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Uncle Sam

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    84
    from 3 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Uncle Sam in 4K is a fun watch with stunning visuals, recommended for fans.

    Uncle Sam 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    92
  • Uncle Sam's 4K Blu-ray dazzles with sharp, vibrant visuals, supreme HDR quality, and meticulous restoration, elevating its direct-to-video roots to reference-quality brilliance.

  • Audio
    90
  • The film's English Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD MA 5.1 tracks offer nuanced audio; Dolby Atmos impresses with clear, dynamic sound, despite the original's limitations.

  • Extra
    83
  • Archival commentaries, deleted scene, fire stunts, gag reel, and still gallery enrich 'Uncle Sam' UHD edition, preserving its creative journey and quirks.

  • Movie
    71
  • Blue Underground's 4K Blu-ray release of 'Uncle Sam' merges technical restoration with a satirical horror take on patriotism, boasting detailed supplements and international subtitles, as Lustig's final directorial work critiques war's aftermath.

    Video: 92

    Blue Underground brings "Uncle Sam" to life on 4K UHD Blu-ray in a stunning presentation that showcases the film in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, employing an HEVC/H.265 encoding. This release has been meticulously restored under the competent guidance of Bill Lustig, sourced from a 25th-anniversary 4K 16-bit scan of the original camera negative, which has been finished as a 4K Digital Intermediate. The restoration efforts yield a visual quality that rivals, and in some aspects, surpasses, previous remasters of Lustig's other works. Viewers are treated to an HDR-graded image (with options for Dolby Vision and HDR10), which enhances the visual depth and color reproduction, achieving what many would consider being 'reference quality.' The presentation benefits immensely from this meticulous restoration, revealing an impressive array of fine details, from the well-knit medium grain in darker scenes to the refined texture in the film’s patriotic costumes and the quaint design elements of its setting.

    The 4K transfer elevates "Uncle Sam" far beyond its original straight-to-video essence, presenting an image that is clean, stable, and replete with tightly-knit grain that lends a filmic quality the Blu-ray version lacked. The HDR grading endows the film with enhanced contrast and brightness levels, yielding cleaner whites and richer blacks—elements that were quite muted in previous releases. This new color grading revitalizes the film's patriotic color scheme—reds are more vivid, whites are purer, and blues are deeper, ensuring each frame pops with remarkable clarity. Furthermore, the heightened detail in both the liveliness of outdoor celebrations and the eerie subdued lighting of darker scenes display an extraordinary dynamic range that underscores the visual horror with greater impact.

    In technical terms, this release makes significant improvements over its predecessors, particularly in contrast enhancement and color vibrancy. The Dolby Vision HDR presentation brings out a richer palette that makes the low-budget horror flick feels more spirited and life-like, presenting a sumptuous array of primaries alongside more vibrant and dynamic secondary hues. Enhanced details in the darkest shadows and brighter highlights contribute to an exceptionally clear image. This veritable leap in quality from a direct-to-video release to what can be considered a top-notch restoration showcases "Uncle Sam" in a light never seen before, making it a must-have for both aficionados of horror cinema and enthusiasts of technical video quality.

    Audio: 90

    The audio presentation of the 4K UHD Blu-ray of "Uncle Sam" features two primary audio tracks: an English Dolby Atmos track and an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, complemented by optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles. The new Dolby Atmos track, which is compatible with 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, offers a notable leap in audio quality from previous releases, particularly enriching the film's dynamic range and surround sound experience. Despite the film's low-budget origins and its inherent sound design limitations, there is a discernible improvement in sound spatialization, with clearer dialogue and more defined surround movement, enhancing both ambient sequences and the more action-packed scenes.

    While the Dolby Atmos track impressively manages the nuanced dynamics and effectively utilizes the height channels to add a layer of depth to the audio experience, the overall soundscape does not consistently deliver a genuinely immersive experience. Sporadic activities in the rears and overhead channels contribute to moments of surprise, yet they often come across as artificial and insufficiently integrated into a cohesive auditory environment. The front soundstage benefits more substantially from the object-based format, with atmospheric sounds extending into the height channels and vocals remaining distinct and intelligible in the center channel. Channel separation across the front is commendable, providing a slightly more balanced and detailed acoustic profile.

    Despite its limitations, including a sound design that does not always fully exploit the potential of the Atmos format, this release represents an upgraded audio experience for "Uncle Sam," particularly when compared to its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 counterpart. The low-end packs an unexpectedly robust punch in action sequences, offering some compensation for the otherwise limited and uniform imaging. With better clarity and movement in both tracks, and considering its genre and production constraints, this audio upgrade signifies a commendable effort to enhance a cult B-horror film for its home theater audience.

