Movies

Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

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Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in today's Washington Times:

I could summarize the plot of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," but why bother? All the important details are in the title: There's a tall actor (Benjamin Walker) who's outfitted to look vaguely like America's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln — he comes equipped with a top hat, an ax and eventually a beard — and he kills vampires. What else do you need to know?

The filmmakers seem to be hoping the answer to that question is: nothing. The movie's high point is its name, which seems more like a joke about ridiculous movie concepts than an actual movie.

But an actual movie it is, if only barely. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" represents a new low in high-concept laziness; it's what happens when elevator pitches substitute for ideas, and pop-culture gimmicks replace story.

Whole thing here

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  1. But he recites the Gettysburg address in the movie. That makes it deep or clever or something.

    1. No, it makes it about as clever and deep as Snakes on a Plane. Sam Jackson saying “There are some motherfuckin’ snakes on this motherfuckin’ plane.” adds the same amount of clever as the Gettysburg does in this movie.

      1. Would you like us to get off of your lawn too, grandpa?

        The movie may suck, but sometimes these concepts work out.

        1. Its all in the execution.

          1. I know, but comparing the concept of AL:VH to Snakes on a Plane is just conceptual confusion.

            1. SOAP was successful because it was just a vehicle for Samuel L. Jackson to play a badass, something he happens to be very good at.

              He’s kind of the Vincent Price of our generation.

              1. SOAP was successful

                Citation needed.

                1. First you dis the SOAP.

                  Then you drop the SOAP.

                  Then you’re sorry.

                2. Citation needed.

                  Budget: $33 million

                  Domestic Gross: $34 million

                  Foreign Gross: $28 million

                  A $29 million profit isn’t terrible.

  2. Expecting anything more than the title of the movie leads you to believe, in this case, is frankly stupid. If you expected anything more than an hour and a half of a tall actor reminiscent of Honest Abe hacking vampires to death with all the plot depth of the Blade series, you shouldn’t have paid to see it in the first place… If you were expecting raw dialogue and unexpected plot twists you picked the wrong damn movie.

    1. But the first two Blade films were great! I was hoping for something along the same lines and got something more like a bad SyFy original movie.

      1. The first Blade movie was great. The second was your standard Guillermo del Toro affair where the makeup got more of the directors attention than the story.

        1. Blade II was not “standard” del Toro. Neither was Mimic. Pan’s Labyrinth, Cronos, The Orphanage, and please Jeebus hopefully At the Mountains of Madness are “standard” del Toro.

          1. You conveniently left out the Hellboy films he pinched off.

            How many bombs does a guy have to drop before he goes from being a visionary whose reach sometimes exceeds his grasp to being Joel Schumacher but from Mexico?

            1. How many really good films does a guy have to make before you give him credit for having talent? Making run-of-the-mill shit like Hellboy pays the bills, and is even watchable (if barely). If it allows him to do At the Mountains of Madness, and do it properly, I’ll look past it.

              And I’ll send some Shoggoths your way, Hugh.

              1. I guess he does have some talent. He’s definitely a boon to the struggling special effects makeup industry. And he’s a very efficient director because he doesn’t waste time with scripts.

                1. Just because you refuse to read subtitles doesn’t mean there isn’t a plot, Hugh. Maybe you should learn to speak Spanish.

                  1. I do speak Spanish. Whenever I talk to my cleaning lady I speak much louder and much slower.

                    1. CLEANING WOMAN?!? CLEANING WOMAN?!?

                      (starts strangling Hugh)

      2. Yeah, but without Wesley fuckin’ Snipes in Blade, you would have the same Made for TV garbage you have here. At least if they put someone awesome in the lead they would carry the movie a bit.

        1. I agree. I would much rather see Wesley Snipes as Abe Lincoln.

          1. Hell yeah…Wesley Snipes or Samuel Jackson in “whiteface”

          2. As long as he promised not to pay taxes on the proceeds.

  3. As with any movie like this, it will either be a surprisingly great treat, or just suck monkey balls. Most of the time, it’s the latter. When it’s the former, we’re pleasantly surprised.

