COLUMN: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter stakes out the movies

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By Linda Ireland

 I celebrated my birthday over the weekend.

I received a visit from my daughter’s family and my brother on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, my husband Bud took me to see “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” at the theater.

I read the Seth Grahame-Smith novel by the same name a year ago. I really liked it – and liked the movie slightly less.

ALVH has received mixed reviews by critics. I’m not sure why. If you go to a movie called “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” you should not expect a historically accurate, solemn treatment of the Great Emancipator.

In this instance, you get exactly what the title promises: Abe Lincoln hackin’ away at the evil undead with his trusty silver-plated ax that does double duty as a shotgun.

Our boy Abe swings his mighty ax with the finesse of a sous chef. He leaps, he spins, he outsmarts and outmaneuvers those fanged Southerners.

You see, the vampires took over the southern states in the period before the Civil War. They were involved in the slave trade – but – they were interested in more than cheap labor. They were feeding on the slaves.

These vampires are of the old school variety – none of this sappy, glittering-in-the-sun garbage. These are evil, ugly, meaner than snakes vamps.

Lincoln decided to put away the ax and get into politics to end the vampire threat – and slavery – at great personal loss (according to the movie). He vowed: “I shall kill them all.”

And he did his level best to do so.

A few things annoyed me in this movie. 

It omitted any mention of Abe’s first love, Anne Rutledge; his sister Sarah; three of his four children; and his Kentucky roots.

Some of the action scenes were so choppy and frantic, I had trouble keeping up with the story. The runaway horse scene – or you might say the “throw-away” horse scene – would have been better if you could see what was going on.

And, in the book, Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was a vampire. You don’t get even a peek at him in the movie. 

Come on – he is the most hated man in the entire Lincoln story. I wanted to watch his demise.

Boo, hiss, to you, Mr. Director Timur Bekmanbetov.

There were many things, however, I liked. Lanky Benjamin Walker was outstanding as Lincoln – both as a young man, learning the trade of vampire slaying, and as a dignified older man. He even looked like him, thanks to the makeup.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead played the most likable Mary Todd Lincoln I have seen – and I have watched a lot of Lincoln dramas. It’s a shame Mary Todd wasn’t that beautiful and supportive in life. 

And Lincoln’s mentor, vampire Henry Sturges, played by Dominic Cooper, was as interesting as the Railsplitter. While they do not always agree, the men work together to prevent the USA from becoming a nation of bloodsuckers.

(Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds. Our trusty politicians have managed to suck the life out of the American middle class after all. We are allowed only to ax them at election time.)

Sturges also gets some of the movie’s best lines, including one that sums up the Lincoln story.

“Some men are just too interesting to die.”

They become legends instead.

 “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is rated R and rightly so for general violence and vampire decapitations.