DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


William Lustig
Isaac Hayes, Timothy Bottoms, Robert Forster
Writing Credits:
Larry Cohen

A Desert Storm vet who was killed in combat rises from the grave on July Fourth to kill the unpatriotic citizens of his hometown.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 6/21/2022

• Audio Commentary with Director William Lustig, Writer Larry Cohen, and Producer George G. Braunstein
• Audio Commentary with Director William Lustig and Actor Isaac Hayes
• Fire Stunts with Audio Commentary from Stunt Coordinator Spiro Razatos
• Deleted Scene
• Gag Reel
• Poster & Still Gallery
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Uncle Sam [4K UHD] (1996)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 23, 2022)

Sometimes it feels like movies start with a title and a poster concept and go from there. Into this realm falls 1996’s Uncle Sam, a flick that uses an iconic image and slogan to give us the tagline “I want you… dead”.

During Desert Storm, Sgt. Sam Harper (David Fralick) dies in combat as a result of “friendly fire”. His scarred body returns his small hometown of Twin Rivers.

After some allegedly un-American activities occur in the area, Sam’s corpse springs back to life. Clad in an “Uncle Sam” costume, Zombie Sam embarks on a bloody crusade to slaughter citizens he deems to seem insufficiently unpatriotic.

When Sam wound up on my door, I assumed it offered a horror film from the 1980s, mainly because that decade acted as a sort of “Golden Age” for cheesy/gimmicky tales like this. In addition, the movie’s themes make more sense for the Reagan era than the Clinton years.

Really, the story seems a much better fit for the mid-80s period of flicks like Rambo: First Blood Part II and Top Gun than the more cynical mid-1990s. For me, the question became how much Sam would reflect its era or if it would feel like an 80s throwback.

The answer becomes “both”. Sam offers an awkward and unsatisfying mix of 80s-style patriotism and 90s cynicism.

Neither side works well, though even if the movie opted for one over the other, its problems would abound. In particular, Sam stays stuck on the aforementioned poster concept more than a fleshed-out narrative.

This means the movie comes with far too much padding. After a brief violent preface, the film takes an awfully long time to get into gear.

The tale devotes lots of footage to Sam’s widow, sister and nephew, most of which feels superfluous. Sure, some character development feels necessary, but too much of the movie’s first act just seems stuck in neutral, as we get elements that add nothing in the long run.

Sam doesn’t get into the violence it promises until about halfway through its running time. That feels awfully long for a story of this sort, and as noted, the movie doesn’t use the run-up to the gore well.

Also as I implied, Sam comes with an inconsistent perspective, as the filmmakers can never decide whether they endorse ultra-patriotism or condemn it. In theory, I like these stabs at complexity and avoidance of easy answers, but no one involved can convey any nuance, so the end result just becomes another cheesy horror flick.

A weird mix of Born on the Fourth of July and Friday the 13th, Uncle Sam never satisfies. It winds up as a mess of random character beats, muddled messages and sporadic violence that goes nowhere.

Footnote: a blooper shows up after the conclusion of the end credits.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C-/ Bonus B-

Uncle Sam appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The Dolby Vision image worked better than I expected.

Overall delineation looked solid. A little softness mixed into a few wider shots, but most of the film seemed accurate and well-defined.

I saw no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes appeared absent. With a nice layer of grain, I suspected no overuse of noise reduction, and print flaws failed to mar the proceedings.

Colors largely stayed natural, and they seemed appealing. HDR added some heft to the tones, as they felt vivid and full.

Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows showed largely positive clarity. HDR brought extra oomph to whites and contrast as well. I felt pretty happy with this solid presentation.

Fewer pleasures stemmed from the awkward Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Sam. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, it presented a clumsy soundscape.

The issues stemmed from general environmental effects, as everyday sounds tended to pop up in odd places. For instance, when a character lit a cigarette lighter, the effect reverberated in the back speakers for no logical reason.

This continued through the film. Dialogue remained appropriately centered and music showed good stereo presence, but the localization of effects came across as strange and distracting.

Audio quality seemed fine, though a little rough for a track from 1996. This stemmed from effects, as those were usually accurate but occasionally a bit distorted.

Dialogue seemed natural and distinctive, while music was lively and full. The issues with the soundfield became the primary problem here and the reason I gave the track a “C-“.

Note that the Blu-ray also came with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that I assume replicated the film’s original mix. 5.1 audio was pretty standard by the time of Sam’s creation.

I compared the 5.1 to the Atmos and found the same issues with the soundfield – to a degree. The 5.1 version felt a little more natural but it still showed a lot of the same awkward localization. I’d take the 5.1 over the clumsy Atmos, but don’t expect the former to fix the latter’s issues.

As we shift to extras, we find two audio commentaries, the first of which comes from director William Lustig, writer Larry Cohen, and producer George G. Braunstein. Recorded in 2004, all three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, music, the project's origins and development, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography and aspect ratio, the film's distribution and reception, editing, and related concepts.

While reasonably informative, this feels like a fairly average commentary. Lustig dominates, though the others chime in enough to justify their attendance.

In general, we find a reasonably positive overview of the production. However, the chat never becomes all that memorable, so expect basics and not much more.

We also get a track from director William Lustig and actor Isaac Hayes. Also from 2004, both sit together for their running, screen-specific view of topics similar to those heard in the first track.

And I mean that literally, as Lustig often repeats into from the prior discussion. Hayes doesn’t tend to offer much as well. We get a smattering of new insights but too much of this commentary feels redundant.

A compilation of Fire Stunts runs nine minutes, 48 seconds and includes commentary from stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos. We get VHS-quality footage from the set along with Razatos’s remarks. This turns into a moderately compelling reel.

One Deleted Scene spans 53 seconds and shows multiple takes of a sequence in which the authorities discuss the return of Sam’s remains. With VHS quality, the segment looks terrible and it adds nothing of value.

A Gag Reel occupies 40 seconds and displays a low-quality compilation of clips that look pervy. It offers minor amusement.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with a Poster & Still Gallery. It offers 52 frames of ads, video art, publicity images and shots from the set to become a decent collection.

In theory, I should appreciate that Uncle Sam occasionally aspires to deliver more than just a cheap slasher flick. However, the filmmakers execute the themes in such a muddled and inconsistent manner that the movie becomes a mess. The 4K UHD offers surprisingly good visuals along with surprisingly erratic audio and a few bonus features. This winds up as a sub-mediocre horror movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main