    No surprise this is the latter.

    1. I think that is true for the vast majority of all movies – not just movies with a clever name and/or plot device. Though unless you watch it on Netflix or HBO, there is more than “no-surprise”, it is a 19 dollar (or more if you have kids) kick in the sack.

  4. So, what does everyone here think of Horrible Bosses? Yeah, I know, I need to get out more, but still…

    1. In my opinion it was a cookie-cutter piece of shit that did well and everyone liked/laughed at because literally EVERYONE can relate. If you can’t relate, you are unemployed. And if you are unemployed, you aren’t spending $9.50 to see a movie! Oh, and Charlie Day.

    2. It was moderately funny, with a few really funny moments (mostly attributable to Charlie Day). It is much better than pure shit like The Hangover, but it’s not memorable or amazing or anything.

      1. Hangover was better than Horrible Bosses

        Charlie Day = Overrated (though not too terrible in that movie)

        1. You know, dude, I always liked you, but if you like The Hangover, I officially hate you, all your descendants, and anyone who has ever seen, smelled, heard, or touched you.

          Except your mom. I’ll still keep “loving” her, if you know what I mean.

          1. Don’t worry the feeling is mutual. What the hell kind of a philistine hates The Hangover and then has a good word to say about horrible bosses? Seriously, were you stoned when you say the movie? Did you laugh at it because it was bad?

            1. You’re probably a huge Judd Apatow fan, aren’t you, John.

              (sneers)

              I think that’s all we need to know.

              1. Next up Episiarch waxes on the comic genius of Jason Bateman.

                1. I have it on good authority that Episiarch’s favorite movie is The Change-Up.

                  1. If The Change-Up is my favorite film, then yours is the 1995 Freaky Friday.

                    You sure you want that, buddy?

                    1. If The Change-Up is my favorite film, then yours is the 1995 Freaky Friday.

                      You sure you want that, buddy?

                      SOLD!

                      Jaime Lee is my dream girl…ahhh, what was I saying?

                2. I’ll take Jason Bateman over Zack Galafalawhatever any day.

                  Due Date sucked, as well.

          2. Except your mom. I’ll still keep “loving” her, if you know what I mean.

            Geez, man, necrophilia is one of my trigger warnings, you microaggressor.

            No, but seriously, my mom is dead and you are gross.

            1. Don’t worry, dude, I used plenty of formaldehyde.

          3. Except your mom. I’ll still keep “loving” her, if you know what I mean.

            Depressingly, this throwaway message board insult is actually funnier and more quotable than any line of dialogue from either Hangover movie.

            Maybe you should help write the screenplay for The Hangover Part III.

            1. Seriously, on reason the “Godwin” law has NOTHING to do with Nazis/Hitler and EVERYTHING to do with fucking mothers, necrophilia, and buttsecks…

              1. Could be worse, not sure if any of you used to hang out in the Libertarianism community on Livejournal back in the day but we could count on at least 2 – 3 posts a week that involved beastiality in some way shape of form (sometimes as a joke, others were serious)

            2. The Hangover III does not have a screenplay. It merely has Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis screaming for 100 minutes. It’ll make 400 million easy.

              1. Ah, but what city will it occur in this time?

                1. Preferably somewhere in Serbia.

          4. What about people who have read his comments? Are you a self-hater, Epi?

        2. You are all fools. This is comedy.

          1. What the fuck just happened?!?!

        3. The Hangover was fun because it was like a professional wrestling version of a real Vegas trip–all the experiences were extreme distortions of things that could actually happen.

          A lot of people liked it because a lot of us have done stupid shit in Vegas; it was easy to relate to. I imagine the appeal of Horrible Bosses was in a similar vein.

      2. The Hangover is quite literally the only funny movie made in the last 10 years.

        1. Despite the massive amount of competition, John, that is officially the dumbest shit you have ever said.

          1. It is true. I can’t think of a single comedy in the last ten years that hasn’t sucked. They all suck. Hollywood can’t write dialog. And if you can’t write dialog, you can’t do comedy.

