Uncle Sam

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The Fourth of July is a holiday meant to be celebrated with fireworks and beer but an undead solider from Operation Desert Storm has other ideas.

I’ve never been able to see fireworks and beer being a great combination but somehow they work well together. Well, at least if you ignore all the stuff that goes wrong every year thanks to a horrible mix of something that you have to actually be incredibly responsible with (fireworks) and something that makes you entirely irresponsible (beer). That being said, I’m so glad someone decided to pair them up because there is nothing more fun than lighting a mortar while chugging a beer. In fact, I’m going to go on record and say that all war would be ended if we just started having every soldier drink beer while on the battlefield. You’d see both sides put down their weapons in a heartbeat. Who wants to fight when you can come up with greater ways to enjoyably blow shit up together, and you know what would make people really want to get together to enjoyably blow shit up? That’s right, beer. Why have I not been made leader of the world yet?

Our independence holiday flick begins with a little trip to Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm where a helicopter has been shot down by friendly fire. Before the soldiers recovering the corpses can say “Our bad” one of the shot down dead proves he’s not so dead by snapping the neck of the soldier checking him over and shooting the commanding officer of the group. Mr. Dead Soldier then passes back out before our story precedes to a couple of years later where the soldier in question comes home…so to speak. His body was found after the war had calmed down and is now being sent home for a proper burial. There’s only one problem, said soldier (conveniently named Sam) doesn’t want to be dead. He’s got a lot of killing left on his plate and if he can’t get that killing done in wartime he’s going to get it out of his system anyway he can, specifically the Fourth of July celebration of his home town. As townsfolk begin to die in festive manners the undead soldier’s young nephew (get it now, Uncle Sam) tires to piece together the puzzles that may lead to a permanent peace for his uncle.

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{Cute family portrait if I ever saw one}

I was damn sure when I slid this one in the DVD player (yes DVD you Blue-Ray snobs, still have my VHS player as well) that I was in for a really lame movie. Just look at the cover at the top and tell me that doesn’t look like a terrible 90’s horror flick, one of those easily forgettable movies that you watch once and instantly wish you had chosen to eat paint chips instead since the brain damage from both would be the same, plus the paint chips would have gone down quicker. Why did I bother watching it then? Simple answer, boredom, lucky for me Uncle Sam wasn’t bad. I’m not going to say it was an awesome movie or anything, just that it wasn’t that bad. Don’t expect to be blown away by amazing effects or awesome makeup, but what you can expect is a decent story with some play on the morals of a soldier…plus Isaac Hayes (yes, Chef from South Park).

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{Yep, same guy}

I won’t go into too much detail when it comes to the effects and makeup, they’re good but not great, so there isn’t a whole lot to say. The one thing I will say is that they were at least cleverly used; it was obvious they didn’t have much of a budget, so they tried to use what they had to the best of their abilities. It didn’t always work so well but it at least wasn’t absolute shit which is more than I can say about World War Z (yes, I’m still a little bitter over exactly how fucking terrible that movie was).

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{Fuck Brad Pitt for World War Z alone}

I think where the movie succeeded most was in the morality play on being a solider in the military. The story itself is fairly generic (wronged man comes back from the dead for revenge set, surprisingly enough, in his own small town home) with just a few extra bells and whistles added. One of those additions is how this particular wronged man was a crazy soldier who loved to kill because he was a violent psychopath. That by itself wouldn’t have really mattered that much, after all, they’ve just about had the wronged man be anything from a poor murdered clown to a pet dog to a sasquatch, the gamut has been run when it comes to that character archetype. What they did that made it stand out a bit more was making a small part of the movie a commentary on how soldiers in war fit into two different categories. There are those who hope to never have to kill but will do what is necessary to defend their country (represented by Isaac Hayes for this film), and those who could care less about defending their homeland and just want an excuse to give in to their violent nature (represented by our crazed killer for this film). There was even a bit of commentary on how hard it is for a solider to believe in the cause they are told to fight for when they can’t tell if their cause is a just one or not.

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{Symbolism}

I honestly think they made a major mistake by not exploring some of those issues further. Uncle Sam could have been a deep philosophical horror flick that centered on the problems facing so many soldiers around the world, and they could have still had a returned soldier murdering flag burners and draft dodgers. Look at the Masters of Horror episode Homecoming for an example; it had zombies, murder, and revenge yet it still went into great detail in its social commentary on the Iraqi War. Uncle Sam could have easily been something similar but instead choose to be, for the most part, just another flick about a maybe zombie (they never really go into why he came back or what he is) murdering people just because he enjoys it. It was too bad they didn’t do all they could to make it the movie it easily could have been because those few times that above mentioned commentary is brought up they do a good job with it.

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{Not to mention the commentary presented in this scene alone}

Still, if you’re looking for a good horror movie to watch about a crazed maybe zombie killing a bunch of people this one might be for you. It’s a good movie to watch if you’re just wanting to hang out with friends and family, get drunk, and have a good time.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: William Lustig (Maniac {1980}, Maniac Cop 1, 2, and 3)

Starring: David Shark Fralick (Night Hunter, Ultimate Target), Christopher Ogden (SLC Punk, Bob’s Video), and Isaac Hayes (he’s motherfucking Isaac Hayes, no previous appearances are necessary)

Released By: A-Pix Entertainment and Solomon International Pictures

Release Year: 1996

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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