Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (out June 22) arrives at time when the scariest thing about bloodsuckers is how tame they’ve become. For decades they were merciless, seductive, and bloodthirsty villains, but now they’re more commonly seen as the sparkling, waifish, and weepy heroes of YA romantic chick-lit.
Look at this picture of ol’ Honest Abe: He’s mad as hell! And he’s not going to take it anymore, Stephenie Meyer! YAAARRGHH!
In this historical fantasy, produced by Tim Burton, vampires strike the same twitchy nerve among the citizenry that terrorists do in our real world.
“It’s not a sermon in any way, but it is interesting to look at vampires as the all-encompassing, unspeakable, unknowable evil,” says Benjamin Walker, who stars as the bearded slayer-in-chief. “This evil moves among us, and maybe lives next door. It’s an ideology that we don’t fully understand, but they live by it.”
The movie is based on the best-selling historical/horror mash-up by Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, who made Angelina Jolie’s Wanted and the Russian vampire sagas Nightwatch and Daywatch.
At first, it might just seem like the premise to a Saturday Night Live sketch. “The joke is in the title, and then we fully commit to it,” says Walker, best known for another offbeat alt-history story, the Broadway musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.
AL: VH certainly has a sense of humor, but uses real events as a jumping off place for the imagination. The vampire story is interwoven as backstory for many of the twists and turns in Lincoln’s life leading up to the Civil War.
In this image, we see Lincoln in his younger days, already aware of the vampire menace, but just beginning to learn that he and his trusty felling axe could do something about it.
“It’s told through the structure of Lincoln’s actual life. You not only see these huge fight scenes and great moments of drama, but you get sort of the greatest hits of Lincoln’s life, from the mysterious death of his mother through the Gettysburg address,
says Walker. “You get a portrait of this man, as well as a thriller.”