            What exactly was funny? Little Nickey? Horrible Bosses? The First Wives Club?

            Comedies have been almost universally horrible for years now. Sorry but if you find Vince Vaughn or Will Ferrell Funny, you are probably retarded or at least stunted in some way.

            1. The British have been churning out good comedy recently. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, In the Loop, and like I said below, Four Lions.

              And as far as American comedies go, some unorthodox ones that were either really good or at least decent would be Lost in Translation, Punch-Drunk Love (did you know Adam Sandler can actually act?) and certain films by Wes Anderson.

              1. WES ANDERSON DELENDA EST

                Seriously, Wes Anderson puts me into epileptic fits of rage.

                1. Life Aquatic sucked, but Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, and, I hear, his new movie Moonrise Kingdom are all excellent.

                  I’m not completely sold on existential comedy, some of them like I Heart Huckabees are too smug for their own good, but damned if it isn’t nice to watch something different than standard Hollywood comedy crap like a Will Ferell or Ben Stiller movie.

                  1. Life Aquatic is, to date, the only movie I have walked out on.

                    So fucking terrible.

                  2. I hated Rushmore. I hated that little bastard in that movie. Talk about a movie character you wanted to reach through the screen and punch. You guys bitch about Zach Galifianakis and then praise Rushmore?

                    1. By the way, John, you spelled “Galifianakis” correctly, so your spelling account is almost squared.

                  3. Is this going to be another Wes Anderson thread that ignores “The Darjeeling Limited?” It’s by far his best work.

                2. So let me get this straight. You hate Wes Anderson and the latest Star Trek, but like Mean Girls and use epileptic when you mean apoplectic? This is a bridge too far, sir.

                  At least you properly hate Quentin Tarantino.

                  The Darjeeling Limited was fantastic.

                  1. Thank you. Glad to see at least one person here isn’t a philistine.

              2. Lost in Translation is boring. It doesn’t have a laugh line in the whole damn movie. And Anderson is okay. The Royal Tenenbaums is not bad. But they are an acquired taste. I am not even sure I would call them comedies. And I wouldn’t consider them a screwball comedy like the Hangover. Hollywood used to do that better than anyone. And they can’t now at all.

                1. Wes Anderson is an acquired taste in the same way drunks ‘acquire’ a taste for turpentine.

                2. It is difficult to call some of them comedies because they are sad or deal with the sad realities of life, but comedy isn’t just laughing at absurd stiuations, there can be truth to it.

                  And Lost in Translation is one of my all-time favorite movies, everthing about it from the acting to the directing was excellent and rang true.

            2. Mean Girls

              Yup, I said it.

            3. John, it’s all terrible, including The Hangover. Occasinally you get something moderately watchable, like Horrible Bosses, but overall, movie comedy is terrible. Which is understandable; it’s fucking hard to maintain humor for and hour and 40 minutes, especially when everything’s been done before.

              But there are exceptions. Have you seen Tucker and Dale vs Evil?

              1. No but that looks pretty funny. They really are all horrible. They are just not funny.

              2. Watch Tucker and Dale Versus Evil. It’s like Shaun of the Dead for slasher flicks.

            4. I don’t disagree with your general point that comedy is dead in the 21st Century, but I do dispute both that The Hangover is funny and that it is the only funny movie in the last ten years.

              Not counting animated movies or movies I haven’t seen:

              ZombieLand (2009)
              Tropic Thunder (2008)
              Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
              Shaun of the Dead (2004)

              1. Tropic Thunder would have been just another worthless Stiller flick without Robert Downey’ Jr.’s blackface character. That’s honestly one of the most genius comedic performances I’ve seen since Ghostbusters.

            5. Was “O Brother Where Art Thou” more than 10 years ago?

              1. Office Space was made in 1999, so its out.

            6. I can’t think of a single comedy in the last ten years that hasn’t sucked.

              2005 – 40 year old virgin.

