It looked like Hollywood’s next big thing a couple of years back, when a whole host of movies with unlikely titles such as Boy Scouts vs Zombies seemed to be getting the green light, or at least placing high on the “Black List” of the best unproduced movie screenplays. Then Cowboys and Aliens bombed last year and suddenly no-one’s quite sure whether the mashup flick is just a passing fad or a full-scale revival for the blockbuster B-movie.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, who kick-started the literary strand of the movement with 2009 parody novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (itself once the subject of a seemingly-on-ice big screen adaptation). The latter sees Jane Austen’s regency romance filleted with rampaging representatives of the undead, while the former repositions the famous US president as the keen-eyed nemesis of swarming bloodsuckers everywhere. The book’s most cunning conceit, by the way, is Grahame-Smith’s decision to recast the abolitionist movement as the result of a campaign to stop the vampires buying up slaves and using them for fuel: the American civil war is therefore repositioned as the direct outcome of an invasion of the undead.
In charge of the movie version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov, while Abe himself is played by US newcomer Benjamin Walker, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead as his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, Dominic Cooper as his undead-hunting mentor Henry Sturges and the always good-value Rufus Sewell as a particularly nasty vamp. Not a bad cast then, and the visual stuff looks impressive (if a little slo-mo-heavy), but it’s surely going to take some radical film-making panache to make this one stand out from the crowd.
I can’t help thinking that a director such as Sam Raimi, who proved he’s still got the old B-movie nonchalance nailed with 2009′s superb Drag Me To Hell decades after Evil Dead II redefined the comedy horror, ought to take a shot at this kind of material. In the meantime, does this particular incarnation of Abe Lincoln make you want to belt out the Star-Spangled Banner, or weep tears of distress at the depths to which modern American cinema has sunk in the name of bloody spectacle?
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