Wednesday, July 4, 2012

He wants you Dead: Uncle Sam (1997)

Uncle Sam (1997)
starring:  William Smith, David 'Shark' Fralick and Christopher Ogden

With the Maniac Cop series, Relentless and Hit List, we can tell William Lustig's love for hybriding themes and genres from action to exploitation to horror. Though it's hard to point out whether his skills wavered during his later runs, I'm just glad to say that I can still fully respect the man who brought us the classic Maniac. This Fourth of July, I welcome you: Uncle Sam.

Let sleeping soldiers lie
It's almost the Fourth Of July weekend when little Jody Baker got the bad news: his beloved uncle Sam Harper was accidentally shot down during a friendly fire in Kuwait a few years back. Now taken to his hometown in a tin coffin, little Jody  grieved over the fact that he just lost a family member and a hero at the same time.

However, after his patriotic senses picked up disrespectful teens burning the American flag, Sam gets up from his coffin at the eve of Independence day and exacts revenge against not only the teenagers, but to draft dodgers, corrupt politicians and tax evaders of his little home town, all underneath the disguise of America's Independence day mascot, "Uncle Sam".
Pellet guns. who knew, right?
I wouldn't say Uncle Sam is that satirical, political and slasherific (the latter taking its time to happen) but in its own case, it's a cheesey ride worth seeing thanks to its twisted sense of patriotism.

*insert Stars and Stripes theme song here*
After a sweet gun kill-filled opening and a proudly patriotic montage of Uncle Sam figures, the film slows down and left us to know its characters before the bloodbath; it's a little odd and tedious seeing that there's barely anyone worth rooting for and with most of them indulged in their unpatriotic shenanigans, the film had us anticipating for demise which is delivered, of course, in its own colorful ways. Until then, we do have ourselves a bit of family drama concerning Jody's total admiration for his uncle who, as we find out later on, isn't really such a good guy at all; he's a wife beater and completely obsessed with the right-wing American honor of war, making him quite an odd duck baddie since the film clearly wanted us to root for him at some point, killing all them disrespecting teens and dipshit A-holes but after letting us knowing his little past, this made him far from being completely likable through and through.

I see more red in that Red, White and Blue.
With it's foray of B-Movie stars, you might as well see some development but sadly, Lustig’s direction is surprisingly flat and the non-horror heavy-dialogued scripting was given to the small casts of new faces instead. There's some political satire among all this, of how the idea of serving the country isn't just limited to jumping into an open fire (I'm sure of it) but it's all buried underneath once the killings starts. (which came with a clear dedication to Lucio Fulci who sadly passed away a year before this film's initial release)

Nothing of the over-the-top gore fest, the murders of Uncle Sam were more in sync to the olden days of its genre, quick and simple, yet visually delicious, with hatchets to the face, a nasty live burial and, my favorite, a flag impalement that rings true to the movie's theme.

Much like Maniac Cop 3, Uncle Sam isn't trying to take itself seriously either and isn't afraid to take a few things on a sillier side; not a single explanation was made on the dead soldier's sudden resurrection save an idea linked to a phantom leg, and its finale confirmed this even more as it features the weirdest assembly against the dead, mainly Jody, his blind handicap-turned-psychic friend and Isaac Hayes as Sam's veteran friend against an undead soldier. It's not exactly Monster Squad but it's good while it lasts.
Really wish Hayes stayed in South Park...
A little tongue-in-cheek, but the film knows it and dwells in it, Uncle Sam is a meta-satirical run on a guise of a holiday slasher, which honestly, despite it could had done better, is entertaining when it wants it to be.

2 males seen burned
1 male had his neck broken
1 male shot to death
1 male dies from burn wounds
1 male killed with garden shears
1 male buried alive in a grave
1 male hanged on a flag pole
1 male gets a hatchet to the forehead
1 male decapitated with meat cleaver
1 male shot on the head with pellet gun
1 female had her face forced into grill
1 male decimated by fireworks
1 male impaled through a flag
1 male found with throat cut
total: 15


  1. Great review! Totally agree, this was a fun and solid horror flick.

    1. classic drive-in feel. Wonder if Lustig's gonna do more...

  2. I agree - I like this one too - not a Classic with a capital "C" but a fun little flick with a lot of familiar faces in the cast.

    1. I think the term we're looking for is cult classic; seems very fitting!