              1. Also someone already mentioned it I think but “In the Loop” was a damn fine comedy.

                “The problem with civilians wanting to go to war. Once you’ve been there you never want to go back unless you absolutely have to…its like France.”

              2. This too.

            7. Comedies from the last 10 years I thought were particularly well done:

              2002: Adaptation, Bubba Ho-tep
              2003: A Mighty Wind
              2004: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Kung Fu Hustle, Shaun of the Dead, Team America: World Police
              2005: Thank You for Smoking
              2006: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
              2010: RED
              2012: Men in Black 3

              1. Also both Jackasses, Grandma’s Boy and Anger Management the second time through + (while stoned).

                I’m sure there’s others but I stopped paying for movies after seeing The Breakup.

        2. The Hangover was incredibly overrated, bunch of morons just screaming for almost two hours. The only geuninely funny moment was Mike Tyson’s cameo, other than that it was just standard rauchy guy comedy drek.

          My favorite comedy of the last decade was the excellent British comedy Four Lions, which is a perfectly funny dark comedy about terrorism.

          1. That is how I feel about every Will Ferrell movie. I thought the hangover was reasonably funny and had a very creative premise. And I don’t think anyone screamed very much. And Tyson was hysterical. But the rest of the movie wasn’t bad. And when you compare to the rest of the shit produced these days, it stands up pretty well.

            1. I’m definitely not going to defend the painfully unfunny Will Ferrell, but I just didn’t get why everyone was raving about The Hangover. I guess you’re right, not a very high bar has been set.

              1. There were a few good parts about The Hangover, such as Zach Galafinakis getting punched in the face. I’ll confess to having liked it well enough.

                1. I would pay money to watch Zach Galafinakis get punched in the face.

          2. Four Lions was hilariously dark. Everybody dying in random explosions is the ultimate comedy.

        3. Napoleon Dynamite is WAY funnier than the Hangover.

          1. ^^this^^

            “Are you guys having a killer time?”

          2. Nappy D is hilarious, although I enjoyed it so much because I went to high school in a small town much like the one in the movie.

    3. Horrible Bosses is worth watching on Netflix, mostly because Charlie Day is a funny guy. I wouldn’t buy the DVD or anything stupid like that.

  5. There’s somebody in the comments of the newspaper article urging people to boycot the film because it trivializes the Civil War.

    Now I want to make a Civil War comedy/parody just to inflame people like him. Something blatantly offensive and historically inaccurate. John Brown: Slave Beater.

    1. Isn’t Tarintino going to do that? Isn’t he making a trash blacksploitation mandingo remake?

      1. Is this what you’re thinking of maybe?

        http://insidemovies.ew.com/201…..unchained/

        1. Django Unleashed, or whatever. And as I get more appreciative of good films and television, I like Quentin Tarantino less and less.

          1. I agree. Pulp Fiction was great. But everything else he has done sucks. He makes modern version of bad movies. And he acts all hip and ironic to try to play off the fact that the movie is bad. No, there is nothing ironic about it. Some movies just suck and no amount of hipster grindhouse B movie veneer is going to change that.

            1. Inglorious Basterds was fun, but its gotten to the point were I wish Tarantino would try something different.

              This is why I maintain that the Coen Brothers are the indisputably greatest filmmakers in Hollywood, those guys can do any genre and make a great movie.

              1. They are certainly up there. And about the only film makers whose movies I will go and see sight unseen.

                1. I’ve done that for the last few Clint Eastwood movies. But yeah, the list is short.

              2. The Coen Brothers are kingly men.

              3. Inglorious Basterds was fun, but its gotten to the point were I wish Tarantino would try something different.

                Tarantino’s become a parody of himself as a director. It’s one thing to be derivative of old 50s movies and 70s grindhouse crap, but he’s now essentially copying himself. This is now, what, his third revenge flick in a row?

