It probably sounds odd that I was disappointed in a movie about a Gulf War veteran that comes back to his home town, dresses up like Uncle Sam, and starts slaughtering the unpatriotic, but I was. I knew this wasn’t going to be very good, but I thought it had potential for some great manic comic horror. I wanted Uncle Sam to kill off people in increasingly imaginative, patriotic/military-inspired ways. I wanted Isaac Hayes to strut around like he’d just come off a blaxploitation movie and go all Dolemite on some hippies. But none of that really happened. Instead we have a whiny boy spouting off neo-conservative dogma his Uncle Sam taught him, Isaac Hayes limping around as a broken, bitter Korean War vet, and a whole town of unlikable people.
I’m not sure if the filmmakers took this movie too seriously, too timid, or they didn’t understand that the only way to make it successful was by being way over the top, but whatever the reason, Uncle Sam just comes off as bland. The concept in and of itself is ridiculous, but they never play it up enough. Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhies would laugh their masks off if they saw the tepid, unimaginative ways that Uncle Sam dispatches his victims.
And then there’s the matter of the mixed messages. Good horror movies work off some kind of rule set, often related to American Puritanical values. Michael, Jason, and Freddie always kill the kids that use the drugs or have the sex (as my grandmother would say) and in doing so they would subconsciously reinforce good, wholesome American values. Uncle Sam stalks those he sees as unpatriotic—the draft dodgers, the tax cheats, the crooked politicians, and so on. His views are parroted by his nephew and they are constantly rebutted by his mother and aunt. The movie tries to denounce Sam’s extreme views while at the same time glorifying them, almost like the filmmakers didn’t quite know which way they wanted to go. It’s hard to tell if they denounce Sam and his values or not-so-secretly support them.
That’s probably a far more in-depth analysis than this movie deserves, but those were issues that stuck with me while I watched the movie and pretty much the only enjoyment I took from Uncle Sam was that conundrum. And even then I almost fell asleep watching. I don’t expect a lot from a movie like this, but I at least want some entertainment. Sadly, there was none to be found here.
The movie was presented in Widescreen 2.35:1 in 1080p HD Resolution. The audio tracks were in English 7.1 DTS-HD and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. English, French, and Spanish subtitles were provided for the hearing impaired and non-English speakers. As for the quality, this was a low-budget movie, and the Blu-ray treatment really doesn’t help it much. There were no great problems with the video or audio, but they certainly weren’t top-notch.
There were plenty of extras for this feature, but none of them are worth watching. The audio commentaries have some good moments, but not enough to warrant slogging through the rest to get to them. The feature on the fire stunts was interesting, but honestly, you’ve seen one behind-the-scenes feature on fire stunts you’ve pretty much seen them all. I will say that the trailer did make the movie look better than it was. I’d skip these unless you’re just a hardcore extras junkie.
Audio Commentary #1 with Director William Lustig, Writer Larry Cohen, and Producer George G. Braunstein
Audio Commentary #2 with Director William Lustig and Star Isaac Hayes
Fire Stunts with Audio Commentary by Stunt Coordinator Spiro Razatos
Poster & Still Galleries
This movie could have been a lot more fun than it was if the people involved had gone all out, but, as it stands, this is a tepid, uninspired horror flick without even camp value. Not recommended.
Blue Underground presents Uncle Sam. Directed by: William Lustig. Starring: Bo Hopkins, Timothy Bottoms, Robert Forster, P.J. Soles, William Smith, David “Shark” Fralick, and Isaac Hayes. Written by: Larry Cohen. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: June 29, 2010.