Sunday, December 30, 2012

Horror Film Review

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012):  Yeah, I know.  But I read Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, thought it was mostly stupid, and so refuse to see the movie (which I've heard is awful).  Therefore, this film seemed like the perfect substitute.  I won't lie to's not what you'd call a marvel of cinematic grooviness.  It does, however, have one or two redeeming qualities that keeps it from being a total suckfest.

As a child, Abe (Brennen Harper) is forced to decapitate his own mother after a sickness sweeps through their town turning folks into undead cannibals.  All zombies are killed, threat eradicated.  Or so they thought.  Flash forward and as President Lincoln (Bill Oberst, Jr.) is working on his Gettysburg speech, he learns that a secret mission to retake Fort Pulaski in Savannah, GA failed and the only survivor returned with a strange illness.  Union forces are days away and time is of the essence, so Abe himself leads a group of 12 newly minted Secret Service agents down to Savannah to assess the situation and, of course, kick zombie ass.  As insanely implausible as this may seem, just wait.

The fort is deserted save for three Confederates who are quickly captured and locked up.  One of these rebels is a most indignant General Stonewall Jackson (Don McGraw).  Another is a young corporal named Pat Garrett (Christopher Marrone).  Scouting houses in the nearby town, Abe and his crew happen across a house with some folks holed up in the cellar.  One is Abe's first love Mary Owens (Baby Norman).  Another is a young boy by the name of Teddy Roosevelt (Canon Kuipers).  Everyone hightails it back to the fort where a plan is developed to lure all zombies in (Stonewall Jackson playing the bugle) and then blow them up with the stores of black powder. 

As you may imagine, the filmmakers play fast and loose with history.  One of the Abe's agents happens to be John Wilkes Booth (Jason Vail) going by the name John Wilkinson.  He's a Confederate agent who's infiltrated the Secret Service looking to kill Abe.  I don't know if Teddy Roosevelt or Pat Garrett was in Georgia in 1863, but I know Stonewall Jackson was in Virginia dying of pneumonia after having an arm amputated.  At one point, Abe is explaining how the zombies react to noise and therefore the need to be quiet.  He hands Teddy a shovel handle and tells him to walk softly and carry this big stick.  He tells Pat Garrett that he'd excel in a career in law enforcement.  And so on.

The biggest shock in Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is Bill Oberst, Jr. as Lincoln.  For two reasons.  One, this guy is an Emmy-winning actor who brings his A game to a very silly film and in the end, had me mesmerized.  And the second shock is that the makers of a direct-to-video, B-zombie flick convinced a guy like Oberst to take the role.  It's baffling.


Acting:  Beyond Oberst, who's excellent, the performances range from awful (Vail as Booth) to competent (Marrone as Garrett). 
Story:  No question it's a shameless rip-off of the vampire hunter story, but come's zombies.  You'll need to ignore the plot holes and history fudging, though.
Direction:  The film loses its way in the second act, aimlessly wandering around in the land stupid.
Production Values:  Here's the was made for $150,000, so obviously we're talking super-low budget; however, it's on film instead of video and they shot on location in Savannah.  It's a real fort, too.  What I'm saying is that it looks pretty damn good.  Decent sound and lighting as well.  Even the few White House scenes aren't bad.  Impressive.
Gore/FX:  Lots of beheadings and lots of CGI blood splattering about.  Not many shots of zombie munching, which is odd.  The zombie makeup is acceptable, if not a bit bland.  I was surprised at not only the amount of CGI used but also at its effectiveness.  Again, impressive.
Scares:  No. 
Ending:  Kind of clever, really.  I liked it.
Verdict:  Should you see Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies?  If you can forgive a silly premise and some bad acting, it's worth a look.  Watch it for Oberst's Lincoln if nothing else. 

Score:  3 out of 5


  1. Hey Nate!

    I want to thank you for the kind words.

    Why take the role of Lincoln?

    Firstly, I loved Richard Schenkman's script (which was actually much cooler than what we were able to shoot on a low budget; he had a blazing Gatling gun and swarming zombie hordes ala Walking Dead in Atlanta and flaming wagons of hay mowing down the burning undead...there was a damned good $1.2 million movie in that script!)

    Secondly, what actor could possibly turn down the role of Abraham Lincoln? Besides Liam Neeson,that is. Not me!

    I also thought the ending was clever (reminded me of Harry Turtledove) That was all Richard Schenkman's idea. He fought hard to keep that ending in the movie.

    Nice blog! I'll be a new reader. Thank you for allowing me to comment.

    best regards,

  2. Thank you for commenting.

    A Gatling gun and flaming hay wagons sure would have been cool, but for me, good acting comes first. So I'm glad you didn't turn down the role. With anyone else, save perhaps for Mr. Neeson or Daniel Day-Lewis, the movie wouldn't have worked nearly as well.

    I hope to see you in more horror. You not only help to legitimize the genre, you help raise the bar, like Anthony Hopkins did in The Rite and Daniel Radcliffe did in The Woman In Black.

    Please have a healthy and prosperous 2013.