                And Inglorious Basterds was garbage–marketed as a Jewish Dirty Dozen, which would have been great fun, except the actual story was standard progressive hipster boilerplate (Ooh! The Jewess runs a theater! And is fucking a black man! And she’s GOING TO GET HER REVENGE!!) The “heroes” were so unlikeable, I actually found myself rooting for Christoph Waltz’s character to catch them all and send them to Auschwitz.

            2. Jackie Brown is possibly the worst movie I can recall seeing.

          2. So you hate Tarantino and the new Star Trek. Got it. Movies should never be fun.

            1. What is fun about Tarantino?

            2. How do you, of all people, NOT hate the new Star Trek?

            3. the new Star Trek

              Slowly, he turned…

            4. Agreed. I’m sorry to hear that John Epi and everyone else but me has sucky taste in movies.

              1)Tarantino is great.

              2) Holloywood does OCCASIONALLY come out with good comedy movies ex Shaun of the Dead

              3) The Hangover sucked

              4) The New Star Trek is great and pwns all previous trekky crap

              5)MOST IMPORTANT: PROMETHEUS SUCKS

    2. There’s somebody in the comments of the newspaper article urging people to boycot the film because it trivializes the Civil War.

      Sadly, that person is probably the same person who thinks that dressing up as a Civil War solider and spending a weekend in a pup tent because it’s “fun” doesn’t trivialize the Civil War.

    3. Or you could make a film that was blatantly offensive and historically accurate like Abraham Lincoln:Tyrant or Abraham Lincoln:White Supremacist.

      1. ^^Boom: winner

        Now let’s start another epic Civil War thread. It’s been awhile since we had one.

        1. Now let’s start another epic Civil War thread.

          I will begin:

          The South attacked Fort Sumner first.

      2. As opposed to his enemies who did things like enslave 1/3rd of their population and expect everyone else to return their slaves to them when they tried to escape.

        1. False dichotomy.

          1. Nothing Lincoln did was even close to the evil perpetrated by his enemies. And the measures he took were to defeat a great evil. I mean seriously, who is more sympathetic Lincoln or the racist ass wipes in Maryland who were trying to turn the state into a permanent slave state and end the Union Lincoln threw in jail when he suspended haebeus?

            I would take the federal government Lincoln left over what we have now in a heart beat. And any excesses he engaged in were entirely the fault of the South for being backwards aristocratic slave holding assholes who went nuts and started the God damned war.

            1. Goddammit, guys, you’ve forced me to agree with John! JOHN! Way to fuck up my weekend.

          2. And there was nothing aggressive about the South or slave holders.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah_P._Lovejoy

            1. Don’t forget the filibusters, either.

            2. Again, false dichotomy. There is plenty of room for everybody to be terrible even if some are worse that others.

              1. Bullshit. The only reason Lincoln did any of the things he did was because they were necessary to defeat the south.

      3. If Lincoln was a true tyrant, he wouldn’t have been such a pussy when it came to Reconstruction.

        1. well, he was kinda dead at that point…

          1. Which brings me to my second point. True tyrants are immortal.

    4. Am I the only one who wants a big budget action film of John Brown? It could be hilariously bad, but it would have bullet time sequences and explosions everywhere. John Brown: With a Vengeance, directed by Michael Bay.

      1. I think a serious John Brown movie could make a mint. But yours is probably easier and even more lucrative, so let’s do that instead.

        1. I think Brown is an interesting character who should be taken more seriously. They always write him off as a nut. But Jesus, millions of Americans were living in slavery. What if that were true today? Wouldn’t that kind of justify extreme action? And of course the South were total terrorist assholes in places like Missouri and Kansas were Brown was from.

          1. I agree. If the law is so horribly unjust as to permit the literal slavery of human beings, then wouldn’t rebellion be a reasonable action in response? Rule of law only works when the law has some semblance of morality and ethics behind it.

        2. Sadly (or maybe not) the Flashman novel about John Brown has completely taken over my memory space on that subject.

          1. not sad at all, sir. the Flashman novels’ll do that

    5. trivializes the Civil War

      too soon?

  6. Has anyone out there seriously made the “we should have more respect Lincoln and honor what he did for Americra” argument about this movie?

