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Shaun vs. Uncle Sam (1996)

The body of Desert Storm soldier Sam Harper, killed in combat, is brought back home to be buried but comes back to life to kill the unpatriotic members of his hometown over the July 4th weekend.  



Judging a Book by its Cover

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-Risky strategy having the killer tell the potential renter/buyer that he wants them dead.  Maybe that’s why there isn’t a sequel?

-This kind of looks like Freddy Krueger running for president.  And he doesn’t want votes.

 


 

Uncle Sam wants you…dead!

Directed by William Lustig (Maniac, Maniac Cop trilogy)

Starring Sally Baker, Bo Hopkins, Christopher Ogden and Isaac Hayes

The film begins in Kuwait with a small military unit finding a helicopter that’s been uncovered by a sandstorm.  Inside the wreckage is the charred body of Master Sergeant Sam Harper, who was shot down due to friendly fire.  The body quickly grabs the head of a soldier that gets too close and twists it off before shooting the rest of the team.  Cue the credits which contain tons of copyright-free footage of anything with the caricature of Uncle Sam and honestly, there’s a lot of creepy ones in there.  Nice touch.

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Don’t know all the words to the “Star Spangled Banner?” That’s a killing.

Sam’s body is shipped back home (literally, it’s in the living room!) where it will be available for viewing before the proper burial after the Independence Day weekend.  Among the viewers are one-legged Jed (Hayes) who fought alongside Sam and Sgt. Twining (Hopkins) who is there mostly to “tend” to the grieving widow.  Jody, Sam’s incredibly patriot nephew, treats his uncle like you normally would for a war hero though he’s too young to know the real Sam was an abusive alcoholic to not just his wife but Jody’s mother as well and ran off to the war to satiate his desire to kill.  Good thing he’s dead…oh wait.

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The ramparts were gallantly streaming!

Sam’s body comes back to life and after pinning his medals to his crispy flesh, he goes out into the night to seek out people doing unpatriotic things which is a fairly common issue in this small town.  On his first night alone, Sam kills a peeping tom dressed as the character of Uncle Sam for the parade, how appropriate!  He moves onto a bunch of no good teenagers desecrating a goddamn cemetery of all things, including spray painting swastikas on tombstones and burning the American flag, of which remnants fall into the still empty plot of one Sam Harper.  No wonder he’s pissed off.  It’s at this point you decide if you want to take the movie seriously or realize that it’s satire and enjoy it for what it is.  It’s not perfect but it’s better than you’d expect.

Writer Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, Maniac Cop, Q: The Winged Serpent) packs the script full of obvious asshole characters to become Sam’s future targets.  The tax-dodging lawyer?  Dead.  The Vietnam draft dodger?  Dead.  The corrupt congressman?  Definitely dead.  Some jerk kid cheating in a potato sack race?  That’s pushing it, but dead!  They bite the dust in some over-the-top manners, from a hatchet to the head to someone getting blown up with the fireworks display and it’s gloriously fun to watch.  There are some good and honest people in this town, but even they become targets if they get in Sam’s way except for some blind kid in a wheelchair who has a telepathic link to Sam which, if I may say, what the fuck was that all about?

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And so we end another weekend with a neighborhood barbecue!

The late 90s were filled to the brim with Scream-clones and though Uncle Sam was strictly straight-to-video, it certainly stuck out from the pack with it’s satirical take on the slasher with it’s patriotic, undead nutbar dressed up as America himself as well as claiming another holiday for a horror title.

TL;DR

Story:  7 – A patriotic zombie returns to life to murder un-American dorks over the Independence Day weekend.

Blood: 7 – Bloody gunshots, a hatchet meets forehead, someone is hung from a flag pole, a brutal decapitation and much more!

Nudity: 3 – A brief bit of gratuitous nudity is shown.

Overall: 6 – There are some obvious issues but the film is surprisingly better than expected and more importantly, fun to watch.

Trivia

-The film has a brief dedication to Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci who passed away the same year the movie was filmed

-The City of La Verne decided to reject all future requests for movies to be filmed in La Verne after the filmmakers didn’t notify local homeowners of the large explosion they were going to be setting off at 2:00 AM.

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