Sunday, January 13, 2008

Army of The Dead

Why is it that one of the most politically ballsy films of all time was regulated to a horror series on Showtime that no one ever saw?

About a year ago, Showtime Network was running a series called, Masters of Horror. It was an anthology program in which every week, a "name" director would produce a one hour fright film. Sort of like The Twilight Zone, but with a touch more gore.

I'd seen several of these mini-movies and they were pretty pedestrian in my humble opinion.

That is, with the exception of Joe Dante's entry, Homecoming (which I just re-watched on DVD).

Told in a flashback style, Homecoming takes the tried-and-true zombie epic and flips it around a bit. Instead of the dead returning to eat us, this time, they are back for a much more noble mission.

Set in the present day in Washington D.C., Homecoming tells the tale of political adviser, David Murch (played by Jon Tenny) and his girlfriend, Jane Cleaver (Thea Gill as an Ann Coulter-like creature, complete with a foul mouth and tight fitting skirts), who are both working hard to make sure that their candidate, the sitting president ( a George W. Bush sound-a-like), remains in office. One night Jane and David are appearing on a Larry King-like talk show and told of a mother who was removed from the President's latest rally because she asked him why her son had to die (shades of Cindy Sheehan). Later on, the mother appears on the show and David tries to slime his way out of the woman's question by saying that he wished that all of the dead soldiers could come back. Indeed, he even lost an older brother in the Vietnam war, or so he claims. Well it seems that his words are so touching that the President starts using the same line in all of his stump speeches.

Careful what you wish for!
Late one night at an Army base in Washington, the corpses of recently killed soldiers who have been lying in an airline hanger, start to reanimate and soon begin to slowly stalk the nation's capital with one thought on their mind - they've come back to vote !
Fearing a public relations catastrophe, the powers that be allow the dead soldiers to vote. And it is noted that once a zombie casts his ballot, he dies - for good.

Soon, the Republican machine puts their spin machine into full mode, praising the fallen soldiers and swearing that their vote will count - since they, above all Americans, have made the ultimate sacrifice. They even enlist the help of rather familiar looking blowhard preacher to take to the airwaves saying that these zombies are actually God's angels returned to do his bidding.

That is until one of the fallen shows up at a candidate's rally and begins to question the wisdom of the war. Uh oh, these zombies can think, and speak! When the dead soldier asks the candidate if he'd ever fought in a war, or watched his comrades fall by his side, the candidate shakes and shivers, not out of the horror over talking to a zombie, but over the fact that he must now admit the truth about his military knowledge, which is minimal at best.

Once it gets out that the zombies are not pro-war, the Republican spin starts again with the same preacher now claiming that these dead soldiers are demons, and that this is god's judgment on the United States. The National Guard starts to round up the reanimated and holds them in large make-shift prisons claiming that they present a possible biological hazard to the citizenry.

Of course, since this is a horror-film, we are treated to a fabulous fright moment when one of the zombie soldiers attacks and kills one of the president's top advisers, a Karl Rove-like worm who dies a gory death at the hands of the soldier whose very mother was earlier thrown out of the sitting President's rally for asking questions about her son's death. It's a moment that is both scary and strangely cathartic.

To say much more, would ruin the film's final punchline, and it is a doozy! Just go and add this one to your Netflix cue and sit back for an hours worth of political satire all dressed up for Halloween.

1 comment:

satanslilsunbeam said...

I so agree with you on this. I thought it was genius. Not only creepy, but a brilliant satire/commentary, but so many people ripped on it as being awful and a bad addition to Master of Horror. I thought it was, by far, the best episode as most of the series was crap.