Posts Tagged ‘showtime’

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When There’s No Room Left In Hell, The Dead Will Walk The Earth… To Vote! — Masters of Horror: Homecoming

November 17, 2008

MASTERS OF HORROR: HOMECOMING (2005)
d. Joe Dante 

Not as bad as most of the episodes of this Showtime series, Homecoming manages to get a few good laughs with its broad satirical swipe at the Bush administration and its failing War on Terror.

Set on the eve of the 2004 Presidential Election, David Murch, a republican spin doctor inadvertently pulls a page out of the Liar, Liar book and makes a wish that goes horribly wrong. He wishes that the soldiers stationed abroad could come home, and come home they do despite having been killed in battle. And in a great twist on the zombie genre, instead of coming home to feast on brains, the undead have returned to vote against the reigning administration.

Joe Dante, known for The Howling and his segment from Twilight Zone: The Movie does a good job of keeping the satire broad and brisk, even staging scenes like horror films from the 50s to pay homage to its b-movie roots. The script is a little flat-footed with a lot of narration filling in for ellipses in time and feeding us explanations of what’s happening, but it offers some good scenes (between Murch and his mom at the cemetary) and some schmaltzy ones that are actually touching if corny (the undead soldier being sheltered in the cafe by the kindly couple).

And look for the names of movie directors of the undead in Arlington Cemetery when zombies erupt from their graves. Nice touch!

At an hour, it works fine, even if the gag is given away early in the game and there are few surprises at the end.

**1/2

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No Life In This Dead Dog: Masters of Horror: Haeckel’s Tale

November 14, 2008

MASTERS OF HORROR: HAECKEL’S TALE (2006)
d. John McNaughton 

This short is another Masters of Horror episode that starts strong and ends weakly, and I blame the 1-hour limit. It’s fairly typical for all of the episodes in this Showtime series to follow this trend where the ending is not entirely surprising and feels rushed.

Haeckel’s Tale, based on a Clive Barker short story, tells about a young man visiting a necromancer with the petition to raise his just-died beloved from the grave. The necromancer warns him against this, initially refusing his request; however, he is persistent. Relenting, she agrees to do his bidding if he listens to her cautionary tale, and if he still desires his loved one, then she will perform the resurrection.

In the tale she tells, Haeckel is a physician who is skeptical of religion and the mystic arts and boasts that he can reanimate dead flesh. When he attempts to recreate Frankenstein’s experiment and fails, he stumbles across a peasant’s vouching of a Dr. Montesquino (Jon Polito, always fun to watch) and his ability to resurrect the dead. Intrigued but still doubtful, Haeckel watches the Dr. reanimate a dead dog, but still doesn’t believe it. He tries to learn the method, but cannot persuade the doctor to give up his secrets. Haeckel then receives word that his father’s health has turned for the worse and must return home.

On his way home, he is given shelter by a kindly middle-aged man and his gorgeous young wife, Elise. Unable to keep his eyes of Elise, Haeckel notices her weird behavior — always glancing out the window longingly, and feeling herself up. While trying to catch some sleep, he sees the husband pay Dr. Montesquino and Elise leaves the hovel for the nearby necropolis for an illicit rendezvous with her 1st husband who is a decaying zombie where they engage in some naughty love-making whilst other zombies watch.

Needless to say, this reveal is hardly surprising, as it is telegraphed early. And while the writing is fairly strong and compelling in the first act, it steadily falls off and ends with a final twist that is unsuccessful. The only thing to look for is the lead actress’s topless zombie love-making scenes, and the husband being fed upon and torn apart by zombies.

I have been disappointed with most of the Masters of Horror episodes, feeling that it is more hype than substance despite some good actors in roles and some good premises. Anyway, ** stars.

Next up, either another Masters of Horror episode, Joe Dante’s Homecoming, or Aeon Flux.