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Dante's Inferno

A horror movie brings out the zombie vote to protest Bush's war

Real events were indeed catching up with Homecoming before it was completed. "It was only when we started shooting that Cindy Sheehan emerged," Dante says. "It was weird, because everybody said [of the war mother character], 'Oh, you based that on Cindy Sheehan!' It was just a coincidence, but I guess it was inevitable that somebody like that would show up."

Dante says the lead roles were initially offered to better-known actors, who all turned them down, but Masters of Horror "happened to be a situation where nobody had any veto power over the material." Devised by producer Mick Garris, the series has resulted in refreshingly uninhibited work from some old pros—John Landis's Deer Woman, a goofball update of a Native American myth, and John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns, a Ring-like thriller about movie madness, also premiered in Turin and will both air on Showtime in December—though no other "master of horror" has embraced the gift of creative freedom with Dante's gusto.

To his surprise, Showtime executives didn't flinch when they received the script. "I can't conceive of any other venue where we would have been able to tell this story: You can't do theatrical political movies; people don't go to them. You can't do them on television, because you've got sponsors," he says. "Michael Moore's last picture made a lot of money, but he was vilified for it so much he's practically in hiding."

Dante hopes Homecoming functions as a wake-up call—not so much for politicians but for filmmakers. "If this spurs other people into making more and better versions, it will have done its job. I want to see more discussion," he says. "Nobody is doing anything about what's going on now—compared to the '70s, when they were making movies about the issues of the day. This elephant in the room, this Iraq war story, is not being dramatized."

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see what a fucking mess we're in," he continues. "It's been happening steadily for the past four years, and nobody said peep. The New York Times and all these people that abetted the lies and crap that went into making and selling this war—now that they see the guy is a little weak, they're kicking him with their toe to make sure he doesn't bite back. It's cowardly. This pitiful zombie movie, this fucking B movie, is the only thing anybody's done about this issue that's killed 2,000 Americans and untold numbers of Iraqis? It's fucking sick." While gratified by the warm reception to Homecoming in Turin, Dante says he's eager for the right-wing punditocracy back home to see it: "I hope this movie bothers a lot of people that disagree with it—and that it makes them really pissed off, as pissed off as the rest of us are."

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