Monday, July 7, 2014

4th of Joy?: Uncle Sam (1996)

Technical issues delayed this review, but I'll be damned if I put this movie off for another year.  Today's film is Uncle Sam, a movie that I have avoided for many reasons.  The main reason: it is too obvious.  I mean, think about it- 4th of July = Uncle Sam.  Too easy, you know?  Well, I'm going to put it off no longer.  Even though this Review will be up after July 4th, I'm still American and this is still a pretty notable (albeit Cult) film.  The movie tells the tale of a crazy, burned up man that kills people.  Unlike that other crazy, burned up man that kills people, this one does NOT do it in their dreams.  Instead, he dons the garish costume of a wartime piece of pop art gone awry.  There is more craziness beneath the surface here though.  The Writer- Larry Cohen.  This is the man that gave us killer babies and the film about a man who filmed a murder...and then made a film about someone else committing said murder.  Seriously, Special Effects is crazy!  This is also the final film (so far) Directed by William Lustig, the man behind Maniac and Maniac Cop.  Three Films about a scarred Cop and one about a scarred Soldier- I sense a pattern.  Don't cry for Mr. Lustig though- he runs Blue Underground (who also released this film on DVD).  Is this film a Cult Hit worth notice or a silly, silly film?  To find out, read on...
A Soldier is found in the burned up wreckage of his Helicopter by this young Soldier and William Smith (one of the most prevalent 'That Guy From That Thing' Actors of the 70s and 80s).  However, he kills them both (aw!)...
...and is brought back to the United States- just in time for July 4th (unlike this Review).  His widow is...happy?  His nephew is however, so that makes things alright.
With the body back in town, we now begin the 'Set up why Uncle Sam Will Kill People' Scenes.  Notable amongst them is future (as this is 1996) George W. Bush impersonator Timothy Bottoms.  He plays a guy who dodged the Draft, which is totally not ironic in hindsight.

I bet you thought his most patriotic film was DC 9/11: Time of Crisis.
'Chef' is here, proving that he can be in a better Horror Film than Return to Sleepaway Camp.  Hi, Children!
Future victims include Drunk Teens who burn American flags in a Cemetery, a perverted Uncle Sam on stilts and...
...future President Bush!  This is the real Death of a President!

If you want to know how he knows to kill this guy (based on what only the lead kid knows), you will be...confused.
This leads to a long sequence of a Parade and Sam killing people.  Naturally, this leads to...

A melodramatic Scene explaining the bad things that Sam did before he left.  Who made this, Tyler Perry?!?
We later learn that Lead Kid and this blind kid (who was burned by fireworks a year earlier) share a psychic link with Sam because...the Plot says so.  Seriously, that's all I've got.

Neat Shot though.
A Chekhov's Cannon takes out Sam (the second time) and blows up the House.  That's what you get for filling your house with leaking Gas Canisters and leaving all six of your Stoves on.  The End.
This Holiday is weird and silly.  The Premise is kind of unique, but hits similar notes to Lustig's Maniac Cop films.  This one is different enough to not feel like just the same film (as opposed to Rumplestiltskin).  If you go into films like this looking for lots of gore, this does not disappoint.  There is A TON of random kills in this film.  One lady is killed after discovering a severed head in a grill- why not?!?  If you go into this looking for a balanced and cohesive Plot, you won't quite get that.  Don't get me wrong- Larry Cohen's Script is fun, but odd.  There is no good explanation for the whole Psychic Link thing.  Honestly, the film could work without it well enough, but it is what it is.  Uncle Sam is not a bad film, but I hesitate to call it a good film either.  It is chock full of recognizable faces in small roles- including Robert Forster as a Senator- and chock full of gore.  If they were aiming for something more than a strange, Cult Film, they didn't achieve it.  If that was their goal, then good job.  Take us away, Peeping Sam (on Stilts, no less!)...
Up next, let's hop back to the 1970s and cover a TV Movie.  Before they were a great Disney Cartoon, they were killing random people in the Desert.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. It's basically Maniac Cop except with a soldier... and evil.

    Either way, I wasn't crazy about it. Deathdream is my go-to for this sort of thing, and was made a good 20+ years earlier.