Archives for posts with tag: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

abraham-lincoln-vs-zombies

As little excuse as the execrable Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter had to exist, the coattail-clawing clunker cash-in Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies has even less – and it knows it.  Dimly lensed, indifferently scripted, and uninterestingly cast, this tale of a covert mission behind enemy lines to halt a Confederate zombie plague is itself no livelier than a lumbering, moaning member of the living dead.

Stifling any potential from the beginning is the film’s confused sense of its own identity.  With a ridiculous rip-off premise begging for high camp comedy treatment, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies opts instead to play its material straight, offering only the driest and crumbliest crumbs of attempted humor and usually preferring to bore the viewer with Spielbergian solemnity and sentimentality: “Be brave, Abe.  You’re resolute.  You know what must be done.”  The titular zombies, laggards all, provide paltry suspense as America’s worst commander-in-chief (Bill Oberst Jr.) again rises to the superheroic occasion by shooting and slicing through the evil hordes with his trusty populist scythe – or is it a commie sickle?  (Like a good Jacobin, Lincoln prefers to behead the unenlightened.)

Had it been made in 1990, starred Leslie Nielsen, and laughed at itself with a go-for-broke gonzo parody approach, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies might at least have had the potential, like Nielsen’s Repossessed, to become in retrospect a cheesy and groan-inducing but ultimately pleasing artifact of lame comedy nostalgia.  As is, however, the film offers next to nothing to make it worth the viewer’s while.  “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here,” Lincoln says as part of his Gettysburg Address – and no more fitting tribute could possibly be paid to Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, a wholly superfluous, tedious, and forgettable offense on film.

A star and a half.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is:

7. Family-ambivalent.  “I’d rather start a family and ride horses,” Pat Garrett (yes, the Pat Garrett, played by Christopher Marrone) says when Lincoln suggets he enter politics or law enforcement.  “An appealing path, to be sure,” Lincoln concurs.  It should also be noted, however, that the president’s superhero origin prologue depicts him executing his own zombified mother.  (Cf. Warm Bodies no. 6)

6. Class-conscious.  “What would the cream of Washington society make of you, my dear?” John Wilkes Booth (Jason Vail) muses judgmentally, contemplating a whore as she sleeps.

5. Feminist/pro-slut.  A poor, oppressed prostitute excuses her whoredom by complaining that the oldest profession is the only work available to unmarried women in her area.  Old unprogressive fogey Stonewall Jackson (Don McGraw) objects to the presence of a “fallen woman”.

4. Bi-partisan.  General Jackson redeems himself by joining forces with Lincoln and, like Dr. King in Django Unchained, playing the sacrificial honky.  “We are all Americans.”  All of the biologically and morally unsalvageable corpses, however, must be exterminated.

3. Anti-white.  Mary Owens (Baby Norman) hints at the symbolic significance of the plague when, describing her own zombification experience, she says, “It’s like a fog is descending . . .”

2. Statist.  Lincoln avuncularly passes the torch to future fellow office-abuser Teddy Roosevelt (Canon Kuipers), who gets to perch on the Great Emancipator’s shoulders to aim his rifle over a wall and pick off zombies.

1. Anti-racist/anti-slavery (i.e., pro-yawn on both counts).  “I’m not your boy,” token black character Wilson Brown (Jason Hughley) sasses when someone good-naturedly calls him “m’boy”.

Slightly less simplistic and ridiculous than this past summer’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Steven Spielberg’s snooze-inducing Lincoln – which, for the purposes of this review, shall go by the more appropriate and poetic title Stinkoln – is a study in arrogant Hollywood leftism thinly disguised as a prestigious period piece and civics lesson.  The essence of bare-assed propaganda, Stinkoln has multiple ulterior motives, which, however, are unified by the idea that the United States are a cess pit of ethical retardation and gross injustice, a situation that can be remedied only by a dictatorial executive beloved of “the people” and “clothed in immense power”.

Stinkoln fires its first shot with inspiring footage of black soldiers shooting, stabbing, and strangling white soldiers in open race warfare, after which two of the heroic Negroes pester the president himself for a raise and complain about their second-class citizen status.  Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis, doing his best Walter Brennan impression) gives evidence in this, his first scene, of what a shrewd politician he is by listening sympathetically, but then pretending to be half-senile and abruptly changing the subject, telling unfunny jokes instead of answering the Negroes’ concerns.  Lame comedy, unfortunately for the viewer, is a tactic that will be shamelessly employed by the commander-in-chief throughout the film, which focuses specifically on Lincoln’s crafty intention to stall peace negotiations with the Confederacy in order to force the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, finally abolishing slavery.  Opposition is strong in that “rat’s nest” of “hicks and hacks” the House of Representatives, however, and securing the necessary votes is no easy task for the Anointed.

David Strathairn, veteran of another self-congratulatory and horribly overrated liberal propaganda film, 2005’s Good Night, and Good Luck, appears as Lincoln’s David Axelrod, William Seward, the unscrupulous muscle whose duties as Secretary of State also include overseeing a posse of political operatives engaged in bribing and browbeating representatives into enacting the people’s will.  Alternately aiding and irritating the president is First Lady Mary (Sally Field), an erratic, self-important ditz who characterizes her headaches as “another casualty of the war”.  Tommy Lee Jones steals the show, however, as Lincoln’s cantankerous, insult-spouting Marxist id, the abolition-uber-alles Radical Republican Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt also figures in the cast of hundreds, wasting a few minutes of his promising career as Lincoln’s idealistic first son Robert.

