If you love low-budget horror with a holiday tie-in, raise your hand. And keep reading.
The holiday weekend is upon us, and for those of us who are horror inclined, there’s also a stand-out horror comedy slasher zombie romp to watch after the sparklers have sparked and the fireworks have fired.
Uncle Sam is a 1996 film starring Isaac Hayes and Pamela Soles (Halloween/Carrie), directed by the fella who brought us Maniac Cop one, two and three.
Sergeant Sam Harper was killed by friendly fire in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. When his helicopter is recovered and his body sent home to the sleepy town of Twin Rivers for proper burial, all hell breaks loose. If hell is a zombified veteran dressed in an Uncle Sam costume who goes on a holiday weekend murder spree that clearly violates his victims’ constitutional rights. That’s right, our erstwhile Uncle Sam creatively murders those who are insufficiently patriotic during the town’s fourth of July celebration. Watch out tax cheats, flag burners, headstone vandalizers, draft dodgers, crooked politicians, lusty cops, lazy pot smoking teenagers, and a super beware to the ultimate Independence day violators: Singers who creatively interpret the Star Spangled Banner.
Only Jody, Sam Harper’s nephew—who idolizes him and spouts patriotic slogans with such fervor that it’ll make you a little uncomfortable—can stop his uncle’s murder spree. With the help of his best friend, Barry, who is in a wheelchair, scarred and blinded by a Fourth of July fireworks accident, of course. Let me just say, that after watching Uncle Sam, I’m pretty sure Twin Rivers wins to award for the town with the least safe, most negligently dangerous fireworks display two years running. It also wins the award for world’s most treacherous sack race course, hands down.
Now, yes. Holiday horror is it’s own special niche in the horror genre.
Uncle Sam isn’t actually terrible. Sure, the plot falls apart a little at the end, and the grisly murder scenes all cut away from the action, made for TV movie style, rather than show all the gore. But, the makeup effects are good. The director at least tried to be creative with the camera angles, and the film quality is decent, too. The Uncle Sam costume is sufficiently creepy. And as if you needed another reason to watch, Isaac Hayes stars as disabled veteran Jed Crowley, who swoops in with the wooden leg assist to put an a “The End” end on our disgruntled zombie soldier. I also really loved the use of music and vintage Uncle Sam footage in the opening credits.
Uncle Sam is fun. There aren’t many horror movies centered around the 4th of July, and this one uses the theme and the holiday setting to great effect. Although, two tips: If you want to save your hometown from the ire of a zombie solider, don’t unlock his coffin before the funeral. And, If you’re a stilt walker who’s gonna dress up as Uncle Sam, don’t be a peeping tom. It never ends well for the peeping toms. Trust me.
Here’s the trailer. If you want to watch it, it’s streaming and for sale on Amazon. It’s also on FandangoNow and Apple movies.