Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

UPDATE - I TOTALLY FORGOT:  I was joking about this months ago to my friends, but I never mentioned this in the review, though I meant to.  "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is actually a huge rip-off of a joke from "Party Down", in which the main character is offered a part in as Lincoln in the movie "Edgar Allan Poe: Vampire Hunter".  Somehow Seth Grahame-Smith managed to steal this idea and get a movie made, but sadly without Adam Scott as Lincoln.  If Adam was in this movie, I would have like this piece of shit.  Thanks to Red Letter Media for reminding me.  Now the real review can continue:

I'm going to have to be careful writing this review, because I could very easily let this disintegrate into a furious tirade at the most horrifically stupid movie I've seen all year.  Or worse, I could fall into my history nerd persona and nitpick all the historical problems of this movie.  I mean, you have Abraham Lincoln, fighting vampires, already this makes no sense on any level.  But I was okay with that, at least, you need to accept that one idea as part of the movie's premise.  However, Mary-Todd Lincoln isn't crazy?  Lincoln isn't depressive?  James Speed is Lincoln's BFF for some reason?  Screw you, movie!

Nothing about the premise of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" fits.  Abraham Lincoln was not a warrior, he was a lawyer, an intellectual statesman who believed strongly in an ordered society.  Nothing about Lincoln's achievements as a statesman, as a revolutionary who redefined what America stood for, as a civil rights figure, or as anything else had to do with being a kung-fu master fighting vampires.  And I guess that's the joke, that Lincoln is the last history figure who should be a superhero.  But "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is not a comedy.  The idea probably began as an ironic inversion of a beloved President's career and purpose in our national history, but at some point an idiot director got behind the project and decided that this needed to be a straight action movie.  You know, as if people actually want to see Lincoln fight the undead, as if that actually is a cool idea.  No surprise, its done by a barbarian named "Timur Bekmambetov", who recently produced "Apollo 18", that movie where the fictional Apollo 18 mission gets eaten by MOON ROCKS.  And while "Apollo 18" was just good cheesey fun, this is just wretchedly stupid.  All because somehow, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is no way a comedy.

Actually, "Abraham Lincoln: STUPID Hunter" is a good cross-section of just about every movie trend these days that is terrible.  Twenty years from now "Vampire Hunter" is going to be a perfectly hilarious example of silly 2010s movie styles, as dated in that time as something like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3" is today.  The entire film has two colors:  blue and orange.  The action scenes stink of CG everywhere, and there is not a single attack, not one swing of an ax, that doesn't use gratuitous slow motion attacks.  Nothing seems real, the action is too over the top, its just stupid.  "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is the worst mess of a movie I've seen all year.  Stupid does not even begin to describe it, which is why I'll use that word twenty-one times in this review.

I do not actually know who "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is made for.  I still do not fully understand the thought process behind this movie, which had left me confused the first time I ever heard about this movie.  "ALVH"* is based on a book of the same name, written by Seth Grahame-Smith, the same guy who wrote "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies".  Grahame-Smith's novels always seemed like interesting throw-away jokes in a sitcom, like I can imagine the Simpsons drivings past a marquee with "ALVH" on the cover.  Or they could be nice joke gifts for a relative you barely know at Christmas.  But I don't think people actually read them, the joke has to wear thin really fast.  My personal favorite book of this genre(?) is "Android Karenina", not I've actually read it.  The title makes me chuckle, and I think that's all they're meant to do.  So when you go so far as to actually write the book, and then even further, make a movie about that book, already you've lost sight of the point of the gag.  The joke has gone way too far, its long past funny.  Now its just sad.  No, a better word is "stupid".

