By Andrew Frisicano
These days, voting is more a parody than a democratic process. It doesn’t really matter which candidate you vote for: life in the middle class will keep on just the same. For some people, though-those barely scraping by on minimum wage, those with chronic health problems and no health care, and those in the military-the choices made on Election Day hold immense importance. And for some, it’s already too late. This election is a few years late for the nearly 3,000 American soldiers who’ve died in Iraq . And what if they could come back and vote?
Homecoming— a tele-play, first shown in 2005 as an episode of the “Masters of Horror” series, now on DVD—addresses this issue, and all its zombie-filled implications. The plot revolves around David Murdoch, a conservative publicity protégé, who, in a moment of temporary compassion, wishes the fallen veterans of the unnamed ongoing military engagement back to life. His cadre of political propagandists, including an Ann Coulter look-a-like, a Karl Rove body double, and a smooth-talking president that “has a way of making stupid people feel as if they’re just as smart as him.” Of course, traditionally having the military vote in their pocket, they assume the undead veterans will vote to “stay the course” and keep them in power. Predictably, it doesn’t play out like that. The zombies start talking-yes, talking. And what they say has to do more with “dying for a lie” than the “supporting our troops” BS our hero pushes.
It’s not the first time the dead from a pointless war have come back on celluloid to wreak havoc. French director Abel Gance’s 1938 production “J’accuse” brings back the Word War I dead on the eve of World War II to remind Europe of the horrors of war. 1974’s “Dead of Night” puts a slightly more personal spin on the zombie-veteran genre. In the film, a young soldier killed during Vietnam is brought back by his mother’s wish; however, when the reincarnated soldier shows up at home, it’s evident that he’s different. “Dead of Night” addresses the lasting alienation and dehumanization of Vietnam vets, the largely undocumented casualties of U.S. military policy.
The zombie veterans, wish as we might for them to give military opportunism its gory comeuppance, are more concerned with their constitutional rights than dismemberment and brain feasts. The horror and comedy are often downplayed by moments of touching sincerity, with surprising success. Sure, there are cheesy moments, but the humanity of the undead and their grieving families is never lost.
The message, that Election Day decisions affect real people, that somebody just might care about voting, resonates. In short, if we’re not going to make the effort this November 7th, we might be seeing some upturned grave stones.