HOMECOMING - 2005
Nice Guy Productions / IDT Entertainment / Anchor Bay Entertainment
FeoNote: If this was a theatrical release, it likely would have got an R for rape, violence, and foul language
I've often wondered why it is that propaganda movies are rarely entertaining. From THE OMEGA CODE to the remake of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (2004), they all tank and are just dull witted. A friend of mine, who runs a local bookstore, once told me that propaganda movies aren't entertaining because the people who make them operate under the assumption that their audience is stupid. So they keep hammering on the same small point to brainwash the viewer into numb acceptance.
Review #3 of the Masters of Horror series
The original cover for HOMECOMING, was consistent with the other MASTERS OF HORROR DVDs.
HOMECOMING starts out with two characters in a car driving on a backroad, who quickly come across a stumbling zombie in a military uniform. The woman in the car goes bananas and forces her driver, a guy, to run the zombie down. Their car goes off the road and the camera focuses on their license plate, which reads BSH BABY.
The next thing you know an Army truck comes down the road and unloads a truckfull of zombies. Merry Mishaps occur.
From then on, we get the driver of the car as a narrator and the story takes us back to a month earlier. The driver is David Murch (Jon Tenney: NIGHT VISIONS [TV]), a Republican speechwriter for the current administration. He's on a TV fluff show reminiscent of CNN's Larry King Live. In this case, the interviewer is Marty Clark (Terry David Mulligan: DISTURBING BEHAVIOR), who is talking to both David and his future passenger, Jane Cleaver (Thea Gill: TRUTH), played every bit as cartoonish as the real life Ann Coulter she is meant to portray. During the show, a sobbing woman wants to speak to the President, to ask why her son died in a war which was based on a lie. David listens to the woman, then tearfully says that he wishes her son could come back from the dead. David soon gets his wish.
THEN A QUICK RE-PRESS GOT THIS.
Before you can say George Romero ... well, no, you can actually say that name a few times before the zombies come out. All of the zombies are soldiers and they all want to vote. The reason they want to vote is to end the war that killed them, a la the old film, J'ACCUSE. This is director Joe Dante (THE HOWLING, GREMLINS, GREMLINS 2, THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION), and fans know that the man will stuff his Horror movie with as many references as he can, and this is alluded to in the DVD commentary by Sam Hamm, who points out everything from names on the tombstones to fiction references like THE MONKEY'S PAW.
What's more, on the one hand, HOMECOMING pretends to have both sympathy and empathy for the soldiers and "Just want them to come home", but this is contradicted by the fact that Dante repeatedly shows the living soldiers as feckless cowards, shooting each other in fear, and cowering at the first sign of trouble - or - automatons blindly following orders. Both Joe Dante and writer Sam Hamm (BATMAN , BATMAN RETURNS , HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSE) try to play both sides of what they admit is their left wing agenda. They despise the military, really despise Republicans, yet they have to maintain the façáde of wanting the war to end because they actually care about the lives of the soldiers. Dante should have gone one way or the other: having it both ways dulls the edge of what could have been razor sharp satire.
Don't misunderstand, I've no problem with the movie going whole hog and being as bigoted as it wants to be. Satire, especially political satire, should take no prisoners. Yet Dante and Hamm seem to keep pulling back for fear of losing the very choir they are preaching to, while at the same time repeating themselves constantly as if they aren't sure their own people can follow it. Just as a devastating point is about to be made, a corny joke is tossed out instead, or a contradiction of just what was claimed before. In doing so, HOMECOMING cuts itself off at the knees, Then it ends in a way that makes you wonder if the Dante didn't just throw up his hands and give up.
I truly believe that you can make a good propaganda movie that is also entertaining. I believe this because writers have done it so often in fiction. From Gulliver's Travels to George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm to Ray Bradbury's FARENHEIT 451 to Ayn Rand's Fountainhead. What's more, I can prove that entertaining, funny, and smart propaganda/satire films can be made. In 2004, Michael Moore made the propaganda film, FARENHEIT 9/11. It was witty, breakneck and, above all, entertaining. What's more, it made money, and I don't mean good money for a "documentary", but for a film with a $6 million dollar budget, it grossed well over $100 million at the box office alone. In doing so, Moore admittedly came under fire from those he forked, but so what? He also raised and set a bar, showed us all just how to do it, and even proved that there was a huge audience for it that was smart enough to Get It. All you have to do, is commit to your shit - and accept that your own audience is at least as smart as you think you are.
FEAR NOT. HOMECOMING does not get an URCA. Despite the zombie in the foreground. Joe also wanted to make a statement about Republicans and racism, so he had to have actual black characters (not just black extras like the man in the background) in his Horror movie to make that point. This is the first Horror movie Joe has ever made with black actors in major roles.
Oh, and satires don't have to be funny, but they are SO much better when they are. Also, if you're going to make a Horror movie, then it has to be a Horror movie, and not a preachy diatribe. The series is, after all, Mick Garris' Masters of Horror.
Two Shriek Girls.
copyright 2005 E.C.McMullen Jr.
Return to Movies
"This is a horror story because most of the characters are Republicans."
- Joe Dante
During the commentary feature with script writer, Sam Hamm (based on the short dtory DEATH AND SUFFERAGE by Dale Bailey), Sam makes one unbelievable statement after the next.
At first, Sam says that the movie isn't meant to specifically represent President George Bush or the Iraq war. Joe Dante, in various interviews before the release of this film to DVD, said that it did.
Sam also swears that a character in the film who speaks nearly word for word, the Cindy Sheehan mantra, is not in fact, based on Cindy Sheehan. Nor is the shrill blonde writer and Washington Inside wannabee based only on Ann Coulter: And so on. Yet it's hard to take him at his word when the license plate on Murch's car says, BSH BABY. Or the president of the movie sounds like the accent and mannerism of George Bush Jr.
Finally, around the halfway mark, Sam just gives up and comes clean, admitting that he and Joe Dante wanted to make HOMECOMING a quote "scurrilous propaganda piece", adding "We got to toss out every talking point of conspiracy theory that we could possibly cook up in a 60 minute format."
I'm not making this up, this is what Sam says. So, there you have it.
Joe Dante didn't shirk from why he made this movie. In Turin, Italy he told audiences exactly how much he hates Republicans.
Check out an interview with Joe Dante at
An interview with
Dale Bailey at