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Masters of Horror: Homecoming

Released: 2005

Genre: Horror

Runtime: 1 hr 0 min

MPAA Rating: NR

Director: Joe Dante

Starring: Jon Tenney, Thea Gill, Wanda Cannon, Terry David Mulligan, Robert Picardo

Dead Iraqi War vets rise from the grave to unseat the president. The hour-long episode aired during the first season of Showtime’s Masters of Horror series.

One subversive image on top of another.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 8 years ago

This is the first (and best) contribution director Joe Dante made to Mick Garris’ now-discontinued Masters of Horror cycle. There’s not much to recommend it as a horror movie – the hour-long episode features zombies, a few violent deaths but nothing really graphic or scary. No, this is first and foremost a political satire, one that qualifies as horror only because, as writer Sam Hamm explains in a lively commentary track on the DVD, “all of the characters are Republicans.”

Based on a short story by Dale Bailey called Death and Suffrage (which is actually about something completely different: gun control), Homecoming takes place during the 2004 presidential campaign. A Republican aide (many of the characters are transparently modeled on real-life right-wingers, like Ann Coulter and Karl Love, but the hero appears to be completely fictional) goes on TV and tells the mother of a dead Iraq War vet: “If I had one wish, I would wish for your son to come back, because I know he would tell us how important this struggle is.” Sure enough, the fallen start rising from the grave – not to tell us how important the struggle is, but to throw the bastards out of office.

This is nothing if not a radical concept, and Dante piles one subversive image on top of another. There’s an unforgettable scene near the beginning of the episode that takes place at one of those American bases where the news media aren’t allowed to film the soldiers’ coffins (Obama and his defense secretary have since overturned this law). An American flag slides to the floor and out comes a mangled young man in uniform, who the MP quickly shoots. Later, another soldier bangs the Karl Rove character’s head on a table until his brains come out. The film is fuelled by two things that weren’t exactly in short supply during the Bush years: namely, rage and contempt.

But this is a Joe Dante film, so you spend most of your time laughing at the cartoonish anarchy of it all. This guy is responsible for what are – to me, at least – some of the most rewatchable movies ever made (Gremlins, Explorers, The ‘burbs, Matinee…). Homecoming represented something of a comeback for the genre hero, and that’s a reason to celebrate. Can’t wait to see his new horror movie, The Hole (in 3-D), next year!