Lincoln in this movie apparently is Batman, because he's on a quest for vengeances because his Mom was eaten by a vampire.  So Lincoln studies under Dominic Cooper, an expert vampire killer extradinaire, who totally is not a vampire himself.  No, don't think that for a second despite his gelled Edward Cullen haircut and constant use of sunglasses.  Stop being too smart for the movie!  Anyway, Lincoln goes around swinging an ax and kills vampires every so often.  He has a best friend in Joshua Fry Speed**, and another in the escaped slave, William Johnson, Lincoln's Token Black BFF***.  Ramona Flowers plays Mary-Todd Lincoln, who unfortunately does not join in the vampire hunting, but is in this movie because you need Mary-Todd in Lincoln's life.  Mary-Todd leaves no impression on me of any kind****.  Still, the new world is full of vampiric terrors, so Lincoln goes on a vigilante killing spree, destroying every single vampire he knows just because they're vampires.  Which is really funny since Lincoln was usually so high-minded in judging people by their personal dignity and not their background, but I guess one has to draw the line at the undead.  Kill them all, ask questions later.

Again, this movie totally misses the point so badly.  Lincoln is a vampire racist.  No questions on whether vampires could actually be good people (like Dominic Cooper is but we're not supposed to know that yet), no questions on whether what he's doing is murder.  No, Lincoln is just a mindless killer.  What the offensively stupid Hell?

"ALVH"'s first half focuses on Young Lincoln fighting vampires.  This is when he learns the terrible truth behind slavery.  Apparently there is no sophisticated social or economic reasons for the institution of slavery, the whole reason is because vampires rule the South.  So America is totally vindicated for the slave question, we don't have to feel guilty about that anymore, because it was the vampires.  Lincoln's entire career of fighting slavery was not because he wanted to help out African Americans or because he thought slavery was particularly evil, no, it was the undermine the vampires' supply of blood.  Instead of using an ax, Lincoln decides to run for office entirely because of his hatred of vampires.  Everything he ever achieved in his life, everything Lincoln stood for?  Vampires, that's the answer for everything.  Stupid stupid stupid stupid.

It would be fine if at any point this movie seemed to realize the irony of what it was doing, if at any point it just gave me a knowing wink like "yeah, this is some stupid shit, right?"  But no.  It appears to really think this is stupid vampire crap makes for compelling cinema.  It seems to really think that Abraham Lincoln belongs in this vampire story, even when the WHOLE POINT of the joke was that he didn't.

Also, we learn that Dominic Cooper is a vampire now.  You weren't supposed to know it before, but you know you're allowed. The pacing of this movie just feels all wrong.  A lot of scenes have a real disconnect, like it feels like they should have happened twenty minutes ago.  Lincoln kills vampires for about twenty minutes of screentime, several months in story time, and then the Vampire King only then learns about his first kill.  Dominic Cooper trains Lincoln entirely for weeks, and then we cut to scene that obviously takes place the morning after they meet because their cloths are all different.  The movie looks cut to shit.  And it never seems to pick up the right pace, it remains joyless and colorless (because its fucking blue and orange the entire time) right up until Lincoln gets a beard.  By then, I was so pissed off and bored that I just couldn't care anymore.  It was too late.

The second half of "ALVH" actually features Lincoln as President in the Civil War.  Unfortunately, the Confederacy has allied itself with the vampires, so normal mortal weapons won't work.  This is an easy fix, because vampires are weak to silver.  Lincoln then melts down a lot of silver, drives a train personally to Gettysburg, slays the Vampire King, and wins the war.  You know, because the Civil War wasn't won because of any kind of complex strategy or technological superiority or moral certitude, it was won because of an action climax over a burning mile-high wooden bridge in Pennsylvania.  STUPID.  Unfortunately Lincoln's son***** is killed by a vampire bitch, so Mary-Todd kills her.  STUPID.  Lincoln then goes to a play, refusing Dominic Coopers offer to live forever as a vampire.  Then he goes to a play.  STUPID.  Then the movie ends when its full of STUPID STUPID STUPID THIS MOVIE IS SO GODDAMN STUPID.

