Masters of Horror: Joe Dante - Homecoming Review
Written by: thegoldensimatar
ALL HAIL THE MASTERS! Out of the Masters movies I have seen thus far Homecoming is my personal favorite. I'm a zombie fan and once I read this was a zombie episode, I promptly tuned in. The storyline is it is a few weeks before the next US Presidential Election, America is in a current war that is very unpopular war and to make matters more complex for the Republican Election Commity, dead soldiers from the war come back. Course there is shock but the Republicans cry out that the soldiers will say they support the war in full. Well...that really doesn't go as planned as they make a public statment they died for a lie in a desert country. And thier purpose to coming back...eat people? Nope...to vote, vote the President who got them killed out of office. And once they vote, they finally expire for good. But...one thing one should know, tis best to count the votes of the desceased or else they call in reenforcements.
Needless to say I don't think I have to clear up with anyone that Homecoming is an up front political satire of the current George W. Bush administration and the current conflict in Iraq. I also want to say I am a Democrat but I will try and keep my personal politics out of this review and try to straddle the line.
Homecoming is a definate shocker for me at least. I am a George A. Romero fan and love his Dead series and I also enjoy some of the better Italian zombie films like Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 and Michele Soavi's Dellamorte Dellamore aka Cemetery Man. They all got one thing in common, zombies eating people. If you are expecting that in Homecoming, you will be disappointed. Director Joe Dante (The Howling) makes a movie that is far more of a political film than a horror movie. Which defintaly took me by great suprise as the movie did its one hour run. George Romero's zombie films do have social and sometimes political commentaries in them, yet they are far more subtle than what Dante does. Homecoming is out in the open and unabashed in what is is satiring, I dont' think even Bush would be able to be confused his administration is the target of Dante's guns. (Sorry for that, but couldn't resist)
I have to hand it to Dante for having the balls for doing a movie like this. When I first heard of Masters I expected it to be straight up horror up and down and didn't expect a poltical anti-genre movie. Then again getting Homecoming off the ground as a feature film would probably be very hard considering what it is doing but I am happy that IDT went along with giving Dante the money to make this.
Homecoming is based off a short story by Dale Bailey called Death and Suffrage I have never read it and after seeing the movie I am very curious in reading Bailey's story. I do not know if it was written for another war or this one or even something else, but at any case I would love to see the parrells between book and film.
Lets jump into the cast for a bit shall we? Jon Tenney and Thea Gill play the main characters David Murch and Jane Cleaver. Both David and Jane are on a conservative talk show when a mother whose son dies in battle asks why did he die. David is the one who sparks the zombies by saying if he had one wish it would be her son to come back. David knows the pains of war, his older brother was killed in Vietnam...at least that is what he thinks. Robert Picardo also stars as Kurt Rand, a slimly politlcal advisor Karl Rove-esque person who has multiple ideas of how to exploit the zombies.
They all deliver excellent preformances and play the movie very seriously though a scene between Picardo and Tenney above the body of a half dismembered soldier and Picardo whips out a Beretta and promptly dumps half the magizine into the soldier and says very casually 'you can't kill them' and offers the gun to Tenney for a round seems a bit over the top though.
The zombies from Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger are excellent. They are not as 'juicy' as those in Romero's Land of the Dead, they have a far more dried out, dusty look to them. The battle wounds from a soldier who has a been shot through the eye to some who were apparenty burned alive are superb on a film with a low budget and shooting time. I also have to hand it to Nicotero and Berger and the whole KNB team because they are jumping from movie to movie that are varied in the terms of what they need and the time needed to create. Thier ablitiy to jump into such different projects so quickly shows they got great skill and love of thier craft. Mick Garris chose wise when he tapped KNB to provide the Masters effects.
The music is very well done yet it doesn't stand out like a score from Carpenter or one of the numerous well scored Italian horror films. Though, for a film that goes against the usual zombie genre and takes itself more of a political satire, it fits.
Homecoming is my personal favorite of the Masters movies, yet I have only seen about half though it will be hard to top such a smart film. Mick Garris stated that he wanted to break the 'sameness' in current horror films and Homecoming does just that. While most zombie films go for the gore and action, Homecoming is very George Romero satire but without the flesh eating.
Joe Dante created a very smart (though rather heavy handed) film that could only be done with Masters of Horror. Even if someone is not a fan of a horror film but of political films, they will love Homecoming since the only thing that links it to horror is the zombies...otherwise a very good political thrill ride.
Homecoming is a film that I think will last for some time.