Abraham Lincoln has always been one of my favorite presidents. His journey to the White House was rocky at best. He never backed down from a fight, and he was a thinking man, not driven by emotions, especially fear. Most importantly, it fell on his watch to free the slaves, all the while trying to keep America a united nation. His strong vision of the role America would play on the world stage drove him to do what he needed to do to keep America whole–fight the evil that gripped the soul of this nation. So as presidents go, if any could have ever fought vampires, Lincoln would probably be the one.
The whole idea intrigued me to the point that I read the book by author Seth Grahame-Smith before I saw the movie. Grahame-Smith used historical facts, and gray areas in Lincoln’s life to insert the vampire phenomenon. His book of the same title was so convincing I had to research Lincoln’s history for myself, and was surprised at how complex his life was. I rediscovered that Lincoln as the man, and the power behind America’s most defining time as a baby nation. From reading biographies, looking at documentaries and understanding the laws he helped put into place, I am convinced President Lincoln knew how to fight the good fight. And if vampires had existed, he would have vanquished them, too.
The whole vampire thing has simply gotten out of hand in Hollywood.
In 1897, Irish author Bram Stoker introduced the gothic horror novel “Dracula” to his readers.
The vampire was evil, ugly and bloodthirsty, Stoker even wrote how foul Dracula’s breath was.
The 1922 film “Nosferatu” kept that theme going. But in 1992, Francis Ford Coppola’s award-winning film “Dracula” depicted Dracula, played by Gary Oldman, as a sympathetic character, yearning for his lost love. In my opinion, that started the wave of vampire movies that were no longer evil, just misunderstood.
This creature of horror was never meant to be idolized, and adored by the masses. So I couldn’t wait to see how this movie handled the vampire question. And I was disappointed.
In Tim Burton’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” directed by Timur Bekmambetov, “evil” with a capital E was put back in the vampire lore. Using the backdrop of slavery and the Civil War was in my opinion genius. What an evil time for America, so evil that it split this nation apart!
One marked difference between the book and the movie is that the book only looked at slaves as victims of the vampires. No single individual or act by slaves was pointed out. To me, that was very disappointing. But the same writer of the book also wrote the screenplay with a big difference, not only did the slaves have a role in the struggle for their freedom, a hero also stood out–Lincoln’s boyhood friend Will Johnson, played by Anthony Mackie.
Lincoln’s weapon of choice was the ax. In real life, Lincoln was a rail splitter and a darn good one at that. Benjamin Walker (Lincoln) wielded that ax so convincingly that you were almost thinking the whole thing could have happened.
Some folks commented on how freely Johnson (Anthony Mackie) moved around the White House as a free Black man. But there is some truth to that possibility. Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidant was Elizabeth Keckley, who began her life as a slave and became a privileged witness to the presidency of Lincoln. Keckley bought her freedom at the age of 37, and set up a successful dress-making business in Washington, D.C. She became a fashion designer to Mary Todd Lincoln and in time her friend and confidante, a relationship that continued after Lincoln’s assassination.
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is a curious mix of fantasy and fact, an action film in its own right, clever and fun to watch. The film may not be a box-office smash, but I believe it will grow in popularity and have a long shelf life.
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is in theaters now.
Gail can be reached at email@example.com.