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Uncle Sam (1996).

November 17, 2009

The Scoop:
Celebrities can do embarrassing things when they’re down on their luck. So, before Robert Forster got a career boost from being in “Jackie Brown” and Isaac Hayes got one from being on “South Park,” they both starred in this slasher dreck.

Sam (David Shark Fralick), a Gulf War vet who is bitter because he was killed by friendly fire in Iraq (hey, who wouldn’t be?), returns from the dead on the Fourth of July to terrorize a generic Small Midwestern Town. Sam’s worshipful nephew must team up with Sam’s old army buddy Chef (er, I mean Jed, played by Hayes, who doesn’t even get to sing here) and a blind kid in a wheelchair to stop him. Forster is a politician of some sort who gets to die one of the most humiliating deaths in slasher-dom. Joining them on the humiliation train are Timothy Bottoms, P.J. Soles and Bo Hopkins.

The script by veteran schlockmeister Larry Cohen is not even up to his usual z-grade standards and the direction by William Lustig is just as bad. The effects are especially low-rent — in one shot, the strings are literally showing. Good for laughs, but not scares.

More interesting to me, though, is that “Uncle Sam” was shot almost entirely in my (adoptive) hometown of La Verne, California. Lots of films have been shot here over the years — almost all of them better — but none of them show quite as many recognizable locations as this one. All you La Vernians who read this blog should really check out the film so you can see plenty of Heritage Park, downtown (including exteriors of Warehouse Pizza) and some of the familiar houses along both D Street and Second Street.

Best Bit:
The unintentional comic relief of the blind wheelchair kid.

Side Note:
“Uncle Sam” pretty much put an end to future film production in La Verne. When the crew set off some major pyrotechnics at 2 a.m. one night on a residential street without informing anyone beforehand — resulting in lots of broken house windows and angry neighbors — the city council stopped granting film permits.

Companion Viewing:
“Jack Frost” (1997).

Eccentric Cinema.
All Things Zombie.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

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