Revisionist history works for Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter
RICHARD ROEP E R firstname.lastname@example.org June 20, 2012 6:22PM
Updated: July 23, 2012 7:30AM
New York Times headline: “Aside From the Vampires, Lincoln Film Seeks Accuracy.”
“CBS This Morning” website headline: “Was Abe Lincoln Really a Vampire Hunter?”
Toronto.com headline: “Fudging history: ‘Men in Black 3’ and ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.’ ”
Granted, some of these stories are done with a wink, but there’s something hilarious about any discussion focuses on whether a movie called “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” is faithful to documented history.
Folks. I know there are more movies and TV shows about vampires than cops these days, but with the possible exceptions of Keith Richards, I’m reasonably certain vampires are purely fictional creations.
From the instant-classic title to all scenes of an ax-twirling Honest Abe beheading the undead to Mary Todd Lincoln saying, “Abe, we’re going to be late to the theater!” every frame of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter plays like one of the fake trailers in “Tropic Thunder.” My full review of the film will be on richardroeper.com soon, but can I just tell you, “ALVH” is one ridiculous, hilarious, outrageous, bloody good time at the movies.
And it’s about as historically accurate as “Captain America.” Of all the films made about Lincoln, I’m reasonably certain this is the first one with an action sequence in which the vampire that killed Abe’s mother literally throws a horse at Young Abe.
A Fox affiliate in South Carolina notes, “While [the novel on which the film is based] is a work of fiction, it received the attention of some Clemson University professors, including one historian [who said] one thing is for sure — this isn’t the same Honest Abe that students learned about in school.”
The site quotes Lincoln scholar Orville Vernon Burton (perfect name), who tells us, “They have Lincoln as a vigilante, outside the rule of law, killing vampires.
“Lincoln didn’t hunt, never used vile words or cursed, never took God’s name in vain and didn’t drink or chew.”
Bet he never had to dodge a flying horse, either.
Based on the terrific mash-up novel from Seth Grahame-Smith (who previously gave us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” is pure camp, and how could it not be?
We’re talking about a movie with “Karate Kid”-like sequences of young Abe learning how to twirl his ax. A movie in which we’re told the South nearly won the Civil War because its troops were fortified with vampires, and we all know how hard it is to kill vampires. A movie in which Abe’s vampire mentor begs to let him turn Abe so they can fight injustice through the centuries. (Hmmm. Might have been kind of awkward to have Lincoln on the penny and the $5 bill, not to mention all those schools and roads, if he were still around, albeit with pale skin and an aversion to the sun.)
Something tells me Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film on Lincoln will be a smidge more accurate.
When movies meet history
Ever since Hollywood started making movies, fictional heroes (and fictionalized historical figures) have been inserted into the timeline of real events.
Sometimes the depiction feels utterly authentic, e.g., “Saving Private Ryan.” Sometimes we get revisionist, revenge history, e.g., “Inglourious Basterds.”
And often it’s pure pop silliness, as when a time-traveling Agent J and the young Agent K battle an alien on the launch pad of Apollo 11 in “Men in Black 3,” or an evil mutant ex-Nazi creates the Cuban Missile Crisis in “X-Men: First Class,” or Edgar Allan Poe is tormented by an evil genius who is using Poe’s fiction as inspiration for a series of murders in The Raven.
Somehow, I think Lincoln’s true legacy will outlive a cheesy splatter film.