Uncle Sam and Homecoming

Uncle Sam -- Starring: William Smith, David 'Shark' Fralick, Christopher Ogden

Directed by: William Lustig

Homecoming --

Starring: Jon Tenney, Thea Gill

Directed by: Joe Dante

Two zombie films for the price of one in this review, friends.

The first is Uncle Sam.  From the first 10 minutes, it seems like it might be a decent movie.  It starts out a little ominous in the desert of Iraq, deceased soldiers in a helicopter…though one is really not dead, just zombified and making a cheesy joke about friendly fire whilst shooting the investigating officer.

That is pretty much the highlight of the movie.

The rest is a heavy-handed, unfunny march through the soldier's hometown.  His name is Sam, and he left behind a wife who is afraid of him, a sister who is also afraid of him, and a nephew who absolutely idolizes him.

You can see who is going to taste the wrath of zombie Uncle Sam from miles away.  The draft-dodging elementary school teacher.  The IRS-cheating, Gulf War criticizing family friend.  The obnoxious teenagers who burn flags and desecrate the National Anthem.

It takes a really long time to set up the back story and get to the part where Uncle Sam starts doling out ridiculous zombie justice (such as running an unpatriotic offender up a flagpole by his neck and terminating a peeping tom with hedge clippers).  Plus, the adoring nephew's blind adoration and the political overtones are less humorous, more painful to watch.

The only thing that makes this movie somewhat watchable is the bloodbath at the 4th of July town festival and Issac Hayes as the overall hero of the day.

Do yourself a favor and don't put it in the queue.  There are many better options, such as…

Homecoming, a Masters of Horror piece directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, the 'burbs) is a far superior zombie soldier movie.

David (Jon Tenney) is something of a legend among political speechwriters, working a bit of an uphill spin battle for the upcoming election due to the unpopular war.  On an evening talk show similar to "Larry King Live" and other of that ilk, he has an emotional moment and wishes soldiers killed in action could come back and tell their families how proud they are to have died for their country.

Not only is this quote totally sound-biteable, it attracts the attention of the show's other guest, Jane Cleaver (Thea Gill).  Styled in the political leanings of Ann Coulter, she is a ball-busting conservative aching for power and unafraid to use her confidence and feminine wiles to get to the inner circle of politics.

Elsewhere, strange things begin to happen with remains of American soldiers killed in action returning from war.  Some of them are getting out of their flag-covered caskets and shuffling about as zombies with unfinished business.

Of course, this is a political nightmare.  It also stirs up an old family secret about David's brother, a Vietnam war veteran.

Amid speculation about how undead soldiers could be a tremendous asset to the cause, one finally speaks.  Why are they here?  What do they want?  Really, all they want is to vote in the upcoming election.  Not braaaaaaaaains, not souls, just a vote.  Easy, right?  Come on, it's politics.  What do you think happens?

As an hour-long movie, it is excellently stocked with philosophical points, politics, humor, and a creative premise.  Joe Dante is truly a master of comic horror.

If you:

  • Like zombie movies
  • Like a laugh with your undead
  • Enjoy a thinking person's scary film

Put it in the queue!

However, if you:

  • Are very pro-war
  • Are bored silly by political theory
  • Are unable to laugh at the ridiculososity of the political spin machine

Don't put it in the queue.

Written by: Jennifer Venson