Civil War Reenactors In "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter"
A Hero For Our Tmes
Suffering inordinate violence, poverty, political ranting, and insanity in the world, we are turning increasingly to superheroes for escapism and mental support - even vampire superheros and vampire slayer superheros. We have quite a field of them for choosing.
Vampires are so popular today that the most famous Dracula for a century, Bela Lugosi, would shake his head in wonder, but be grateful for the increasing number of roles currently. Books, films, and television are full of episodes of Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, tales of Vampyra, Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns, and others. Vampires are everywhere now, thanks to Lugosi's earlier work.
A Hero For Our Times is what we are seeking. It is the name of a Russian novel, but the concept fits our search for heroes in the 2010s. Abraham Lincoln was already becoming a refreshed hero to Americans before the release of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (ALVH). This appeal was based on the strength of the book of the same name and of the hopes of the GOP to regain the White House in 2012.
In discussing the phenomenon Lincoln's vampires with movie theater managers, I found that they were impressed with the Vampire Hunter trailers.
Managers and owners feel that the film portrays a straightforward treatment of the story as real. It is made more accurate overall by the work of incredible teams of Civil War reenactors that joined the cast and crew. These living historians strive for accuracy, even in the angle of a soldier's fall after he was shot on a battlefield. If you watch as they perform a battle reenactment, you can be sure that the scene is as it was during the war. You are there with them, as if you had bought a ticket to Mark Kunkel's Disaster Park and it's brutal rides through the Civil War battles.
The film's story is real, with vampires added.
Part of the viewing public may decide to believe that the Civil War was fought against vampires in the South - vampires that bought and mistreated slaves before sucking their blood. This is aided by the fact that owning and using a slave may be considered a form of vampirism. This is all metaphoric, for where are the slave vampires today? - in another film, perhaps.
An interesting fact is that the film was shot in Louisiana. Lincoln spent a couple of his later teen years in New Orleans and little is known about his experiences there. This itself sets the stage for mysticism, magic, and the advent otherworldly creatures.
Newest Trailer - Gettysburg Address
Tater Mess Plays Traditional Music
Araham Lincoln, President With An Axe
I have taken adult education students to Civil War reenactments and visits to military museums often and have always been impressed with the caliber of performances given by living historians in these places. They never break character during a visit or performance - or beforehand or afterward. When you are with these people, you are in the 1860s and no mistake.
Civil War reenactors took parts as extras in ALVH and brought a sense of reality to its making, helping to correct inaccuracies. On the Louisiana battleground sets, living historians from coast to coast arrived with horses trained to accept the sound of gunfire without flinching, a number of period muskets and bayonets, canvas tents, and many uniforms of both Union and Rebel Armies.
The horses, equipment, and supplies perfectly match anything you can find in Library of Congress photos of the time period. Photography was about two decades old at the time and was thoroughly exercised on the battleground. Fields laden with dead soldiers and dead horses make some of the saddest images ever taken in a war zone.
One unit of reenactors,the Tater Mess from Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri, are spectacular for creating accuracy in reenactments.For ALVH, the Tater Mess slept outside on the ground near the battlefield, didn't shower, and fixed their own meals according to the tradition of the 1860s and the war (for recipes and rations of the time, see here).
This film is as real as it can manage to be and reenactors can make chills climb your spine! However, one of the reenactors in the scene in which Benjamin Walker as Lincoln gives the Gettysburg Address reports that the scene was so real, it sent chills down his own spine.This film is eerily real.
Having been a Union soldier in two military units and seen gruesome battles, I wonder what my great grandfather would think of all this? The current reenactors think the film brings more understanding to viewers as they see the realities of the war - and many think that the vampires are an interesting and fun mash-up.
Lincoln is certainly a strong hero in this film and in an intensely fought Presidential Election year (2012), the symbol of a Republican Wielding An Axe may speak to certain voters. Expect to see it in political cartoons - some people did not appreciate President Barack Obama's likening himself to Abraham Lincoln during his 2008 campaign. In 2012, part of the opposition was calling him Barack Hussein Kardashian for his supposed lifestyle and government spending, but Lincoln With an Axe is perfect for a political cartoon rebellion.
I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would think of all this?
