Season 1, Episode 6
Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Sam Hamm
Based on ‘ Death & Suffrage’ a short story by Dale Bailey
Masters of Horror is an anthology TV series created by Mick Garris which first aired on the Showtime network in 2005. Each episode is a stand alone one hour film, directed by a master horror director. Masters of Horror ran for two seasons and is available on DVD. In Fear and Loathing, Vivid Scribe takes a look at each episode in this series.
The prospect of a Masters of Horror in the hands of Joe Dante sets expectations sky rocketing. However, while the point of ‘Homecoming’ was understood and even appreciated, this episode is ridiculous to the point of being an embarrassment to the rest of the series.
The story goes like this. It’s election season in Washington and political consultant David Murch makes a statement, that is later regurgitated by the president, that he wishes all fallen veterans could come back from the dead and tell the world what it meant to them to die for the war effort. And that’s what happens. But instead of ‘Homecoming’ being a potentially cool zombie flick, directed by one the greatest directors of 1980s comedy/horror, it’s a lame political soapbox that falls flat, flails around, and falls again. And again.
I’m not sure which is the worst part of the story – the plot point that these zombie veterans are returning from the grave because they want to vote in the election, or the whole Murch backstory about him accidentally shooting his Vietnam vet brother when he was a kid, wishing he could bring him back, forgetting about it, but still having this magical wishing ability, and then of course bringing him back only to get zombified himself so he can join the zombie march of democracy. Can one be worse than the other or are they just two different types of extremely bad story telling.
‘Homecoming’ is also sure to upset undead enthusiasts with these zombies not only being able to vote, but being able to talk (except they choose not to because it hurts), and feel and reason. Not only that, some zombies go for the standard zombie attack while some just wander around peacefully lamenting their social ostracism. Where’s the consistency?
The episode is in flashback from Murch’s point of view, and shows how he gets involved with hot headed political commentator, Jane Cleaver. Cleaver’s gun toting zombie shooting first appearance in the episode was a good start, but as the story unfolded and we learned exactly what these so-called zombies were all about, her inclusion in the story became just another mouthpiece for partisan political rhetoric.
It was obvious ‘Homecoming’ was not taking itself seriously as a horror flick, and was even trying to be funny in its attempt at satire. But the satirical edge was lost as the show gets too caught up in its own black and white propaganda to display any of the intelligence that successful satire requires. It’s understood that the political climate in the U.S at the time this was made was rife for comment and the flaws in the system needed their exposure. And that’s fine. This review isn’t in any way against political comment in popular culture, it’s just against bad plots and lame movies that force ideologies without any regard for the art of the medium they’re utilising.