Today would be the 209th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president. Though revered as a secular saint in the USA, his legacy is hotly debated among my fellow libertarians. Thus I’ve decided that instead of writing about the historical Lincoln, I’d review the 2012 alternate-history fantasy film Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter which was directed by Timur Bekmambetov. My long-time favorite Tim Burton was the movie’s producer, which probably explained why despite the silly source material, it was not entirely bad. The movie’s score on Metacritic was a dismal 42 out of 100 based on 35 reviews.
The film is based on the book by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the best-selling literary-horror mashup Pride and Prejudice with Zombies. It’s a clever concept, and I’ve never read either of these books, though I think it would really challenging to keep it interesting over an entire book.
I saw the movie a few years back and I remember being impressed with Abe’s weapon of choice, a silver-plated ax. There’s something satisfying about the idea of destroying evil with your own hands. I also remember laughing at how the Rebels employed a legion of vampires – all white racists, of course. Unfortunately, I had to read the movie’s article on Wikipedia to refresh my memory.
It begins with Abe Lincoln as a youth coming to the aid of a young black boy being beaten by the plantation overseer Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), which in turn leads to Abe’s father losing his job and his mother’s death from a mysterious ailment. Years later, Lincoln (played by Benjamin Walker) seeks revenge on the evil overseer, who turns out to be a vampire. Abe is almost killed before being rescued by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper.) Sturges takes Lincoln to Springfield where he trains him to be a vampire hunter. Later we discover that Sturges is himself a vampire. He seeks revenge against Adam, the New Orleans vampire king who turned him, and must do so indirectly vampires can’t harm their own kind. After a fun training montage, Lincoln destroys Barts, then abandons his anti-vampire mission to enter politics.
As you’d expect, the undead come back to plague Lincoln again. Vampires, who are concentrated in the South, use slaves as their food source. Lincoln’s anti-slavery campaign threatens their sustenance. Thus the vampire matriarch Vadoma kills Abe’s young son in retaliation. Eventually, the Confederacy creates the aforementioned legion of vampires to fight the Union, but Lincoln defeats them by manufacturing ammunition from the citizens’ household silver. The movie’s exciting conclusion features some over-the-top battles between Lincoln and Adam on a train and a one-on-one duel between Mary Todd Lincoln and Vadoma.
One last note: if you’re curious about the libertarian issues with Lincoln, read the book The Real Lincoln by Thomas di Lorenzo. It shows a different side of the Great Emancipator. But if you want laughs and some mindless entertainment, you’ll probably enjoy Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.