    Extra: 83

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray edition of "Uncle Sam" delivers a comprehensive suite of extras that cater to fans and cinephiles alike, retaining the depth and breadth of bonus content from earlier releases. The archival commentaries stand out, featuring engaging discussions by director Bill Lustig, writer Larry Cohen, and producer George G. Braunstein on the film’s genesis, casting decisions, and socio-political undertones, with the first commentary offering rich anecdotes and the second, led by Lustig and Isaac Hayes, diving into the film's technical aspects. The inclusion of a newly restored trailer, a revealing deleted scene, an amusing Gag Reel, and riveting Fire Stunts footage accompanied by Spiro Razatos’ commentary, not to mention the extensive Poster & Still Gallery, illustrates the team's dedication to providing a deeper understanding of the film’s production. The reversible cover art rounds off this collection, making it a must-have for collectors and enthusiasts of genre cinema.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentaries: Archival commentaries featuring insights from the director, writer, and producer.
    • Fire Stunts: Behind-the-scenes look at the film's fire stunts with commentary by stunt coordinator.
    • Deleted Scene: A brief, previously unseen scene from the movie.
    • Gag Reel: A compilation of humorous outtakes and bloopers.
    • Poster & Still Gallery: A collection of promotional materials and production photos.
    • Trailer: The film’s originally rated R theatrical trailer, restored for this edition.

    Movie: 71

    Bill Lustig's "Uncle Sam," a marvel from the late '90s, brings to 4K UHD Blu-ray an intriguing blend of horror, black comedy, and slasher elements. Its release under Blue Underground, curated for its 25th Anniversary, showcases not just the film but Lustig's knack for melding genre motifs with a searing critique on American patriotism. Courtesy of a new 4K master approved by Lustig himself, this presentation breathes new life into a film that, despite its budget constraints and straight-to-video fate, crafts a niche spectacle from the fabric of societal commentary. The Ultra HD Blu-ray comes packaged with a plethora of supplementary features, including audio commentaries and archival materials, ensuring a compelling experience for both new audiences and devotees.

    The thematic roots of "Uncle Sam" find parallels with Bob Clark's "Deathdream," sharing a foundational narrative of a soldier's posthumous return, albeit with distinct narrative expressions. In "Uncle Sam," the undead soldier’s vendetta against unpatriotic townsfolk is executed with a unique blend of horror schlock and tongue-in-cheek humor, substantiated by a commendable cast featuring genre stalwarts like Isaac Hayes and Robert Forster. Though it might not reinvent the slasher genre with its night killings, its political undertones and the critique on patriotism injected into this horror comedy framework elevate it above mere genre conformities. This fusion, alongside technical merits like the film's widescreen shooting and the new 4K restoration, propels "Uncle Sam" beyond its original straight-to-video obscurity into a cultural artifact deserving reevaluation.

    Despite its initial reception and inherent limitations, the film intriguingly explores patriotism, with Lustig’s direction and Cohen's imaginative script providing a socio-political layer that’s both farcical and poignant. The low-budget production values, rather than hindering, enrich the film’s charm, showcasing how constraints can indeed foster creativity. With stellar performances anchoring the absurd premise - an undead soldier’s patriotic rampage - "Uncle Sam" stands out as a subversive take on national pride, reflective of Lustig's broader cinematic aspirations and his dedication to high-quality remastering work at Blue Underground. This release, therefore, isn't just an anniversary celebration but a testament to the lasting impact of genre filmmaking infused with socio-political commentary.

    Total: 84

    Uncle Sam," a distinctly niche piece in the horror genre, receives a 4K Ultra HD release that manages to shine a new light on this William Lustig/Larry Cohen collaboration. The film itself, draped in unintentional humor and a premise that borders on the absurd, leverages its socially-aware narrative to offer not just a few good laughs but also a peculiar form of patriotism that targets draft dodgers, crooked politicians, and flag burners alike. This release, marking the 25th anniversary of "Uncle Sam," is celebrated by Blue Underground with a stunning 4K restoration that surprises and delights. Particularly for fans who haven't revisited the film since its original release, the upgrade in visual quality, attributed to the Dolby Vision HDR presentation, brings about a significant improvement over previous Blu-ray releases. While the film may fall short of being branded as a hidden genre masterpiece, missing the opportunity to delve as deeply into its themes as contemporaries like "Deathdream" or "Jacob's Ladder," it nonetheless stands as an engaging watch when viewed in the right context—preferably with a group of friends on a laid-back afternoon.

    Technical aspects of this release underscore Blue Underground's commitment to quality. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack, though not standing out as much as the visual improvements, represents a notable enhancement from its DTS-HD Master Audio predecessor, adding an immersive layer to the viewing experience. Despite the audio not reaching the heights of its visual counterpart, it is a welcome addition to the overall package. Supplements provided mirror those of past releases, but the main selling point clearly lies in the exclusive new 4K restoration and the Dolby Vision imagery.

    In conclusion, "Uncle Sam" in 4K Ultra HD comes highly recommended for a specific audience—lovers of low-budget schlock with a tolerance for campy humor and a penchant for 90s horror nostalgia. Blue Underground's release excels in breathing new life into this lesser-known flick, ensuring that its visuals stun and surprise in equal measure. While it might not convert the uninitiated into fans overnight, for those already fond of "Uncle Sam," this release represents a significant upgrade that enhances every viewing detail from picture quality to sound design. A satisfactory UHD package through and through, it secures its place as a worthwhile addition to any horror aficionado's collection.