Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Movie Review: "Uncle Sam" (1996)

Uncle Sam 1996 horror movie poster
Image Source
Movie"Uncle Sam"
Director: William Lustig
Year: 1996
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

A soldier killed by friendly fire in Operation Desert Storm has his body returned to his hometown. After he is buried, he comes back to life to take vengeance on those who act in an unpatriotic manner.

Uncle Sam 1996 movie still
"It must be awful lonely being dead." (Image Source)
If you ever wondered what jingoism and faux patriotism would look like if it were a living, breathing thing, "Uncle Sam" is a good place to start. This film is directed by William Lustig, who is known for directing other horror features like "Maniac," "Maniac Cop," "Maniac Cop 2," and, you guessed it, "Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence." It is written by Larry Cohen, who has worked on movies like "It's Alive," "Phone Booth" and the aforementioned "Maniac Cop" series. The story revolves around a young boy named Jody Baker (Christopher Ogden), who idolizes his uncle Sam (David 'Shark' Fralick) more than anyone else in the world. Sam was a soldier that was recently killed in action by friendly fire while serving in Operation Desert Storm. Jody thinks his uncle is a hero, but the fact of the matter is that he was a violent psychopath who abused the women closest to him. When Sam's body is shipped back to his hometown, his reign of terror has not come to an end as he rises from the grave to not only go after his wife (who has lived in fear of her husband their entire relationship) but to kill anyone who disrespects the symbols of America.
Uncle Sam 1996 movie still
"I'll do whatever the president says to do because he knows better." (Image Source)
"Uncle Sam" is a tongue-in-cheek supernatural slasher film. It is reminiscent of a lot of other straight-to-video flicks that came out in the mid-90's to early 2000's, movies like "Jack Frost" or "Scarecrow." It has a goofy concept about a ghostly killer dressed in an Uncle Sam costume just so the Fourth of July holiday can have its very own slasher flick. This is not a well-written movie. The film's protagonist, Jody, is a superfluous character who gets little to nothing to do. His only purpose is so the antagonist is an actual uncle Sam, not just an antagonist dressed like Uncle Sam. Another odd, pointless, and bafflingly absurd character is Barry (Zachary McLemore), a young boy and friend (we think, kind of???) of Jody's who was burned by fireworks and is now blind and bound to a wheelchair. He has an inexplicable link with Sam, and at one point, shares an awkward and uncomfortable moment as Sam caresses his face and tells him his plans. Legit shivers down your spine creepiness, not just passive, shoulder-shrugging cringes.
Uncle Sam 1996 movie still
"People who don't respect the American way of life deserve to get their butts kicked." (Image Source)
Though the story makes little to no sense, we'd be lying if we said we hated "Uncle Sam." There are a handful of ridiculously fun kills that made us laugh, so in that respect, this movie did its job. It is sooooooo so so cheesy and is insanely poorly acted, but it has a few stupid lines that may make you laugh. Unfortunately, this camp factor isn't present in enough of its runtime. There are multiple times where it feels like it is taking itself far too seriously, especially when Jody's mom and Sam's sister go into their pasts or talk about conscientious objections to the war in Vietnam. It seems like it wants to have hard-hitting ideas wrapped in a stupid Uncle Sam costume, and to us, it should have picked one or the other. In the end, this flick is pretty damn dumb, but you have to weigh the bad with the good. After all, Sam comes back to life when he feels the disrespect, from the grave mind you, being done to the American flag by a bunch of Nazi teenagers who are burning it on top of his headstone. You can't make that shit up.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.3/10
RT Rating: 56%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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