Its been awhile since I've seen such a solidly bad movie in theatres.  I don't know how to handle it.  I haven't seen something I've so detested since "Green Lantern".  Nothing works here.  Nothing.  As a horror movie, it is entirely not scary, nothing about this movie even approaches scary.  There's a lot of action, but very little of it is actually exciting because the fight scenes would last thirty seconds if not for Zack Snyder-style slow motion.  There's nothing remotely funny about the movie either, you can giggle about the title, that's it.  "ALVH" is a movie you tell people you're going to see, and people ask "why??"  Then when you finally get back, you have no idea what insane quixotic idea brought you to the theatre in the first place.  And finally, as a historical drama its a fucking movie about Lincoln fighting vampires.  It totally missed the point.  Even as a cheesey B-movie film, its too well-done and cliched to actually hit any kind of trendy vibe.  The movie need more  Grindhouse cheap special effects and a lot more one-liners.  "A house divided by the undead cannot stand!"  "Four score and seven years ago I kicked your ass!"  "Emancipate this!"  There's none of that.

I'll give this movie one thing:  the vampires wear some really badass vintage sunglasses.  I want them.  So I can give "ALVH" one compliment.  Everything else is a failure.  I mean, it wasn't boring, but I still wanted to leave the cinema halfway through.  It was painfully bad.  If this were just a well-meaning silly SciFi Original Movie or an Asylum film, I could forgive the mistakes here.  But millions of dollars were spent on this movie, and nobody seems to care about anything here.  It was yet another movie that nobody seems to actually believe in, that nobody loves.  A total waste of everybody's time, including mine.  Including yours!  Why did you read all the way down here for this!


Another Update:  I totally got Karl Urban and Dominic Cooper mixed up in the first draft and then I left that on for about a week before realizing my mistake.  This review is just terrible, honestly.  I make a lot of mistakes writing my stuff, but this is by far my most embarrassing one.

* I'm using the abbreviation from now on.  You try typing out "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" twenty times.

** Who actually was Lincoln's real dear friend and partner in a general store in Springfield.  However, he did not fight vampires, he did not go to Washington with Lincoln - instead his brother James Speed went.  It appears that this movie mixed the two Speed brothers together into one person, who inexplicably dies fighting vampires, when both Speed brothers lived to a nice old age beyond the Civil War.

*** One might assume that William Johnson was just the creation of a Hollywood writer trying to iron out the troubled racial history of the time.  This was not true, William Johnson was Lincoln's real personal valet and he really went with Lincoln to Washington, getting a few minor jobs thanks to patronage.  However, William Johnson was not a slave, he never fought vampires.  And he died of smallpox, which he was tragically infected with by Lincoln himself on the return trip from Gettysburg where Lincoln had just given a certain speech of some historical importance.  This, like all the interesting parts of Lincoln's life, are ignored in this movie.

**** The real Mary-Todd would have been much more interesting.  She was chronically depressed like her husband, suffered from severe headaches, and so peculiar in her behavior that historians now speculate she had bipolar disorder.  After surrounded by so many deaths, including two sons, Mary-Todd would go completely insane.  This led to a huge public scandal between Mary-Todd and her son, Robert Lincoln, an argument that was never actually settled.  Personally, Mary-Todd sounds like a much more frightening woman than any vampire.

***** Lincoln had four sons, two of which died in his lifetime.  One was already mostly grown when Lincoln died.  None of this is mentioned int he movie.  Neither died due to vampires in any way.


  1. This movie features a vampire throwing a horse at Abraham Lincoln. That alone is worth the price of admission.

  2. "...A total waste of everybody's time, including mine. Including yours! Why did you read all the way down here for this!"

    I just wanted to read your opinion on what's just another cheap money-grabbing waste of film space and stock with no thoughtful plot-driven purpose whatsoever. You're an interesting writer, and your penchant for historical detail evens out the idiocy of this film. Can't wait until you review Durarara!! Well, if you find the time, that is.

  3. yeah, it was a okay okay only movie for me.
    anyways, take care~

    http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

  4. Yeah I feel you Blue. I tried going in with my nitpicking part of my brain off, but after awhile I just couldn't take it any more. The very concept sounds like something that should be a B-movie that you and your friends get drunk and watch. But the one good thing that came out of this is that it got me interested in the book which was way better then the movie.

  5. I think there is some appeal to playing the movie's joke completely straight.I thought Blue would like the movie. BTW did you know Benjamin Franklin used to wear a badge that deflected lightning?

  6. Aw, I loved this movie. What's wrong with wanting a Vampire Hunter president? We all know it's stupid, but you are going into a movie called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.