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I've been threatening to do this for a while now and I suppose it is time. Despite me swearing that I'd never force myself to sit th...

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Uncle Sam (1996)

Time to be honest with you the readers. I thought that I had already covered this one for the website, but it turns out that I haven’t. With the 4th of July just past I figured it was about time that I talk a bit about Uncle Sam, the most patriotic of slasher flicks.

A young boy named Jody idolizes his dead uncle for his military service. Of course, his uncle was named Sam, so the title works in a couple of ways. Year after being killed in the Gulf War his body is found and returned home. The chopper that Sam piloted was shot down by friendly fire, which may be why he comes back to life. Not sure about that. But the important thing is that Sam climbs out of his coffin and decides to punish those unpatriotic locals by killing them. But then he also starts randomly killing people too. Who the heck really cares since this is about his zombie looking butt dressing up as Uncle Sam and going on a killing spree. Eventually Jody sees the truth and with the help of a veteran, played by Isaac Hayes, he puts an end to things.

This is a solidly made and fun flick. The story is paced evenly with enough kills spaced out to keep things rolling along. The characters are decent despite the script being a bit weak. They never explain the how and why of Sam’s return which might have made the movie all the more entertaining. I get that this is about a zombified killer and isn’t based in reality, but I like my horror flicks to have rules I can predict. Though the filmmakers make the brilliant decision of filling the cast out with some awesome character actors that I think make up for the deficiencies in the plot.

I’ve already mentioned Isaac Hayes, who has a decent role. But we also get the likes of William Smith, Bo Hopkins, Timothy Bottoms, P.J. Soles, and the amazing Robert Forster in small parts. Though each of them is given something fun to do whether it is dropping some great lines or getting a cool death scene. I’m not too surprised since this is directed by William Lustig from a script by Larry Cohen. Just read thru the names I mentioned. These actors, writers, and director are responsible for some of my favorite movies. Though if I’m going to be completely honest, and I always am, this is also a bit disappointing. While I dig it this could have been a top-notch horror flick if they had spent just a bit more time polishing the script.

The kills are rather tame, but fun. There is a snapped neck, a face on a grill, some handgun action, some cannon action, and some garden shear action. Though my favorite kills are the patriotic themed death by flagpole thru the chest and the fireworks explosion! The movie tends to pull away from the good stuff so don’t set your expectations too high. But then this was the mid to late nineties, so the days of in-your-face gore hadn’t returned yet.

Uncle Sam is a frustrating flick. It could have been an excellent last hurrah from some killer actors and one of the best director/writer duos of the eighties. Instead, it comes off more as a neutered not quite as good as what came before horror movie that sadly fits in with most of what that decade of meh (aka. the nineties) gave us. There is some fun here but also many missed opportunities. If you haven’t seen this one then give it a chance, just manage your expectations.

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

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