'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' winning over Lincoln historians
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" won't be in theaters until June 22. But the horror-meets-history thriller that re-envisions our 16th president as an ax-wielding fang-fighter already has an unexpected fan base: historians.
But that fan base didn't develop overnight. When the experts at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., first heard about the fictional book "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," by Seth Grahame-Smith, they were not exactly pleased. Would it make a mockery of the Great Emancipator? Would it ignore Lincoln's pivotal role in history? Would it portray him as a cartoonish figure in a stovepipe hat?
"There was a lot of skepticism, let's just say that," library spokesman Dave Blanchett told The Times.
But "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" appears to be winning over historians with its attention to fact and detail even as it swings wildly into the fantastic and the fictional.
The trailer for the movie was posted online Monday by 20th Century Fox, timed to coincide with the official observances of the 203rd anniversary of Lincoln's Feb. 12, 1809, birth.
That trailer was a mere morsel for the masses when compared to the banquet served up Friday night at the library.
Director Timur Bekmambetov ("Wanted," "Night Watch") and actor Benjamin Walker, who plays Honest Abe, personally introduced several scenes from the movie to library staff and movie critics who flew in as part of a Hollywood junket. Producer Tim Burton couldn't make it, but he sent the next best thing, Blanchette said: a black-and-white digital message with several Burtonesque touches that seemed to thrill those in attendance.
Well? So? What did everyone think of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"?
Blanchette cautioned that the full movie has yet to be screened, but "we enjoyed it. We were told that the movie contains a lot of gore, but what we saw was not gory. It was action-packed."
The library's mission is to foster and encourage interest and research into a man that many believe may be one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- leaders the nation has ever known.
"Obviously, it's not authentic Abraham Lincoln," Blanchette said. "But this is going to attract a new segment of the population to the Abraham Lincoln story that might not otherwise be attracted to it."
He added: "If this movie opens the door to further research, to people who want to learn about the real Lincoln, we are very supportive of the film."
-- Rene Lynch