Tall, Dark, and Dead – 59 – Masters of Horror: Homecoming
Title: Masters of Horror: Homecoming
Director: Joe Dante
Leads: Jon Tenney, Thea Gill, Robert Picardo
Favorite quote: “He feels pain!”
“Aw, hell. He volunteered.”
“If you want to talk about precedent, Marty, dead people have been voting in Chicago since time began.”
Thoughts: I’d always heard about Homecoming, and wanted desperately to watch it – thank God Netflix has Masters of Horror available, now. It was a fantastic series.
So. I bawled. Especially when the nice café owner takes in the zombie wandering in the street and…baaawl.
This is the type of zombie production that makes me cry like a little baby. It’s also a very political zombie movie, so I’m going to try to be circumspect. It ends up becoming sort of Anne Coulter vs. The Zombies at the end, but without the satisfyingly chewy conclusion that I would have liked to have seen. In fact, the movie had a ridiculous ending that was truly funny, but also sort of tarnished the viewing experience – that’s the only critical thing I can say about it.
The first thing I’d like to talk about is the construction of the zombies. Their reanimation is attributed to a virus, and there’s some time spent explaining how and why they operate – they can speak, they’re not immediately cannibalistic, somebody mentions independent body part movement, etc. All of this is very interesting, and yet, I wonder why the creators felt they had to go into such detail. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – if your zombies don’t need to be complicated, don’t make them complicated. (My zombies are very complicated, but I’m writing an ongoing series where that opens up lots of narrative opportunity for me.) The zombies in Homecoming are meant to be short-lived metaphors, and they could have been kept very simple.
Secondly, the story focuses on fallen soldiers returning to participate in the electoral process, and thus ends up being about the use of dead people and their subsequent rebellion. This is yet another movie where zombies really take the place of ghosts, in that they have a very definite purpose – they’ve come back to vote, and once they do so they keel over, their purpose fulfilled. Normally I’d argue that the story should have stuck with ghosts, but in this case, I think the filmmakers went with the more effective option. Ghosts wouldn’t have done the job. Homecoming is a story about individuals coming back fundamentally altered by their time overseas, and we need to see that in order to respect what’s happened to them and how it has changed them.
The part that really struck me as being completely applicable to today’s political environment was when the television talking-head pastor, assuming the zombies will vote conservatively, waxes rhapsodic about the dead returning. “It’s God’s will! He’s bringin’ back our boys!” The minute the zombies vote liberal? “THESE ARE SATAN’S SPAWN! THEY’VE CRAWLED UP FROM THE DEPTHS OF HELL!” Nailed it. Wow.