He red, white and blew 'em away... "I thought ghosts were supposed to come out in the dark, not in broad daylight on the Fourth of July!"Uncle Sam
— Jed Crowley
is a 1997 Slasher Movie
, created by the duo of Larry Cohen
and William Lustig
During the Gulf War
, sadistic door gunner Master Sergeant Sam Harper was killed along with his crew when their helicopter was shot down by friendly fire over Kuwait. Due to the seclusion of the impact site, Sam's charred corpse went undiscovered for three years, but when it was found, he randomly sprung to life and murdered two fellow soldiers, a sergeant and a major, before falling inert. After the double homicide was presumably blamed on enemy forces, Sam's body was collected and shipped to his hometown of Twin Rivers, where it was left in the possession of his family; his wife Louise (who is currently dating local Deputy Phil Burke) and sister Sally (whose son, an awkward and extremely patriotic boy named Jody, idolized Sam, unaware of his violent and troubled past).
As Sam's family and friends (which includes his mentor, former sergeant Jed Crowley, who regrets filling Sam's head with stories of the glories of war) pay their reluctant respects to the dead man, the town prepares for its Fourth of July celebration, which local (and extremely corrupt) congressman Alvin Cummings will be attending, in an attempt to salvage his public image. Unfortunately for Twin Rivers, Sam comes out of hibernation when the clock strikes midnight on July 3rd, kills a perverted man for his Uncle Sam costume, and sets about murdering all those he views as unpatriotic, including (but not limited to) flag burners, draft dodgers, tax evaders, stoners and slimy politicians. When Sam ultimately crashes the town's Fourth of July celebration, Jody (who had become disillusioned after learning about Sam's history) and Jed, with help from a crippled boy named Barry Cronin (who has an inexplicable connection to Sam) must work together to send the psycho soldier back to Hell.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Agony of the Feet: After accidentally knocking a picture of Sam onto the floor, Jody steps on the glass.
- The Alcoholic: It is mentioned that Sam had a drinking problem. Clete's father also has it.
- Alien Blood: Sam's blood is black.
- All Part of the Show: Presumably what was going through the minds of the audience, considering how little reaction there is to Congressman Cummings being made apart of the fireworks display (at least until he blows up).
- Amoral Attorney: Ralph, who is proud how he manages to screw the opposition over in his cases.
- An Axe to Grind: Mr. Crandall's death comes in form of a hatchet that was meant to be wielded by a kid dressed as George Washington.
- Antagonist Title: Sam Harper, who is also Jody's uncle.
- Artificial Limbs: Jed's wooden right leg.
- Asshole Victim: Almost all the victims are given one or two (unpatriotic) Kick the Dog moments.
- Auto Erotica: A couple are briefly seen making out in an abandoned car.
- Ax-Crazy: Sam, even before he became undead. Even if he hadn't enlisted and been killed, he probably would've become a Serial Killer or something anyway.
- Body Horror: When Sam's face is fully revealed at the end, he looks like a horrible, decayed swamp monster, not a charred corpse.
- Broken Pedestal: Jody stops idolizing his uncle Sam after his aunt and mother tell him what he was really like.
- Chekhov's Gun: Along with Jed's cannon, there's also the spray paint cans Sam knocks Rick out with, and the meat cleaver he uses to kill Jesse.
- Comforting the Widow: Sergeant Twining enjoys informing soldiers' families of their deaths since it gives him a chance to do this.
- Don't Go in the Woods: Jesse gets lost in them during the sack race, and meets Sam, who kills him for intentionally butchering the national anthem earlier.
- Dream Sequence: Jody has a black and white dream in which he and Sam are marching in a Fourth of July parade.
- Eye Awaken: Sam does this inside his coffin when senses his grave being desecrated.
- Fainting: Mrs. Cronin's reaction to Sam massacring the Fourth of July celebration.
- Going Postal: "Way you shoot, you should get a job at the post office!"
- Gorn: It's a slasher movie — comes with the territory.
- Groin Attack: There were plenty of rumors that said Jed didn't just lose a leg to a landmine.
- Man on Fire: Turns out it takes two cannon blasts to kill an undead soldier.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: There's only one female victim.
- Mooning: After purposely singing the anthem poorly onstage, Jesse moons the audience.
- Morality Pet: Sam may or may not have actually loved Jody.
- More Dakka: After a simple handgun proves ineffective against Sam, the characters upgrade to a cannon.
- No Name Given: For some victims like the sergeant, the major, the barbecue girl and the mayor.
- Noodle Incident: The fireworks-related accident that disfigured, blinded and crippled Barry.
- Nothing Is Scarier: We don't see how Sam kills Willie with the garden shears, only hear it.
- Offscreen Teleportation: When Sam is stalking Jesse. It's done in such an absurd way that it has to be parodying this trope.
- Oh, Crap: Jed's reaction when he spots Sam's discarded mask while trying to call for help.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Sam has yellow ones in the film itself, but most artwork (like the above) depicts him with red.
- Shout-Out: Jed repeats the blind veteran's speech about being trapped under frozen bodies in a foxhole from Maniac Cop 2 almost exactly. The film "shattering" to black is also reference to City of the Living Dead.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!:
Sam: Take a good look at me, soldier. You... you made me into this.
Jed: No... you never fought for your country. You just killed for the love of killing! You're nothing! So just die!
- Sociopathic Soldier: Sam was this before his death, and he only got worse when he rose from the grave.
- Spiritual Successor: To the Maniac Cop trilogy, especially by how it shows Sam in his coffin. MC trilogy ended with Matt Cordell being inside his.
- The Stoner: The girl manning the barbecue, who tries to sneak away to smoke cannabis, but is caught.
- Title Drop: Since the killer is named Sam, and he's the main character's uncle, this of course happens a lot.