Horror Movie Review: Uncle Sam (1996)

Billed as a ‘comedy slasher’ film, Uncle Sam was directed by William Lustig and written by Larry Cohen. Looking like it might be a bit of a 90’s hidden gem, the firework explosion expected ends up being nothing more than a damp fizzle and pop.

Uncle Sam has a lot of problems. From poor acting to nonsensical plot developments, it’s not funny and most frustratingly of all, it’s just not crazy enough.

Beginning in Kuwait, where an American military helicopter is found, seemingly downed by friendly fire. One of the victims inside is Master Sergeant Sam Harper (David Fralick) who isn’t quite dead. Springing to life to kill the soldiers checking over him, before seemingly slumping back and dying for real this time.

In the wholesome American town of Twin Rivers, Independence Day is right around the corner. The perfect time for Sam’s wife Louise (Anne Tremko) to be told of her husband’s demise and to be given custody of his remains.

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Sam’s casket is left in the home of his sister, Sally (Leslie Neale) until they can bury him. Which wouldn’t normally be a problem except her son, Jody (Christopher Ogden) idolised Sam. Why is that a problem? Well, it turns out that Sam was not a good guy and only became a solider so he could kill people. He also abused his wife and his sister, both doing their utmost to protect Jody from the truth.

It doesn’t matter what they say though, Jody knows Sam was a true American hero.

So, what does a true American hero do on the Fourth of July? Reanimate (for reasons that are never explained), don the most absurdly creepy Uncle Sam costume ever and set about killing those who disrespect ‘Merica.

It sounds like it should be a lot of fun. Over the top, silly, filled with wise-cracks and nods to the absurdity of blind patriotism. Yet, Uncle Sam delivers none of this, even with a high body count.

The story is a mess. From the ‘friendly fire’ angle that kills Sam, to his puzzling reanimation, to the hilariously random introduction of a blind kid that has psychic abilities/super senses, to the notion that the town would continue their celebrations after several bodies have been found. Uncle Sam doesn’t just ask you to unchain your brain, it demands you rip it out and toss it in the trash.

It might just be possible to overlook some of these problems if the film made up for it elsewhere but it just doesn’t. It takes itself so seriously but without a strong enough cast to make the supposed impactful moments have impact. It’s downright boring, many kills are not shown on screen and it all feels toothless. This should have been a ‘balls out’ ride of absurdity. A wise-cracking killer, a kid who could hold his own, over the top blood, guts and gore and a gleeful amount of panache. Instead, it’s just a below average slasher with one of the most nonsensical stories of the 90s.




Uncle Sam (1996)
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