Sweetie and I have wanted to see this movie since we first heard the title. The juxtaposition of ideas was intriguing – a solemn, revered president of yore, secretly a bad-ass slayer. The whole idea was irresistible. When the reviews were mixed and the overall rating low, Sweetie waffled. In spite of his doubts, we went and I’m glad we did.
Author Seth Grahame-Smith adapted his own book for the Tim Burton produced film, and I think that might have made all the difference in the world. One of my favorite films ever is the Tim Burton film Ed Wood, but he’s made some real stinkers too. I find I’m most happy with movies where he assumes only one role and doesn’t try to be all things – writer, director and producer. And although I have great respect for screen writers everywhere, I’m glad the author of the novel adapted it for the film. Grahame-Smith, in the movie as well as the book, has told a hero’s story so well it was boilerplate Joseph Campbell.
As a small child, Abe stands up against injustice, coming to the defense of a young black friend who is being hauled off to be sold as a slave. His parents support him, and as a result his father is fired, his debt immediately due. That night, Abe watches as the slave-trading boss sneaks through their door and bites his mother, revealing frightening vampire fangs and supernatural eyes. The mother dies soon after from a blood disease that perplexes doctors, and Abe grows to adulthood with vengeance in his heart as well as guilt for standing by and watching his mother be attacked, for being too young and weak to defend her.
It’s classic. Abe makes a clumsy attempt to avenge his mother’s murder, but only wounds the villain and is rescued from certain death by a man who would become his mentor and school him in the ways of vampire hunting. He begins to lead a dual life, studying law, working in a shop to pay the bills, and courting the lovely Mary Todd. After Lincoln finally kills his nemesis, he retires his sword to live a ‘normal’ life as a husband and promising politician. But Abe can’t turn his back on the public he has vowed to serve. In a neat twist on history, southern plantation owners are actually vampires, using slaves as a food source as well as field hands. The war between the states and the freedom of the slaves affects more than southern commerce, it threatens to do away with the easy supply of blood for the well connected vampires pulling the strings of society. As casualties stack up, Lincoln has doubts, but he perseveres even in the face of a devastating family loss.
I LOVED it! I’ll admit, I am frequently the Russian judge, nitpicking style and technique. I got all academic on the Snow White movie , but I’ve got no complaints here. The plot was good, the pacing was spot-on, there were enough historical elements to make it intriguing, and enough action to keep my eyes riveted to the screen. Normally I struggle to suspend disbelief (odd in a fantasy writer, I know), but the premise of this movie was so absurd, that I went in expecting wild flights of fancy. I wasn’t disappointed. Seeing Abraham Lincoln, with his trademark beard and black suit, swinging an axe like a pair on nunchucks and lopping off vampire heads delighted me beyond belief. Even the CGI horse stampede scene didn’t bother me. Just relax and enjoy it. You’ll never look at a five dollar bill the same way again.