    If so, who is more likely to make it? Idiotic red pundits or moronic blue pundits?

  7. The Confederacy was probably just on bath salts.

    1. This is Abe vs vampires, not zombies.

      1. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF THE BATH SALT.

      2. Undead, infectious, and feed on people…

        How are vampires not zombies?

        1. Because vampires existed before zombies did.

          Zombies were originally quite different – created by voodoo or special drugs and under the control of their maker.

          But then George Romero basically turned them into vampires with the infection and having them eat brains (instead of blood).

          1. The Draugr predate Brom Stoker.

            Same with Ghouls which comes from Arabian folklore.

            Modern vampires and zombies have the same origins.

            Also the infectious meme that both share is probably a modern adaption…again with the same origin…my guess is the zombies had it first then later it was applied to vampires.

            It should also be pointed out that the word “Zombie” was never used in Night of the living dead…they were described as Ghouls in promotional materials.

            If anything all Romero did (if he really did it..more like it happened to him) is he redefined the word “Zombie” to mean Ghoul.

            1. The TV-broadcast-within-the-movie called them ghouls. Proving that they’re not really ghouls, since when did a TV broadcast personality get any important issue right?

        2. Because vampires existed before zombies did.

          Zombies were originally quite different – created by voodoo or special drugs and under the control of their maker.

          But then George Romero basically turned them into vampires with the infection and having them eat brains (instead of blood).

        3. “How are vampires not zombies?”

          This is about the most offensive statement I’ve ever seen on the Internet.

          Zombies (depending on the source) are undead/near-dead voodoo slaves who can rest in peace if they’re given salt, or they’re mindless monsters who can be killed with a well-aimed shot to the head. At worst, they have to be shot twice – once to start, again after they get back up again.

          Vampires, in contrast, are unholy, blasphemous beings of horror vomited forth from the depths of Hell. You can’t just shoot them or give them some salt. You have to basically catch them sleeping and even then you have to use just the right tools. Otherwise the best you can hope for is to keep them away from you with crosses or (for your OCD Balkan vampires) throw a bunch of grain in their path for them to count (which probably doesn’t work in most cases because you rarely see that particular tactic in movies).

          And only a very small and unusually freaky population has erotic fantasies about zombies.

  8. Wow, another AL: VH review that mentions “cheap-looking effects.”

    I had been under the impression that, whatever else could go wrong with a movie like this, it would at least be visually appealing. Guess they even managed to screw that up.

    1. Rotten Tomatoes rating: an anemic 40%.

      By way of comparison, that’s lower than Rock of Ages, f’chrissakes.

      1. I only trust RT for negative reviews, after seeing that the new Star Trek was at like a 90-something percent.

        Oh yeah, and so was Midnight in Paris.

        1. The new Star Trek is the modern-day Gone With the Wind!!!

          1. Seriously, the chick who was Uhura: insanely hot. Insanely.

      2. Madagascar 3 is 3 points higher than Prometheus. Ha ha!

        1. Just let it go JW, obsessing on the badness of Prometheus will only elevate your blood pressure for no good reason.

  9. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” “The American People? electing Barack Obama as President” represents a new low in high-concept laziness; it’s what happens when elevator pitches substitute for ideas, and pop-culture gimmicks replace story.

    Fixed.

    Also, racist.

  10. Do we really need two reviews of Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter?

    Re:Will Ferrell. Apparently it is now in among internet hipsters to like Will Forte. WTF??? I hated him on SNL without even knowing what the interwebz thinks of him.

    Also the New Yorker doesn’t like Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO show. “Sorkin’s shows are the type that people who never watch TV are always claiming are better than anything else on TV” Like Mad Me, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones?

    1. Links don’t work:

      http://www.avclub.com/articles…..lom,63225/

      http://www.newyorker.com/arts/…..n_nussbaum

  11. but found the road to her liking (same with dad, liked living like Kerouac then sticking around)

    This is the part you ding me for being a miserable kid he preferred not to be around. So predictable.

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