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March 30, 2011

Movie Review: Uncle Sam (1997, Blu-ray, Blue Underground)

Blue Underground brings head honcho's Bill Lustig patriotic horror flick to Blu-ray. IT WANTS YOU...TO WATCH!

Buy Uncle Sam on Blu-ray or DVD

Film: 1.5/5

I love Bill Lustig flicks. The New York born director has made some highly entertaining and memorable films. Maniac Cop and it's sequels are a blast. Vigilante is a straight up badass revenge outing. And lastly Maniac is a without a doubt his crowning achievement, a film that truly makes me feel grimy . However I can't say the same for Uncle Sam.

We open up in Kuwait, sometime during the Gulf War. A downed helicopter is found burned along with it's crew. Supposedly shot down by "friendly fire", charred solider Sam Harper kills the investigating Army team before dying. Sam is shipped back in a coffin to his home town Twin Rivers, much to his family's dismay. Turns out Sam was an abusive husband and a piece of shit brother. Only person he supposedly didn't treat like garbage was his sisters son, Jody. Jody idolizes Sam and wants to enlist in the Army as soon as he can. Meanwhile, the July 4th parade is gearing up and a good portion of the town is unpatriotic. Kids burning flags, dirty politicians and other un-American traits cause Sam to rise from the coffin to commence a killing spree. Oddness and boredom ensues.

Uncle Sam has all the ingredients to be a fun slasher and it does in job in some aspects. My main gripe is that nothing really happens. Lustig and co-writer Larry (The Stuff, 'nuff said) Cohen set up an interesting story that should be a blast to watch. Unfortunately it plays out as if the Lifetime Channel made a horror flick. You have to sit through a bunch of drama that is completely uninteresting. It's even more of a bore when the story is centered around people that are extremely annoying and unlikeable. When the killing finally starts, it's pretty underwhelming and goofy.

Not all is lost though. There are some inspired kills, it'll just leave you with a been there done that feeling. Issac (Truck Turner) Hayes plays a Vietnam vet who assists in trying to kill Uncle Sam. It's always great seeing the late great Hayes, as hammy as it is. PJ Soles (Halloween) has a bit part as the mother of a kid who fucked his face up with fireworks and has a weird connection with the killer. Sam "touched him" and all the sudden he has a telepathic link with Sam, it's pretty damn funny. Uncle Sam is definitely a major weak point in Lustig's filmography. If the prolonged drama had been cut and killing has been amped up  I'd have been satisfied. It's still something to see, just don't expect to be blown away by a murderous Uncle Sam.

Blu-ray: 3/5

* Widescreen 2.35:1 - Remastered HD Transfer
Uncle Sam slashes on to BD with a serviceable presentation. Detail is nice, HD reveals some bad FX work but that's expected. Not Blue Underground's best Blu-ray but still a fine transfer.

* 7.1 DTS-HD & 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
Audio is fine. Dialogue is clear and the patriotic mayhem is heard in it's glory. Doesn't pack the biggest punch, but this isn't a Michael Bay movie.

Bonus Features: 3/5 

* Audio Commentary w/ Lustig, Cohen & Producer George Braunstein

* Audio Commentary w/ Lustig & Issac Hayes

* "Fire Stunts" Featurette-Optional Commentary w/ Stunt Coordinator Spiro Razatos

* Deleted Scene 

* Gag Reel

* Theatrical Trailer * Poster & Still Gallery

Uncle Sam isn't the red, white and gore slash fest your hoping for. Bogged down useless drama, it's still worth a watch, but I strongly recommend watching Lustig's other kickass flicks afterward.

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