Friday, December 02, 2005

Another "Homecoming" and Hitch-ing Post

JUST A REMINDER that tonight is the night Joe Dante's "Homecoming" premieres on Showtime's MASTERS OF HORROR, at 10:00 p.m. eastern. In addition to my own enthusiastic blogging about this show (see "Masters of War," November 14), the episode has received glowing advance notices from a lot of heavy hitters:

"Dante has created a political parable with genuine emotional force as well as glinting moral clarity. It is, one fervently hopes, a film whose time has come... [Of the MOH episodes to date] only 'Homecoming' has gone beyond the series' mandate. Joe Dante hasn't simply seized the opportunity to offer a bit more sex and violence than the system generally allows. He's opened a door and walked through it, with the contagious joy of a suddenly free man." -- Dave Kehr,

"The dizzying high point of Showtime's new Masters of Horror series... At once galvanic and cathartic, Dante's film uncorks the rage that despondent progressives promptly suppressed after last year's election and that has only recently been allowed to color mainstream coverage of presidential untruths and debacles. For all its broad, bludgeoning satire, 'Homecoming' is deadly accurate in skewering the callousness and hypocrisy of the Bush White House and the spin industry in its orbit." -- Dennis Lim, The Village Voice

"Six weeks in, [MASTERS OF HORROR has] been a mixed bag — [Tobe] Hooper’s stank, and Don Coscarelli’s was amusing if not exactly scary — but this Friday the series unveils a real doozy: Joe Dante’s wry and uncompromising zombie satire 'Homecoming'." -- The LA Weekly

"The way in which Dante and [screenwriter Sam] Hamm keep the story twists coming, never losing steam or running in place thematically or dramatically, is kind of breathtaking... For the second year in a row, a satirical zombie project stacks up as the year’s best horror production; here’s hoping someone in Hollywood notices, and gives Dante a shot at a feature which will show off the skills that, on this evidence, are only becoming sharper with time." -- Michael Gingold, (4-skull review)

If these blurbs (and my past blogs on the series) haven't persuaded you to sign up for Showtime yet, I understand that Showtime is conveniently hosting a Free Preview weekend in some, if not all, areas, so now you have no excuse not to check it out. (As long as you're living in the United States, that is.) I've already seen "Homecoming" once, on an advance disc that Joe kindly sent to me, but I'm psyched to see it tonight in hi-def.

Incidentally, Steve Bissette's Myrant blog today concludes a two-part article about "Homecoming" and its precedents in film, well worth reading.

BRAD STEVENS, OCCASIONAL VW contributor and the author of Monte Hellman - His Life and Films, has written to Video WatchBlog: "Re. your comments about the French disc of Hitchcock's THE RING running 85m 35s. I feel it's worth pointing out that the version of this film released in the UK by BFI Video in 1999 clocked in at 109m 22s!"

Brad feels that the additional length is due to variable projection speeds but adds that the BFI Video release is "absolutely gorgeous."

This reminds me of the one-and-only time to date I've ever seen Hitchcock's THE LODGER, as an early videocassette release from a company called, I think, Video Yesteryear. They slowed the film's projection speed to such an extent that the movie actually looked like a dream unfolding... and consequently, very nearly put me to sleep. It's put me off ever seeing THE LODGER again, though I realize I need to get over it and give the movie a proper chance.

ANOTHER CORRESPONDENT, DAN Gosse, wrote to inquire how I had arrived at the total of 53 Hitchcock features. The laziest way imaginable, actually -- by remembering an old promotional still released at the time of FAMILY PLOT, which showed Hitch posing paternally with a row of numbered film cans, ending with #53, FAMILY PLOT. Of course, since then, other works have come to light (notably several wartime shorts), but it's on that photo I based my number. I assumed it was accurate, but Mr. Gosse submitted a filmography that lists 59 films (including shorts), asking which six titles I may have omitted from my number.

In looking over his list, I can see some tempting candidates for omission at the time that photo was taken: ALWAYS TELL YOUR WIFE (1923, direction credited to Hugh Croise), MARY (SIR JOHN GREIFT EIN!; 1930, the German version of MURDER); ELSTREE CALLING (parts only, also 1930), and certainly a number of shorts, including another 1930 title, AN ELASTIC AFFAIR. Hitchcock's lost film, THE MOUNTAIN EAGLE, may also have been scratched from the list, and Hitch himself may well have disowned one or two others -- who knows? Then again, it may simply have been a matter of Universal being careless at their abacus. At any rate, excluding the shorts and the shared directorial credits, Dan's filmography shapes up to be 54 Hitchcock features by my own count... with the missing title likely being the German version of MURDER. My thanks to Dan for bringing this discrepancy to my attention.

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