The Film (3.5/5)
The first time I saw Uncle Sam was during the 90's slasher revival. It has not been that long, so I'm sure a good many of you remember this. A little flick from Wes Craven called Scream hit theaters in 1996, and was so wildly popular that slasher films became trendy for the first time since the late 80's, and new titles began to flood the stores. During this period films ranging from Urban Legend to I Know What You Did Last Summer lit up the box office, while in the DTV circuit you saw things like Bloody Murder (an obvious F13 clone), Jack Frost (about a mutant killer snowman), and the film we have here on a nice shiny Blu-ray today Uncle Sam.
At the time of it's release, I remember being largely disappointed in the film. I knew it was from William Lustig, the director of what is arguably the greatest post-Halloween slasher film, Maniac. It was because of this I expected wall-to-wall bloody violence in Uncle Sam. The violence in the film was good, and the killer looked cool, but nothing really happened until the third act. However, when I heard Blue Underground was putting a Blu-ray out, I knew I would have to reexamine the film.
A few weeks ago the Blu-ray of Uncle Sam came in the mail just as I was about to move out of my old house in Florida and move back to Seattle, WA. By that point my Blu-ray player was (and still is) packed, luckily the friend who I was going to stay with while house hunting had just upgraded his setup, and had one with a nice 42” 1080p screen to go with it. He hadn't heard of the film, and was going in fresh. I was watching the film with my previous viewing in mind, with the aid of Bob, and some PBR's (in memory of Dennis Hopper) we got down to watching it. I am happy to report that Uncle Sam ended up being a ton of fun, and with this viewing I found myself thoroughly enjoying the film.
The film opens with the death of Sgt. Sam Harper, who was killed by friendly fire during the first gulf war. Sam's body was, of course, shipped back to his hometown soon after to be given a proper burial. Unfortunately, for the town, a proper burial is not what Sam had in mind. Sam returns from the grave to seek bloody revenge on the unpatriotic citizens of this community. The only ones who can stop him are Sam's adoring young nephew Jody, and a Korean war vet played by Isaac Hayes.
As I recalled initially, the violence in the film is largely confined to the third act, which is fine. It helps us get to know the characters, and to a slight degree their motivations. Also, the first 2/3 of the film work well as a patriotic satire. This is an element, that while not lost to me, was something I did not pay attention to the first time around, and this time had me in stitches during the early parts of the movie. The film's cast is a genre fans dream, and is packed with genre vets from Robert Forster (Maniac Cop, Jackie Brown), Isaac Hayes (South Park), and P.J. Soles (Rock and Roll High School, Halloween). Uncle Sam while not a perfect horror film, is a fun ride of a film, and is definitely recommended to those looking to have fun with a not-so-serious horror flick..
Blue Underground has presented Uncle Sam in a 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer in 1080p resolution, to put it simply Uncle Sam looks amazing. Blue Underground have not released an ugly Blu-ray yet, and Uncle Sam continues that tradition of quality that we have come to expect from their BD's. Uncle Sam, of course, is a much newer film than much of what they've released before, so it really takes to the format in a much greater way than some of the earlier BU releases. The transfer itself is not without problems, there is some instances of grain throughout the film especially in the opening prologue, but nothing distracting, and Uncle Sam will probably never look better than it does here.
The BD of Uncle Sam has been set up with 2 audio options a 7.1 DTS-HD track, and a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track, they are both in English. The film is presented with optional English, French, and Spanish subtitles. For my viewing we watched it with the 5.1 Dolby track, and the sound was amazing. The dialogue was clear throughout, and the sound effects and music at times exploded from the speakers. There was no noticeable grain, hissing, or background noise on the track.
The BD of Uncle Sam has a nice assortment of special features. The most substantial extras on the disc are a pair of commentary tracks. The first features Uncle Sam director William Lustig, screenwriter (and genre extraordinaire) Larry Cohen, and the films producer George G. Braunstein. The second commentary features director Lustig, and Uncle Sam Co-Star Issac Hayes. There is also a short featurette called Fire Stunts, a few deleted scenes, a gag reel, the films theatrical trailer, and a poster and stills gallery.
Uncle Sam is a really fun masked slasher film. The film works great on a few levels, as simply a good horror film, and it works even better on a satiric level. The restoration of the film is absolutely fantastic, and it looks better than it has ever looked previously. The extras on this disc are slim, but what we have is interesting. Uncle Sam comes recommended to those who are looking for a fun and funny horror film.