'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' trailer: Honest Abe gets his vamp
Talk about historical fiction. Fox has released the first atmospheric, action-packed trailer for its "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," a 3-D summer spectacle film starring relative newcomer Benjamin Walker as a very different incarnation of our venerable 16th president. The trademark beard and stovepipe hat are there, sure, but where in the history books did it say that young Lincoln was a strapping, ax-wielding action hero chopping down vampires with gusto?
The idea for this hodgepodge of history and horror sprang from the mind of Seth Grahame-Smith, a struggling screenwriter turned novelist whose 2009 book “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” sparked the trend of draping genre trappings over classic literature (“Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters,” “Android Karenina,” et al.). For his follow-up, Grahame-Smith reimagined the life of Lincoln through a B-movie lens, penning the manuscript for “Vampire Hunter” in just four months.
The book recounts roughly 45 years of Lincoln’s life, from about 1820 to 1865, tracing his evolution from a poor young man devastated by the loss of his mother, up through his burgeoning interest in politics, his presidency and his assassination at the hands of John Wilkes Booth. While the tale is rooted in factual history, it also posits the fantastic conceit that Lincoln’s secret crusade to drive blood-drinking monsters into extinction influenced nearly every important decision in his life.
In his quest, he finds an unlikely ally and companion in a mysterious man named Henry Sturges (portrayed on screen by Dominic Cooper), who helps him defeat the supernatural foes who seek to uphold the institution of slavery for their own despicable ends.
The film is directed by "Wanted" filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov, and another fantastically minded soul, Tim Burton, is one of the movie's producers. Burton told The Times last year that he immediately sparked to the idea for the film as soon as he heard about the premise.
“Something hit me inside that said I just wanted to see that movie,” Burton said. “I don’t know why. I grew up on weird, perverse movies, and it just seemed like one of those kind of movies that just tapped into my subconscious. I remember going to the Cornell Theater in Burbank, where they’d do like three movies for 50 cents, and that would have been the kind of movie I would have seen there.”
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" opens June 22.
-- Gina McIntyre
Photo: Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) makes a historic speech in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." Credit: Stephen Vaughan / Fox