Friday, October 9, 2009

Month of Horror - Day Eight: Joe Dante's Homecoming

"Holy Mother of Hip-Hop Jesus"

My second favorite place in the world is the Castro Theater in San Francisco. It's the city's 100th historical landmark and features beautiful architecture and live wurlitzer music. It was there that I first saw The Taking of Pelham One Two Three when they screened it on a double-bill with Network. Some of the best film-going experiences have been at the Castro. This is where Midnites for Maniacs marathons are held, including the 12-hour "Animals Attacking Humans" 5-film extravaganza. I volunteered for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival more than a couple times, during which I met famed film critic Leonard Maltin. The Castro will always hold a special place in my movie-loving heart.

I'll never forget the day my future wife and I hopped on a bus to catch a Saturday morning double feature: Gremlins 2 and Matinee. As much as I love the Gremlins movies, Matinee is one of my favorites of all time. Getting the chance to see it on the big screen was a rare opportunity. Getting the chance to meet Joe Dante was an even more rare opportunity. After the first film ended, I ran into the director in the lobby. There, we talked about Matinee and a number of his other films. It was awesome. I'm easily starstruck to begin with, but to really get to talk to one of my favorite filmmakers made my year.

Positive reviews for Dante's next film, The Hole, made me excited to see what he'd been working on for the past few years. That's when I discovered Homecoming, a film he directed for the Masters of Horror series. Here's the plot in a nutshell, America's recently deceased veterans aren't too happy with how their country's being run so they decide to come back and change things up--by voting. The zombies don't eat brains, they don't kill the innocents, they just stand in line like everyone else until they cast their ballots.

Let's get one point out of the way early, this film is less subtle than Crash. It's got a point to make and it's going to make it, no matter what. If you want to find out that point, you'll have to watch the movie...or rememer that Joe Dante is not Kelsey Grammer, Hollywood's only conservative.

Themes aside, let's get down to the hunky-gory. Zombies usually bring quite a bit of the old bloodguts but in this case, more violence happens to the undead than the living. Shame. Their legs are blown off, their bodies are shattered across car hoods, and even worse, their voting rights are in jeopardy. These Masters of Horror films are pretty hit and miss and this one is unfortunately is one of the latter. Instead of bashing on a lesser piece from (did I mention he was one of my favorite directors) Dante, I'd rather take this time to remember the brilliance.

Note: My favorite place in the world is Amoema Music on Haight


Jonny said...


The Castro is amazing. I just feel at home there. Probably my favorite theater in the world.

I've been to a few Midnites For Maniacs as well -- they're so much fun. One of my favorites was a "90s Back to School" triple feature consisting of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Romeo and Juliet, and Starship Troopers. In between the films, Jesse Hicks went on a huge diatribe about how misunderstand and underrated Paul Verhoeven is. It ignited a huge discussion that lots of people took part in in the audience. Pretty cool.

elgringo said...

My favorite Midnites for Maniacs had to be the Animals Attacking Humans marathon. Phase IV, Alligator, Jaws, Day of the Animals, Pihrana 2: The Spawning. Absolutely amazing. Also, Whitney has quite a crush on Jesse.