By Derek Warren | For Weekender
Originally released in 1997, “Uncle Sam” was immediately destined to be a cult film. The film was panned by many, including some in the horror community, and was relegated to forgotten status for a number of years.
Over time though many have begun to realize this is not a film that was taking itself seriously and instead was meant as a satire on America while disguising itself as a slasher film. Not that it is overly artistic by any means, but there is a bit more depth to it than initially thought.
The film follows Master Sergeant Sam Harper, or more appropriately his body. The Master Sergeant was killed in a helicopter crash that was deemed as being “friendly fire” while in Kuwait.
However, while the burned-out wreckage is being examined he suddenly springs to life and kills a sergeant and a major, and returns to an inactive state after muttering, “Don’t be afraid, it’s only friendly fire!”
Weeks later, Sam’s body is delivered to his hometown of Twin Rivers. The timing of this is right around the Independence Day preparations for the town. Sam’s wife Louise is given custody of the casket containing Sam’s remains. However the remains are left in the home of Sam’s estranged sister Sally, who lives with her patriotic young son, Jody.
Soon Sam reanimates again in the early hours of the Fourth of July and proceeds to kill and steal the costume of Uncle Sam. Sam then makes his way to a cemetery, where he murders two of three juvenile delinquents who had vandalized tombstones, and desecrated an American flag over his burial site.
The film follows Sam as he exacts his bloody revenge against those who have wronged America. The reasons for killing range from opposing the war to being outright anti-American.
The killings, while bloody, are not gratuitous and are far from scary. The sheer idea of a zombie like Uncle Sam killer should give away the idea that this is not a scary movie, but it does have a very strong statement about what it is to be American if you can look past the ridiculous premise.
This film has trouble walking the line between comedy and horror and that is where it lacks. It does not take itself very seriously, but takes itself more seriously than it should.
There was a gluttony or straight to video horror in the 1990’s and “Uncle Sam” fell into that hole and has only begun to emerge from it. It is not a film that everyone will love but is another great horror movie to enjoy around a holiday.
Derek Warren is a cult movie fanatic, collector, craft beer enthusiast and all-around nerd. He can be reached via email at NEPABeerGeek@gmail.com