The high point of Showtime’s “Masters of Horror” series, Joe Dante’s hour-long
Homecoming is one of the most important political films of the Bush II era, a galvanic, cathartic blast of liberal-left fury with an ingenious agitprop premise: In an election year, dead veterans of the current conflict crawl out of their graves and stagger single-mindedly to voting booths so they can eject the president who sent them to fight a war sold on “horseshit and elbow grease.” With its only slightly caricatured right-wingers, the film nails the casual fraudulence and contortionist rhetoric that are the signatures of the Bush-Cheney administration. How fitting that the most pungent artistic response to a regime famed for its crass fear-mongering would be a cheap horror movie. Zombie flicks, with their built-in return-of-the-repressed theme, have always served as allegories of their sociopolitical moments. But Homecoming, jaw-dropping in its sheer directness, casts aside metaphor—it derives its power from its disconcerting literalness. The zombies do not represent—but are—the unseen costs of this futile war. Implicit in the film’s unapologetic bluntness is a sickened urgency, an insistence that this is no time for subtlety.