12 Days of Halloween – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Day 5

Ah B-movie horror…one of my true vices in life. I do love at times watching some entertaining “horror” fluff. Though B-movie horror is not limited to only cheaply made knock-offs, oh no sometimes B-movie horror does include a bit of a budget. Enter Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a name such as this fits the B-movie horror mold I considered for this day in particular. Over the top action, stylish but obscene and goofy when looked at seriously, a plot filled with ridiculous clichés and ultimately the gall to take itself seriously. This is B-horror even if the budget is more substantial and the style more appealing. It’s easy to want to watch an Uwe Boll movie and talk it down, but I’m gladder I got something more substantial in the long run.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as a concept is stupidly fun. Rewriting history to have one of the most well-received presidents of the United States be a vampire hunter is certainly something that comes out of left field and the plot follows suit. It goes from the poor beginnings of Abraham all the way until the deaths of his child and the civil war. This could easily be considered an epic if it actually dedicated time to fleshing out the entirety of this films coverage of history, yet it decides on a far more rushed pace that loses itself in its last sequences. Leaping from sequence to sequence and watching Abraham age without growing or jumping to conclusions just to be slightly historically accurate fights the very nature of this film. The complexities of discussing racial issues and about human morality when posed with several questions are hard to take seriously when you saw not too long ago a CGI chase sequence atop of horses where horses flew everywhere. This is not a film where you try to get serious with themes and content, when in fact most of the time its racial issues are glossed over for fighting scenes.

Attack on Vampire Trains?!

This story ultimately is ridiculous especially when you rewrite history to make vampires an important piece in the civil war fighting for the south. For the most part I did enjoy the film’s wonderful style and pizazz when it came to Abraham the vampire hunter and not Abraham the president. Wonderfully over the top and gleefully aware of how fun it is supposed to be is where the beginning has it completely right. Abraham and his banter between his mentor Henry, makes for some fun discussions and when Abraham is young is where we get the fun campy film we desired from its namesake. When you reach Abraham the president they take the undercurrents of slavery and racism and shove it right into the foreground making the entirety of the final act about fighting the vampiric southern army. It is hard to take serious material without scratching your head on the tone shift into more heavy-handed discussions revolving around Mary Todd.

Anthony Mackie…he was in this film. I haven’t mentioned his character yet because he really isn’t that integral to anything and often looks like he wandered onto set when you compare him to the amount of make-up put on Benjamin Walker to look older. He is pretty much a catalyst for a few events within the film and that is about it, as he does fight in the final act. Benjamin Walker as Abraham though is no Daniel Day Lewis, but he certainly does elevate the ridiculousness of its central premise into a more heartfelt territory. You can believe in his actions, they feel sincere when he reads a line and each swing of that axe feels like it has gravitas behind it. Dominic Cooper was fun as the mentor Henry, yet I feel he was far too underused in the grand scheme of things. One could easily have a movie centered around his character for it being a slightly more compelling story than the one presented even in its small flashback sequence. The rage and control he has is played pretty well which makes it sad when you seem him at times for only snippets.

He just wants a bite? What’s so wrong with that?

The vampire legion under Rufus Sewell is glorious in the design aspect. While not my favourite vampire design put to film, there is homage paid to the monstrous aspect of the creatures. The wide jaw, sharp slobbering fangs, the glassy eyes, it is well done and certainly holds up compared to other vampire films like say Blade. Memorability is everything and there is no lack of it in these vampires…except when you consider their actual characters. Design wise they work, in combat they truly can create some interesting scenarios worth watching the spectacle of it all. Though none of the vampire personas are worth mentioning since all of them are quite bland overall and lack dimension or desperation in the grand scheme of things. You’d think having their very existence threatened would cause them to panic in dire scenarios, but they still have those bland reactions throughout the entire film. Csokas is one of the unsung heroes who revels in his role and is arguably one of the more believable vampires despite the little scenes he was in. Sinister and utterly hateful, despite being a more two dimensional villain, Csokas was the only one I could say was memorable. All you need to be for a vampire role is to look uninterested in humans and monstrous when vampires right?

This film is as B-movie as it comes with its poorly written and hammy plot that has pacing issues due to how much history it wishes to rewrite. Its style in action sections and the likability of its main lead do at times halt the soap opera tone it conveys in multiple scenes nearing its end, but it is over-weighed when it comes to the end of the day. There aren’t many memorable characters done in this film which is disappointing considering some of the talent who I know can give stand out performances when given the right role. Whenever the fights take place, I never found myself disinterested even with the obvious CGI in some scenes. It was inventive and obviously creative with both its shot compositions and how engaged it is especially when Walker fights Csokas as Jack Barts. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter may be fun for the most part, but it ultimately succumbs to its poor pacing and inability to stop itself from including serious scenes and themes which were hard to take seriously under the circumstances.

Rating: C-

Other Recommendations:

Blade (1998) – Yes I harped on Blade’s vampires, but if you are looking for the better film it is the clear choice. It retains that hammy nature but plays it to a T, making for some very interesting if not physics defying action scenes. If you are a fan of overblown action films involving supernatural beings then Blade will not lead you astray.

Lincoln (2012) – This is more of a blind recommendation, but this film has been praised numerous times and has won an Oscar for Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance of Abraham. The praise was universal for his portrayal and if you loved Walker in the role, then this would be the best choice for something similar to its themes and focus in the final parts. If you wanted a better told piece on Abraham that could take itself seriously and work this is your best bet.

Well I guess I had a certain level of hilarity predicted for this title, but it was a nicer watch than Most Likely to Die. Almost at the halfway mark now, and hopefully I will hit that with an anime that has enough gravitas to give me a perfect milestone. Well with that being said, do you guys like B-Horror films? Put a comment down below and hope you have a great day!


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