“Hi, my name is David Shark. If you ever need a stand-in, backup,
or someone to take a hit or a fall, please consider me.”
-David “Shark” Fralick to the producers on the set of Revenge of the Nerds II
What do you get when you combine soul singer Isaac Hayes, a zombified United States veteran, and one helluva potato sack race? The 1997 William Lustig B-horror film Uncle Sam, of course!
Director: William Lustig; Writer: Larry Cohen
Cast: William Smith, David “Shark” Fralick, Christopher Ogden, Bo Hopkins, Timothy Bottoms, P.J. Soles, Leslie Neale, Isaac Hayes
Synopsis: After some teens burn an American flag over his burial site, a Desert Storm vet who was killed in combat rises from the grave on July 4th to kill the unpatriotic citizens of his hometown.
For at least the last decade, I’ve popped in my copy of Uncle Sam on (or close to) the 4th of July holiday. Several years ago, on a brutally hot day, a bunch of us watched the film on laserdisc. (The number of fans going that afternoon may have outnumbered the friends visiting.) Years before that I sat in a college dorm room (I had been working on campus that summer painting interiors of buildings) watching the film on the Blue Underground DVD release.
Regardless of the format, I know for a fact lots of horror fans bask in the patriotic mayhem of this Bill Lustig Independence Day slasher — and for good reason! It’s a lot of fun and, despite its flaws, is a great film to watch once a year with a group of buddies (or patient spouses…)
After some Internet searching, I managed to locate the towering beast of a man who played good ol’ (Uncle) Sam Harper — a back-from-the-dead Desert Storm vet hellbent on cutting down any and all anti-American hoodlums he can find. As soon as I initially made contact with him, I knew David “Shark” Fralick was a super cool, down to earth dude — mainly because he signed his first email to me as “Master Sergeant Sam Harper.” Turns out Fralick has been one busy guy these last few decades and, as they say in professional wrestling, has taken more than his fair share of bumps along the way.
From playing a litany of high school and college sports (water skiing, tennis, rugby, surfing), Fralick was also a member of the 1979 championship football in Alabama (he was part of the 1979 championship team, on which he played wide receiver or, as he puts it, “tackle dummy”). What’s more, and to my surprise, Fralick actually has a legitimate military background, adding another element of coolness to his role in Uncle Sam.
From Navy and Air Force ROTC programs to stunt work in Hollywood, Fralick is — simply put — a badass. And he’s hardly slowing down. Just as I caught up with him to talk about Uncle Sam, he was en route to Canada with a full calendar of filming, teaching, and charity events. Oh, and he’s also been doing marital arts for as long as he can remember, though likely since “probably five or six years old.”
The Makeup and the Music: Memorable Moments for Fralick on the Set of Uncle Sam
I loved the original idea — that he was this patriotic killer. I loved the concept. Then there was all of the makeup sessions. (I didn’t do the burn, but I did all the rest of the stunt work.) It was four and a half hours in makeup and four and a half hours out of it. It really just tore my skin up. What they do is they use alcohol on skin to get the oils off so that everything they needed to put on you would adhere. It was pretty amazing. In fact, I still have the last mask I wore in the film!
Meeting Isaac Hayes on set was amazing. He had two albums come out that when you put them together. they formed part of his head and face. He was nice enough to sign both of the records for me, which of course I still have. He was such a gentleman. His music was (and still is!) so legendary.
*For Real? A Military Man in Uncle Sam and in Real Life
I was ex-military to start with, which I think was why they originally hired me. Because of that training I could be patient and had a high tolerance for pain (I don’t bitch and complain). I really started young: first with the tadpoles, then I went to the fleet cadets, the Naval ROTC, and then I transferred to the Air Force when I went to college. But I essentially grew up on ships and went through all of the training.
In the beginning (I remember really wanting to be a SEAL but I’ve never had much fat on my body and so soaking in the water — here in California and especially with no wetsuit on — you’ll get hypothermia in an hour and a half). So from there I wanted to be a pilot and went through the Air Force ROTC down in Alabama, went to Maxwell Air Force Base, and went through all of the OTS (Officer Training School) training there.
Sam was Almost Jason: Fralick Reflects on Almost Facing Off with Freddy Krueger
When I was on “The Young and the Restless,” you had to give the producers at least six months’ notice to take four or five weeks off — because the writers are constantly developing the story — and I was up for the part of Jason Voorhees in Freddy vs. Jason and I even had a call back but I had to turn it down because it was shooting a few weeks later. [The “Y&R” producers] wouldn’t let me have the time off to do it. It would have been so cool to have been part of the Freddy/Jason franchise.
Uncle Sam Hopes to Be the Next Horror Convention Recruit
I’d love to do something like a fan convention, though it’s all about coordinating it. It’d be great to spend two days, one doing a fan meet-and-greet/autograph session and the second day doing a screening of the film. Maybe with William Lustig!
Master Sergeant Sam Harper and I would like to wish you all a Happy 4th of July!