Throughout Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I sat there giggling at the outrageous revisionist history, thinking, “Oh, my mom would HATE this!!!” My parents are Lincoln groupies. They’ve been to Springfield, Illinois to visit the town where Lincoln was a young lawyer. They’ve stood on the mount where Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address. They’ve gone of a tour of Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated. Now, re-imagine all of those scenarios with vampires!!!
There is a huge amount of suspension of disbelief involved here, right from the beginning, where dad Lincoln’s shifty racist boss (a vampire!) steals into young Abe’s home and kills Abraham Lincoln’s mom (!!!). As Abe grows into a young man (Benjamin Walker), he is bent on revenge, but quickly finds out that a bullet through the eyeball of the oily murderer (Marton Csokas) doesn’t actually kill him. In steps mysterious Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) who teaches young, tall Abe the ways of vampire killing. As Abe is not so good at loading a pistol, he concentrates on weilding a silver-tipped axe to slay the fangy demons.
It is hard not to giggle at images of the top-hatted, tall, lanky (and oh so iconic) silhouette of one of America’s greatest presidents, as he strides in slow-motion–backlit like a super hero with axe in hand and trenchcoat flapping behind him. Watch Abe spin his axe through the air in training sessions right out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Watch famous historical figures come and go in this ridiculous new mythhology, blending loose fact with fiction, just like in Xena: Warrior Princess. OMG, there’s Harriet Tubman! There’s Jefferson Davis, consorting with the vampire leader of the South (Rufus Sewell)! There’s Stephen Douglas (who I think shows up just so Alan Tudyk can show up to delight the fanboys and girls)!
This story seems it should almost be sacriligeous, especially for history buffs like myself. I mean, my god, this movie proclaims that Gettysburg was initially almost won by the South because of Confederate vampire soldiers, with the tide turning only because the Union soldiers got their hands on silver ammunition. I *know*! Crazy! But so crazy that it works. I loved shows like Buffy and Xena because as silly as they were, their mythology made sense in context. In that same way, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter takes a ridiculous idea and not only makes it work, but makes it surprisingly entertaining.