Beverley Breuer …. Janet Hofstadter
Sean Carey …. Gordon Hofstadter
Candus Churchill …. Mrs. Baker
Nathaniel DeVeaux …. Mr. Baker
Jason Emanuel …. Michael
Thea Gill …. Jane Cleaver
Connor Christopher Levins …. Young David
Ryan McDonell …. Phillip Murch
Terry David Mulligan …. Marty Clark
Robert Picardo …. Kurt Rand
Jon Tenney …. David Murch
Thinking about it now, most of the best Zombie movies that ever been made have been really political. For me, this is what has made George Romero’s films in the genre stand out, as each of them has not only been an expertly director shock fest, but also films with messages about racism, wealth and society. Taking his queues from Romero, Director Joe Dante has taken this mantra to the extreme with his Masters of Horror entry, Homecoming.
This episode stars Jon Tenney as David Murch, a political consultant with the Republican Party out to see that the conservatives stay in office in the coming 2008 election. He’s smooth and cool under pressure, giving him an aura of respectability. While working his magic on a political talk show, Murch comes face to face with a grieving mother, asking why her son had to die in the Iraq War. While trying to play it off, Murch’s cool persona comes unraveled as the woman’s statements remind him of the loss of his own brother in Viet Nam. In a genuine moment, he nearly breaks down, and wishes that the woman’s boy could come back to show how proud he was to serve his country. Unfortunately for Murch, his wish comes true.
This is an episode that plays to many of Joe Dante’s strengths as a director. Homecoming is packed with black comedy, blunt horror, and political satire. The only thing missing in it is any subtlety whatsoever. Dante lays all of his feelings about the current administration, the Iraq War, and his misgivings about political spin doctors all on the line for us to see. While you’ve got to admire his determination to not beat around the bush (no pun intended); he does tend to beat you over the head with his stances on politics.
Case in point is the character of Jane Cleaver played by Thea Gill. Cleaver represents the worst of the brash conservative hate mongers. She makes fun of war protesters and outs them as turncoats and traitors. She’s power hungry, and steps on whomever she needs to, to get what she wants. The problem is, is that she never comes off as more than a caricature. She rants and raves and when the time comes that she might die, we’re glad of it, but basically because she’s just really annoying.
Tenney does much better as Murch. He’s compassionate and is really having issues with the backstabbing and lying that the administration is carrying out. His own experiences with his brother are brought to light, which helps round out the character, even with the relatively short running time. When the dead begin to rise, he really does some soul searching as to why they’ve come back.
My favorite of the character is probably Robert Picardo as Kurt Rand. He’s a special advisor to the President and the most ruthless of all the characters. He’s also the funniest. Picardo is a personal favorite of Dante’s and he’s in top form here, bringing the same sort of fun he brought to Gremlins II and The Howling with his signature style of comedy.
What really makes this episode work are the zombies themselves. Not your stereotypical brain eaters, these undead soldiers simply want to come back and do what they think is right. There are some genuinely touching scenes with the zombies, such as one involving a couple whose son was still in the conflict and another where a soldier simply wants to vote. It is only when their voices are not heard that the zombies decide to rise up and start with the killing.
Homecoming is an enjoyable piece of film making that’s simply too one sided to be great. The hour is fun and entertaining, but not as thought provoking as Dante would have liked it to be. Still, there’s a passion here that is undeniable and Dante makes the most out of the hour he’s given to tell the story he wants to. It’s this determination that will hopefully land him another gig on the big screen soon. I’d personally really love to see another Gremlins fun fest.
Score: 7.0 /10
The video look’s great, as the print is pretty crisp from beginning to end. The episode is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also fine, with no noticeable flaws and has a good balance.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary, Featurettes, Interviews, and Trailers.
The Dead Come Marching – an Interview with Joe Dante – This is a half hour Featurette where Dante talks about his beginnings in the industry and runs throughout his entire career. The guy has really made some fun pictures, and this actually makes me want to go back and check out some of his pictures under Roger Corman. Piranha looks really bad, but also really fun. This also reminded me how much I loved Dante’s Gremlin movies as well as The Howling. A significant portion of this Featurette is also spent going over Dante’s ideas about this episode and how strongly against the war he is. The director seems to feel very grateful to have gotten this opportunity, even saying that only Showtime would have let him run wild like this.
Working With A Master: Joe Dante – This also runs about half and hour and features several of the actors and creators that have worked with Dante over the years. From Roger Corman to Corey Feldman, all have nothing but huge praise for Dante and his creativity. Robert Picardo shows up to give his support and has some fun insights into the makeup effects on The Howling as well and his “Cowhand” song in Innerspace.
Behind The Scenes: The Making of Homecoming – This is all random back stage footage. It’s not terribly interesting, but has its moments.
From Script to Screen – This also has back stage footage, but also compares it to the episode’s original script.
On Set: An Interview with Jon Tenney – Tenney has more praise for Dante here, and seems to have really loved his experience on this film. He especially loves the scene in which a couple take in an undead soldier, which tries to bring real heart to this episode.
On Set: An Interview with Robert Picardo – God, this guy is funny. I wish Picardo could actually get more work because the guy is really hilarious. He’s really proud of his work in Homecoming and I can see why as he’s the best one in the episode.
On Set: An Interview with Thea Gill – Thea Gill comes off as much more personal in this interview than she does in Homecoming. She seems to really enjoy acting over the top though, so good for her.
Commentary by Writer Sam Hamm – This is a pretty detailed track, starting with Hamm’s association with Joe Dante and how it was Dante who came up with the idea of doing a political commentary. Apparently they went through several different stories before they found the one they used, which was actually an anti-gun analogy, but one that was easily adaptable to fit their own needs.
Fantasy Film Festival: Mick Garris Interviews Joe Dante Archival Featurette – This old school interview was taken around the time that Piranha was released, and its fun to see the director early on before he gained the popularity he would later garner.
Trailers – You get a ton of trailers here, most for other Masters of Horror entries, as well as other Anchor Bay releases.
Joe Dante Bio
Score: 8.0 /10
|InsidePulse’s Ratings for Masters of Horror: Joe Dante – Homecoming
||RATING(OUT OF 10)
||7.5(NOT AN AVERAGE)|