Civil War Reenactors
- The Tater Mess Boys| Facebook
The Tater Mess, a campaigner-style Civil Reenacting unit from Kansas City
- Sykes' Regulars - 2nd & 4th US Infantry
2nd and 4th U.S. Infantry, Sykes Regulars, honoring the proud heritage of the U.S. Army and those who served in its ranks. The strict discipline of the group has afforded us the reputation of being among the premier Federal re-enacting units in the c
- Civil War Reenactors Home Page
- Motts Military Museum
Motts Military Museum Preserving America's Military Heritage from the Colonial Era to Iraqi Freedom
Rufus Sewell talks about ALVH at KAPOW Comic Con
Quality of Casting and Real Blood
I am happy to be a film critic when pictures like this one are on the horizon. Having read so many nonfiction and historical fiction books concerning Abraham Lincoln, I am ready for this version - a dark 19th Century superhero who twirls an axe -- Wonderful summer fun in a dark theater with air conditioning that is too cold and 3D effects to the edge of the surreal! I am ready to watch him kill them all.
Dedicated and disciplined Civil War reenactors swear that they saw Tim Burton on the battlefield, fighting as a Union soldier. What fun! The reenactors stunned the film's director and crew with their own work. We even see real blood in the film, because the reenactors would not leave when injured. The soldiers in the war kept fighting, and so would the living historians. They don't break character.
Benjamin Walker is well cast as Abraham Lincoln and gives a fascinating performance of appealing movements, attitudes, and speech. His deeper voice is much preferable to Lincoln's own high-pitched whine, as some describe it. Safe to say, Walker is more Lincoln than Lincoln. This is the hero that America is wishing to see when they think of Lincoln.
This Lincoln is a superhero, but not over the top - just enough superhero to capture the world's imagination. Everything about his film makes him believable in this setting. The make up company was the same that worked on Benjamin Button and were equally as outstanding on Lincoln.
The rest of the major cast includes actors largely from England, Australia, New Zealand, and America:
- Dominic Cooper is the vampire Henry Sturges, Lincoln's trainer for vampire hunting.
- Anthony Mackie is William Johnson, Lincoln's valet and friend. The actor was born in New Orleans and is active in movies. He was especially enjoyable in The Adjustment Bureau.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Mary Todd Lincoln
- Rufus Sewell is the vampire Adam, a character not in the book.
- Marton Csokas is vampire Jack Barts, who killed Lincoln's mother Nancy (Robin McLeavy). This actor is Hungarian, lending to his credibility as a vampire (Bela Lugosi was Hungarian).
- Jimmi Simpson is Joshua Speed, Lincoln's assistant and a friend.
- Joseph Mawle is Thomas Lincoln, the President's father.
- Erin Wasson is the female vampire, Vadoma.
- John Rothman is Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States.
- Cameron M. Brown is Willie Lincoln, the President's 3rd child.
- Frank Brennan is Senator Jeb Nolan
- Alan Tudyk is Stephen A. Douglas, politician from Illinois. Tudyk is hilarious in the 2007 film Death At a Funeral, playing the part of a mourner who is accidentally given hallucinogenic drugs. He is convincing as a politician as well.
All we really need to make this film perfect is a role for Robert Pattinson, who plays a vampire in the Twilight productions.
A Magic Touch Of Reality
Some of the books and films done on Lincoln are neither interesting nor realistic and the reader needs to wade through old swampy territory to reach anything new. Readers tire of that readily.
The novel on which the ALVH is based, however, is engaging and a Tim Burton/director Timur Bekmambetov treatment almost guarantees even more engagement of viewers with the screen.
Only one book recently has caught my attention with data about Lincoln - so much so that I read it twice. This is Bill O'Reilly's telling of the assassination of the 16th President, into which he has added everything that his research team and he himself could find of interest. I was glued to the book and could not close it.
Put the persona of Lincoln found in O'Reilly's book on screen with an axe in his hand, and I'll stay all day watching the film repeatedly... I think this is what Burton and Bekmambetov have accomplished.
I envision dozens of Lincolns with axes at next year's MarCon science fiction convention in Central Ohio. The west coast Cons should be completely overrun with them. Events may take the turn of Elvis competitions, including male Lincolns, female Lincolns, baby Lincolns and cat and dog Lincolns in costume. Perhaps we will have a Lincoln flash mob.
Halloween streets may be full of small Lincolns with black plastic axes -- It is really a shame that Ray Bradbury is no longer with us to write a rollicking story about that! He would have had a field day with the notion.
Perhaps someone else will write that story.
Postive Reviews From Famous Critics
Some reviewers could not reconcile the serious treatment of the storyline in Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.
Many of these expected a camp treatment like that provided by Hobo With a Shotgun or even the shocking and hilarious El Monstro Del Mar.
Major critics that enjoyed this take on Abraham Lincoln include:
- Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun Times. Three stars out of four.
- Richard Roeper of RichardRoeper.com
- Andrew O'Hehir of Salon.com
- Diva Valez of The Diva Review
- Bill Gibron of Pop Matter