As a costume drama Stinkoln succeeds in recreating the look and feel of a place and time.  It sacrifices most of the entertainment value it might have had, however, in functioning as a political passion play.  Sanctimonious, rigid, hateful, and partisan, Stinkoln has nothing but smiling contempt for its audience, the American people.  Presenting a righteously reconfigured genocidal Ozymandias archetype for popular adoration and executive imitation, this freak-bearded Kool-Aid pitcher of a film is not only irresponsibly subversive but – arguably more unforgivable – actually boring. Lincoln’s dialogue consists almost entirely of purple prose that constantly chafes the viewer’s patience and makes this two-and-a-half-hour lecture on freedom feel more like four hours of chain-dragging bondage.  One of the kookiest, most cocksure, cruddy, overstuffed, oversimplified, overwrought, overbearing, and overlong offerings of Steven Spielberg’s overly hyped career, Stinkoln earns 2.5 of 5 stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Stinkoln is:

7. Anti-tobacco.  Second-hand smoke agitates emphysema.  An evilly racist representative rudely spits tobacco juice after voting against the Thirteenth Amendment.

6. Pro-miscegenation.  Thaddeus Stevens, Stinkoln reveals, has secretly been balling his black housekeeper, and therefore has more than a humanitarian motivation to pass the Thirteenth Amendment if he wants to keep the taste of that sweet brown sugar on his crusty, lusty old white lips.

5. Militarist/pro-NWO.  Government-directed bloodshed is the Philosopher’s Stone of social justice.  Brainwashed Robert, after seeing a patriotic heap of severed body parts, decides he is “nothing” if he fails to enlist to assist in the extermination of the enemies of the state.  Featured prominently in one scene is a George Washington statue by Frenchman Jean-Antoine Houdon (who also sculpted Rousseau and Napoleon), depicting America’s first president resting his left hand significantly on a fasces.

4. Anti-South.  Southern diplomats are pale, vampiric creatures who wince at the sunlight on emerging from the coffin-like darkness of their carriage (cf. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).  Robert E. Lee is, however, granted at least a measure of dignity of bearing in his brief appearance to throw in the towel.

3. Egalitarian, and specifically espousing a form of liberation theology.  Lincoln derives his power to redistribute property from “the people”, who, however, have defective moral compasses and require a man of superior fiber and spirituality to lead them to glory.  Equality = Fairness = Justice in Lincoln’s sophistic recipe for a moral economy.  Before his assassination, the president tells his wife he would like to travel in the Holy Land and visit Jerusalem, thus setting up the tacky Jesus comparison that finds its explicit expression in the beatific deathbed tableau, with Daniel Day-Lewis aglow in demise and looking like the figure in Bernardo Strozzi’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ.

2. Anti-slavery (i.e., pro-yawn).  Tad Lincoln (Gulliver McGrath) appears as a whiny, neurotic mess wracked by acute white guilt.  He divides his time between playing with toy soldiers and staring with naked self-loathing at photographic plates of miserable slaves.  One of the White House domestics recalls being beaten with a shovel as a child.  The horror!

1. Obamist/Machiavellian.  Political oppostion and pesky legal restraints are to be overcome by any necessary means.  What this country needs, Stinkoln dares to suggest, is an enlightened despot “clothed in immense power”.  It helps the masses to swallow the bitter pill of tyranny, however, if their dictator presents himself as Main Street incarnate, a folksy figure of Andy Griffith wholesomeness (think A Face in the Crowd) who tells jokes and anecdotes and whittles during strategy meetings.

abraham-lincoln-vampire-hunter

America’s worst president gets the superhero treatment in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Actually dumber than I thought it would be, this reeking hunk of historical brain damage comes packed with boring characters, endless speed-up/slow-down bloodletting, and enough sanctimonious posturing to stock White House larders until John Brown’s apocalyptic resurrection.  A description of one moment from the film should suffice to indicate its level of stupidity.  In one scene, stampeding horses come thundering out of nowhere, and a vampire picks up one of the horses (!) and throws it on top of Lincoln, who gets up unhurt (!) and jumps from horse to horse like an acrobat.  Utterly condescending trash.  2 stars that belong behind bars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is:

6. Pro-drug.  Lincoln’s vampire hunter mentor takes a toke from a hookah, which is probably an indicator of this film’s intellectual genesis.

5. Feminist.  Even Mary Todd gets to play rough at the end.

4. Egalitarian.  Lincoln calls for silver tableware to be sacrificed to forge vampire-annihilating, racism-destroying weapons.

3. Pro-miscegenation, with slavemasters’ intense desire for black flesh sublimated into hissing vampiric bloodlust.

2. Anti-South.  This film actually manages literally to dehumanize
southerners, who, as it turns out, comprise a vast empire of the vampires.  Not only slavemasters, but whole Confederate armies, apparently, are inhuman.

1. Anti-slavery (i.e., pro-yawn)

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