking they went and fought for nothing. And, sadly, the scars of how Vietnam veterans were treated are still mending. I would feel more comfortable in praising “Homecoming” if some honest servicemen/women could watch it, without reservation, and tell me “I have no regrets for what I was sent to do.”
I would be an incredible asshole to even think I could predict/give an opinion as to how any veteran of any war/conflict would/should react should they survive/be killed in battle.
While “Homecoming” was an over-the-top parody/political commentary that (slightly) flinches at really driving the point home, I enjoyed it, and would encourage everyone, conservative, liberal, green, anarchist, hippie, etc. to watch it, put aside your personal ideals, and then, only then, decide how you feel about “Homecoming.”