[OPE-L] Zombies Attack George W. Bush

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Tue Dec 06 2005 - 10:26:32 EST

We've talked about vampires and ghosts, why not zombies?  This post
came via the  'nticapdiscuss'yahoo group.  Is it time yet
for a working class -- zombie alliance? / In solidarity, Jerry

Zombies Attack George Bush Joe Dante's brilliant anti-war horror show.

 By Grady Hendrix
 Posted Friday, Dec. 2, 2005, at 4:05 PM ET

 Just when things looked like they couldn't get any
 worse for President Bush, here come the zombies to vote
 him out of office. They arrive courtesy of Joe Dante's
 Homecoming, a one-hour movie made for Showtime's
 "Masters of Horror" series that airs tonight and
 tomorrow and will be rebroadcast throughout December.

 One part satire of soulless Beltway insiders, one part
 gut-crunching horror flick, Homecoming kicks off when
 the flag-draped coffins of soldiers killed in Iraq
 burst open and the reanimated corpses of dead veterans
 hit the streets, searching for polling places where
 they can pull the lever for "anyone who will end this
 evil war."

 The mandate for Showtime's "Masters of Horror" series
 was to give one-hour slots to name-brand shock auteurs
 such as Takashi Miike and John Carpenter, granting them
 total artistic control in exchange for low budgets. So
 far, most of the directors have squandered their
 creative carte blanche on extra boobs and more blood,
 but Joe Dante has elected to do something actually
 terrifying: engage with the real world.

 His characters seem like people we've just watched on
 MSNBC. There's David Murch, a political consultant for
 an unnamed Republican president who sounds exactly like
 President Bush. His new girlfriend, Jane Cleaver, is a
 bullying pundit cloned from Ann Coulter's DNA. There's
 also a James Carville look-alike and a Jerry Falwell
 doppelgänger, complete with quivering jowls. Dante
 delivers the thrill of watching familiar figures spin
 the issues and dole out doublespeak, yet he doesn't
 stint on the satisfaction of seeing them have their
 brains eaten afterwards. He's the first horror director
 to take the bits of media flotsam and jetsam that have
 been drifting around--the flag-draped coffins at Dover
 Air Force Base, the talking-head cable shows, the
 internment camps, the Ohio and Florida recounts, the
 "Mission Accomplished" banners--and make something
 electrifying out of them.

 It's almost impossible to write about horror movies
 without playing amateur sociologist, especially when
 zombies are involved. Since 9/11, artists and writers
 of popular culture seem the most willing to cope with
 current events, and they've disgorged an unstoppable
 series of zombie movies: 28 Days Later, Dawn of the
 Dead, Land of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, not to
 mention the book The Zombie Survival Guide and the
 comic-book series "The Walking Dead," among others.

 Horror is cheap and disposable. It has to figure out
 what scares you and throw it up on the screen (or down
 on the page) fast--there's no time to cover its tracks.
 But why all the zombies? Zombie movies have always been
 the richest in subtext, whether it's the cartoonish
 class warfare of Land of the Dead or the anti-Vietnam-
 war message of 1974's Deathdream. Today, zombies are
 the perfect metaphor for our soldiers in Iraq: They're
 shell-shocked, anonymous, and aren't asked to make very
 many decisions. Unless you personally know a soldier,
 the war in Iraq has been a zombie war, fought by an
 uncomplaining, faceless mass wrapped in desert camo and
 called "our boys." We talk about them all the time--
 supporting them, criticizing them, speaking for them--
 but we don't really have a clue as to what's on their
 minds. They often seem like disposable units sent to
 enforce the will of our country. But what if they come
 back and they're different? What if they come back and
 don't want to follow orders anymore?

 What's shocking about Dante's Homecoming is that he
 dispenses with the usual horror subtext completely.
 Pundits go on TV to defend the living dead's right to
 vote until they find out they're not voting Republican.
 Zombies rise from the grave, wrapped in the American
 flag. There's even a Cindy Sheehan stand-in with a
 zombie son. Nothing is too recent or too raw. Dante has
 always had an ax to grind -- his film Small Soldiers
 was an anti-violence carnival of killer toys and even
 the lovable Gremlins had an anti-consumption message.
 But Homecoming is on another level of guilty pleasures,
 a junk-food adrenaline rush that debunks the myth of
 glorious war, presenting every ugly wound in gory latex
 detail, while having nothing but compassion for the
 lonely, lurching, living-dead soldiers.

 While Dante's film will no doubt raise hackles, my
 guess is that most members of the military would get a
 kick out of this flick that praises the troops in Iraq
 while offering up the politicians and pundits who sent
 them there as finger food for the undead. Some big
 brains have tried to make a statement about the war in
 Iraq, and every single one of them should be standing
 in line, heads hung low, waiting to get their artistic
 licenses revoked. Who would've thought that where
 Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11), Sam Mendes (Jarhead),
 and Steven Bochco (Over There) got it so wrong, the
 director of Looney Tunes: Back in Action would have
 gotten it so right?

 Grady Hendrix, a New York writer, runs the New York
 Asian Film Festival.

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