uncle sam 
there's not been a lot of movies made about the persian gulf war. maybe half a dozen? fewer? i'm too lazy right now to do a bit of clicking to find out how many flicks were shot using the gulf war as the subject. maybe the war was over too quickly to be absorbed in popular memory and is recalled today as being only a few bright flashes of light from hi-tech military hardware broadcast each night on cnn. no bodies. no blood. no horror seen on tv. thus the war recedes from popular consciousness as the world becomes even more intractable and horrific and even less cinematic in our young century.
william lustig, the filmmaker behind grindhouse features such as maniac
 and maniac cop
, gathered some impressive talent and made a flick that features the murdering exploits of a dead u.s. soldier who was killed in action fighting in desert storm and returned to his small town for burial with full military honors. the town is getting set to celebrate the 4th of july when the soldier rises from his coffin and does some serious shit to the innocent folk of his native hamlet.
you might ask why the soldier kills kin and friends. i don't have the answer. neither does lustig or larry cohen -- the brilliant director of such drive-in gems it's alive
, god told me to
 and the stuff
 -- the last of these is one of my favorite b-movies of all time, who penned this flick. neither can the solid cast, isaac hayes, william smith, bo hopkins or pj soles, make heads or tails of the killer's motivations.
what you can say is that lustig managed to make a horror movie out of independance day and i bet there ain't many horror movies that are about or set on the 4th of july. we are told by the killer's sister, as filtered thru the perspective of her son who hero-worships his dead uncle, that the dead guy was not a nice man and did terrible things to his sisters and to almost everyone he came into contact with. well, there goes any political subtext you might be thinking that is lurking beneath the surface of this movie. lustig uses the 4th of july holiday and desert storm as the backdrop for his set pieces that require the killer to dress in the red, white and blue of an uncle sam costume.
the set pieces are okay. as is the direction and the writing. the story is pretty good too. at least for the initial set up. and the cast is game. hayes was a fine actor and gives this little flick a modicum of dignity it would otherwise lack. the editing sucks and the photography is servicable. the fx go off okay too. like the cheap ends of cast-off fireworks rather than the cool but illegal m-80s and roman candles that your uncles and friends of the family would bring back from mexico and produce after the bbq and when lit despite the protestations of the more sensible and sober adults in the party would just simply amp the wow factor ten-fold of the summer holiday to the delight of everyone. in other words, lustig and co. may have been hampered by a small budget and time constraints. there's no question that there's some major talent at work on this film but what found its way onto the final reels wasn't equal to its makers.
oh well. it's a fun flick just the same. and you can't fault lustig and cohen for the originality of their idea of creating a character brought home from the persian gulf war during the 4th of july. so far i think this is the only horror flick about both desert storm and the 4th of july. yes, i know, there's roland emmerich's independence day
 that is set around the 4th of july but that turd of a pic is technically a sci-fi film and not a horror movie. okay, i admit of having a perverse fondness for emmerich's dumb-ass vision of alien invaders, but on balance i'd rather clean up the pencil shavings of william lustig than endure 2 plus hrs of anything by emmerich.
happy 4th of july!