Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Uncle Sam (1996, William Lustig)


William Lustig and Larry Cohen got together in the 1990s to give us all a slice of 1980s style cheese known as Uncle Sam. This movie has some cool kills, yet too many of them were hampered by the budget and more likely the MPAA. I loathe those censoring bastards. Anyways this movie probably should have been longer and more fleshed out, and Joe Bob Briggs does have a point that some elements are randomly left unexplained when they probably warranted some exposition.

However Darcy the Mail Girl is correct in that this is a fun horror flick, and plus it’s a rare one set around the Fourth of July. I’m a sucker for holiday related movies in general and honestly one of our most celebrated holidays should have more flicks based around it. Plus I’m down with a movie that gleefully takes aim at how much war is glorified by people in this country, and how Hollywood is partly to blame in that regard.

That smarts!

Christopher Ogden is quite good as young Jody, who slowly learns the awful truth about his Uncle Sam, who he worships at first. Isaac Hayes has a great monologue in this movie where he tells Jordy not to join the military, where as Timothy Bottoms and Robert Forster show up to be major character actor victims. P.J. Soles even makes an appearance although I barely recognized her. There is a scene where one man is killed by fireworks and then this leads to another man being impaled on the American flag in what is probably one of the most impressive displays of cheesy slasher movie violence I have ever witnessed.

Honestly you could probably remake this movie now, yet it wouldn’t be quite the same although perhaps the gore would be more present. Add in an even more pointed takedown of military propaganda and you would have yourself a great movie instead of a merely decent one. Still check out Uncle Sam for a slice of 1990s comedy violence that fits well with Small Soldiers for a nice double bill.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Q The Winged Serpent (1982, Larry Cohen)


Out of all the monster films I’ve watched over the years Q: The Winged Serpent is rather bizarre. After all this is a movie about a cult that brings to life a freaky God creature that flies around and devours people. Plenty of awesome and entertaining moments there, not to mention Cohen once again directing a film set in New York where people are being killed by a strange force and the police are investigating.

What makes this film also interesting is the performances of Michael Moriarty and David Carradine. Moriarty plays a criminal piano player that stumbles onto the creature’s nest and being a crook naturally demands money for leading the police to the monster. Carradine’s police officer is a man too smart for his own good, who runs up against the fact that the police don’t like conspiracies. Much easier to simply tackle a beast flying around Manhattan as it kills people.

Despite being rather cheesy and not being quite as developed or as well made as some of his films this one is still rather solid. Also the creature effects are claymation, which is a nice touch. The 1980s didn’t have enough big monster movies save for the ones from Japan and a few others, which is kind of a shame as I love me a good big angry monster movie.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: God Told Me To (1976, Larry Cohen)


Opening with a killing spree that feels ripped from today’s headlines, God Told Me To feels all too relevant in today’s blood soaked present. The cop who tries to find out why a seemingly normal man would murder people without cause or reason is coldly presented with an eerie sentence where ever he goes: “God told me to.” The opener is chaotic and terrifying, ending in tragedy.

The police fail to see a motive even though others continue to kill, stating the exact reason the first murderer did. The cop, Peter (Tony Lo Bianco) runs up against his own police force and ends up digging into his own past, revealing unanswered questions that might lead to a nightmarish future. At the heart of all of this is a cult leader who may not even be of this world. Cohen frames all of this in stark, realistic and eerie fashon, crafting scenes of pure tension.

Even more interesting is that the film has two particularly strong female characters, played by Deborah Raffin and Sandy Dennis. How they relate to and figure into what Peter is going through establish and ground the movie in a plausible reality. They also realize only too late the deep issues that Peter has, although his wife mediates upon Peter’s obsession with religion. One harrowing scene involves Peter dealing with his perceived sins in a church, a moment that reminds me of the works of Abel Ferrera.

Naturally all of this craziness boils to a shocking and chilling finale. Cohen is an underrated auteur that made different and interesting films, some horror, some crime, often mixing the two and giving us a film such as God Told Me To. Not too many films made in the 1970s have stayed relevant, yet what may be Cohen’s finest creation is still very applicable today. Particularly with the recent killing sprees and the rise of religious fanaticism.

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