For those who have access to the cable channel Showtime (alas, I do not), something special is happening this weekend. Joe Dante, celebrated director of such genre gems as Hollywood Boulevard, The Howling, The ‘Burbs, Gremlins and its far superior sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Explorers and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, arrives tonight, Saturday and Sunday night with his highly anticipated contribution to the network’s “Masters of Horror” anthology series. The film, entitled Homecoming, promises to be horror as social satire and agitprop of an order not seen since George A. Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead. The hour-long film centers around the dead veterans of a current military “conflict” rising from their graves with only one thing on their putrefied brains—casting the undead vote at polling places around the country in order to defeat the incumbent president who sent them overseas to fight a war sold to the public, and the soldiers, on “horseshit and elbow grease.”
Though I’d been aware of the “Masters of Horror” series, the first I’d heard of Homecoming came via Dave Kehr’s blog, who reported on it and its reception from the Turin Film Festival, and since then the word has been spreading in anticipation of the movie’s premiere on Showtime tonight. Dennis Lim writes in the new Village Voice about the film, Dante’s artistic intentions, and how Homecoming fits into the zombie movie canon, and you can click here to go directly to Showtime’s podcast site, where Dante himself can be heard talking about what he feels is the importance of his latest project.
My good friend Paul has offered to tape Homecoming for me this weekend so I can see it for myself. But even if he can’t, I’m sure a DVD release (probably within a boxed set of the entire inaugural season of “Masters of Horror”) won’t be too far down the road in 2006. And above and beyond that, I can at least be happy that a fine director, and a funny guy too (take a listen to his audio commentaries on the Hollywood Boulevard and The Howling DVDs if you don’t believe me) may finally be getting some long-overdue attention for making a film in a beloved, and none-too-respected, genre whose subject just happens to have grabbed his heart and ripped it, still beating, of course, from his chest for all of us to see and enjoy.