The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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State of the Undead Union.

December 1st, 2005 · No Comments · Art, Movies, Politics

When it comes to monsters, it’s a pretty rough time to be a Republican and an exceptionally GOOD time to be a zombie. Yes, while our friends in the Grand Old Party blubber and stumble through scandal after scandal, the renaissance in zombism continues to move ahead at full speed.

On the heels of Katrina, George Romero’s Land of the Dead takes on impressive resonance. A class warfare tale about poor masses left to suffer and die in the wake of disaster while bloated plutocrats enjoy lives of decadent detachment, the “message” of LotD seemed like quaint, left-wing do-goodery when it first hit theatres. Now, it seems downright precient. This latest entry in Romero’s epic “Dead” series was received luke-warmly at the US box office, but did big business abroad and is raking in the dough on DVD. The result? George has been given the go-ahead for a sequel.

This time, Romero is eschewing subtlety when it comes to the “message” of the film (tentatively titled Road of the Dead ). Sick of the bourgeois fat-cats and mindless zombies that have taken over America, our heroes pack up and move to Canada. GET IT? Ham-handed though it may be, it’s a testament to the flexibility and ease with which horror can be used a vehicle for socio-political commentary. And - of course - word of the new film is music to the ears of Romero fans - who are used to waiting DECADES between installments.

But Road of the Dead is still a long way off and we’ve more immediate films to consider. Films like the made-for-Showtime offering Homecoming. Part of Showtime’s “Masters of Horror” series, Homecoming is directed by Joe Dante - of Gremlins fame - and if you think Romero likes his gore with a healthy side of commentary, Dante puts him to shame.

At a recent screening at the annual film festival in Turin, Italy (a town long known for its love of the risen dead), Homecoming received a five minute standing ovation. The Village Voice calls it “easily one of the most important political films of the Bush II era.”

Why all the fuss over a made-for-TV gore flic that was filmed in a mere 10 days with no budget to speak of? More from the Village Voice:

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.”

[The film's Karl Rove figure's] glib, duplicitous condescension is apparently what triggers the zombie uprising: Confronting an angry mother of a dead soldier on a news talk show, he tells this Cindy Sheehan figure, “If I had one wish . . . I would wish for your son to come back,” so he could assure the country of the importance of the war. The boy does return, along with legions of fallen combatants, and they all beg to differ.

As if in defiance of the Pentagon’s policy to ban photographs of dead soldiers’ coffins, Dante’s film shows not just the flag-draped caskets at Dover Air Force Base but their irate occupants bursting out of them.

[Joe Dante:] “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.”

How bad is it when it’s not the zombies that scare us, but the facts?


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