Abe the Vampire Slayer is just the beginning

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Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln in the new film, unleashing the full fury of his wrath against the undead. (Stephen Vaughan / 20th Century Fox)

That Abe Lincoln is a bad dude and no mistake.

 

Saw Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter last week, in 3D no less, and it's pretty good!

People are surprised, but why? Abe always gets voted No. 1 All-Time Prez. Everybody sees him as this hick dweeb loser who makes himself into a god. It's a heart-warmer, equal parts Huck Finn, Revenge of the Nerds, and Patton. This flick just cements the rep.

And can that man sling an ax! The axemanship alone is worth the ducat.

Plus, we learn what the Civil War was really about. Did Miss Blunderfnagel teach you it was moribund agrarian feudalism (South) vs. soulless industrialism (North), where the losers won by infecting the winners? Nah. It was vamps.

Which it was. Vampire movies exist to remind us. Vamps are the principle of evil. They could be anywhere. Anyone. Your local apothecary, your local pastor, even your friendly local slave trader — even him! — could be what comes to undermine everything, suck all necks, damn all souls.

That's what politicians tell us at election time: The other guy runs with the vamps. We U. S. ers love this in our flicks. Invasion of the Body Snatchers: "They're Coming to Get You!" Men in Black: That guy Jeebs at the pawn shop is an alien who deals in intergalactic weaponry. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the best expression yet of the mad paranoia so essential to the American way of life.

Even more important, Abe has saved the [Name of President]: Vampire [Noun Suggesting Obliteration] franchise, getting long in the tooth.

It got off to a great start. George Washington: Vampires Beware! was a smash. No silver-tipped ax for our George; he has those cool silver dentures. You thought he chopped down that cherry tree? No, folks, he choppered it, and wasted the vamps hiding inside.

But then the franchise lost its way. Thomas Jefferson: Vampire Hit-Man was borrrring! Dude stays inside the executive manse and never comes out. How is that a movie? True, at night he goes and wastes vampires — with this copy of the Declaration of Independence. He unrolls it, they see it, they shrivel. By day he writes, by night he shows monsters a text. Made no sense.

But where the series jumped the shark — if it could get that high — was James Madison: Vampire Destroyer. Problem: The guy is so short. His wife, Dolley, she towers over him. He can't lift the ax, so he gets this pathetic little hatchet, runs at the vampires, aaaaaaaaa! — and cuts them off at the knees. Nothing could save it. Not even the all-cast rendition of "I'm Sexy and I Know It" at the credits. Midgety Jim doin' the Aunt Jackie in his leggings, Dolley in her cap. … Roger Ebert was right to call it "the worst miscalculation in the history of American film."

They had a hit with Jimmy Carter: Vampire Hurter Sometimes He Hopes. Pretty hilarious, how instead of the ax, he tries throwing marshmallows and begonias. I didn't get why, at the end, he starts desperately building houses.

And Bill Clinton: Master of Vampires — Devil in a Blue Dress, part sex romp, part vamp-on-vamp crime, that did OK.

What turned it around for good was Ronald Reagan: Vampire Slasher. I was afraid it was going to be too much like Jefferson, because the man does nothing except hire vampires to run the economy. But slick? Oh, yes. When he reads copy, vampire heads melt, eyes explode. He gets everybody to believe it's all going to be OK by magic. Which they still do! Good move to have Reagan himself, as he is today, play the lead.

And now Abe. You have to like the style of that Adam dude, father of all vampires. And that breathtaking CGI sequence where Abe chases the hated Jack Barts over the backs of a nation of stampeding horses, while twirling that mondo, freakish ax — a great visual metaphor for the need to trim government in the middle of a rushing world. By the people, for the people.

Now that plans have been scrapped for Supreme Court: President Killer, know what they should do? Mitt and Obama: Vampire Armageddon Apocalypse. Hey, it's the first POTUS race in which neither guy is even trying to hide his vampire past. Obama? Cringes whenever he sees a crucifix. Foreign. Plays basketball but can't dance. Who does not see what's happening?

And Mitt. Well, Mitt. Vampire and happy to be one, folks. Same hair polish as Reagan. Bain Capital. Remember when Bane the Wrestler defeated the Basket-Nazi? Well, Mitt's got a headlock: Vote for me because I'm a vampire.

It could just be a winner. The movie, I mean.

 

Contact John Timpane at 215-854-4406 or jt@phillynewscom. or on Twitter, @jtimpane.