June 26, 2012
by J.D. Cook
The premise is so absurd it raised my interest. I bought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for my now former girlfriend in a bus station book store. So it was at that moment that I was made aware of this new trend of writing books infused with horror pop culture. It was such a silly idea that I actually liked it. Well, I will like it until someone refers to zombies in the actual Pride and Prejudice or about Lincoln’s real life exploits as a vampire hunter. Anyway, this article is not focused on the overall trend but more specifically on the first of those books to be turned into a film – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer. The film itself is a lot more straightforward then I thought it would be. Obviously, I was not expecting a grand epic or something deep and complex but I was still surprised. For those of you who haven’t yet seen the film and intend to do so STOP READING HERE! The rest of you, just keep your eyes where they are.
I came in expecting this film to take place entirely before Lincoln was President and to be somehow be squished into a period of his life that did not have a huge deal of information about it. Instead the film just blatantly rewrites Lincoln’s history. I liked this! This was something that I think Inglorious Basterds first got the most attention for doing. Up until that film, many stories placed in historical settings took pains to try and fit into conventional history. Inglorious Basterds changed that with “Operation Kino” and a large amount of lead in Hitler’s face.
The story within this film is fairly simple. Vampires have existed in the new world for centuries and use the slave trade to feed themselves without drawing too much attention. Lincoln’s mother is killed by a vampire, which sets him on his path of vengeance. In the quest he is trained by a good vampire and teams up with a shop keeper and a free born African American. The film is entertaining enough at the beginning but slows a bit in the middle. I was most enamored with the scene in which Lincoln emerges as his elder and more familiar self. As he strides on screen with his familiar beard and top hat, we are treated to an almost super hero-esque moment. It’s done as if Lincoln has just dawned his yellow spandex for the first time. Finally the film culminates with vampires aligning with the South so as to create a new Vampire Nation and to preserve the slave trade. They are defeated when Lincoln tricks them into attacking a train they think is filled with silver (which can kill vampires in the film) while the real silver is taken by Mary Todd and the Underground Railroad to the Union soldiers on the front lines. It was a minor twist, but it actually took me by surprise since I wasn’t putting a huge amount of cognitive ability into deciphering the plot.
My problems with the film are that it seemed far too short. Yes, the plot was accomplished free of holes (which is something Prometheus could not do), but the film doesn’t spend quite enough time developing its characters or the love story between Lincoln and Mary Todd. The acting was nothing to write home about but it was not terrible either. There are also a few less ridiculous scenes then I expected as the story almost took itself a bit too seriously at times. I guess in conclusion, this film was about right what I expected it to be. I got to see Lincoln kill some vampires with an axe that was also a gun. Unless this is a vision you can’t immediately live without, I’d say wait for this one on Netflix.
PS – I am so sick of Vampires and Zombies! They have been so overused lately that they do not entertain me at all anymore.