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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Satire > Patriotism > Killer > War > Uncle Sam (1997/Blue Underground Blu-ray)

Uncle Sam (1997/Blue Underground Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B-

 

 

Nothing like a dark satire, especially when it works.  William Lustig followed his successful Maniac Cop films with Uncle Sam (1997), an underrated slasher comedy with a difference penned by Larry Cohen, a writer and director himself who helmed classics like It’s Alive, Black Caesar and God Told Me To.  Cohen also penned Maniac Cop for Lustig and they may have been trying for another franchise series.  It did not happen, mostly because of timing (Bill Clinton was president, so no one was weary of nationalism at the time) so an ambitious film missed the mark.

 

The set up is similar to the late, great Bob Clark’s Deathdream (available on Blue Underground DVD, reviewed elsewhere on this site) where a soldier seems to have died in combat, but when the body comes back home, it is alive and goes on a killing spree.  While in Clark’s film, they think the death is reported incorrectly, the death of the Major (played by the great character actor William Smith of Grave Of The Vampire, Boss and 1982’s Schwarzenegger Conan) is very dead, but not his patriotism.  So he comes back as the mythical U.S. icon and starts to kill anyone he deems “unpatriotic” and with the 4th of July coming up, the body count could be very high.

 

Instead of being another slice & dice film, the sardonic tone is fun and interesting, though the film earns its R-rating.  In part, the film is having fun with the look of John Carpenter’s original Halloween (1978) down to making fun of another holiday with a mysterious killer on the loose, but best of all is the unique chemistry Lustig and Cohen have when making anything together.  For all the bad Horror films of late and bad remakes in particular, this one would be tough to remake and in a new political climate, gains new relevance making it ripe for rediscovery.  Isaac Hayes, Bo Hopkins, P.J. Soles and Robert Forster also star.

 

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is shot in the Super 35mm film format by Director of Photography James A. Lebovitz (The Toxic Avenger) in some of his best work to date with interesting compositions and suspenseful lighting.  However, the master used here is a little weak, but this is a good-looking print and I doubt a DVD could look any better overall.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 7.1 mix is superior to the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix also included, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 theatrical release has some sonic limits (likely from budget in part) that show its age versus new digital 5.1 films, but it is still decent and Mark Governor’s score is not bad either.  Maybe the 7.1 was pushing things, but you can compare to the Dolby 5.1 and judge for yourself.

 

Extras include Deleted Scenes, a Gag Reel, the original theatrical trailer, poster & stills gallery, Five Stunts with Audio Commentary by Stunt Coordinator Spiro Razatos and two feature-length Audio Commentary tracks, both with Lustig.  He is joined by Hayes on one and Cohen & Producer George G. Braunstein on the other.

 

 

For more on Lustig’s Maniac Cop, try our coverage of the DVD from Synapse:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/4847/Maniac+Cop+(Special+Edition/Synapse

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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