Friday, June 22, 2012 / 5:26 pm

It’s Stake Time!

Can Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter be the coolest summer movie?

by Gary Phillips

Blade the bad, bad slayer

I didn’t read the book but I fully intend to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  As I’ve previously written here on FourStory, I’m fascinated with our presidents getting retconed as adventurers and superheroes in pop culture.  In that regard, I’m not dismayed that some of the reviews have been as Gina McIntyre and John Horn wrote in their review in the L.A. Times, “mixed to positive.”  Among the downright negative was my man Tim Cogshell on KPCC’s Film Week who called the flick ludicrously awful.  That perhaps if it wasn’t so bad it would be slightly offensive the way in which it reconceived the meat grinder that was the Civil War, fought, primarily, over the issue of slavery.

Apparently there’s a scene in the movie where the so-called President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis signs a pact with the head vampire to wage the War Between the States.  That the Confederate Army is a bunch of vampires and slaves are potential food for the vamps.  Too there’s a nod to Eric Brooks, aka Blade, Marvel’s vampire slayer created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colon.  Blade’s mama was a prostitute who was having complications when she was giving birth to him.  But the doctor turned out to be a vampire named deacon Frost who feasted on mom as baby Blade was born.  This gave Blade vampire-like abilities of increased strength, reflexes and lifespan, but could go out in the daylight.

In the Abraham Lincoln flick a damn dirty vampire kills Abe’s mom when he’s a young man.  Like Blade, he vows to hunt down and destroy each and every one of the red-eyed, pointy toothed bloodsuckers – building, I’m betting, to a showdown with the ghoul who killed his mother.  What with him swinging a big ax and all, heads loped off in 3D coming at you.  Sweet.  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is my kind of popcorn movie.  Though it doesn’t look like it’s going to burn up the box office, so this might be the first and last of the presidential mash-up genre becoming a trend.

Too bad as I was hoping to pitch Ulysses Grant, Secret Agent.  Set before the Civil War, Lieutenant Grant is sent to the border disguised as a cowpoke to look into a robbery of a shipment of rifles and Gatling guns.  What he uncovers is a plot by a madman to take over the Southwest with the aid of the stolen weapons and his army of reptile men who live underground.

Then there’s our first president, George Washington?  He was quite wealthy and what if he knew once the new country was founded there were still enemies who would do us harm operating in the shadows?  He uses his money to buy the right horses for stud to produce fast and string offspring.  He has his buddy Ben Franklin devise gadgets like a mini-flintlock that can shot smoke bombs, and an invisible ink set and special opera glasses than can see the ink.  He even travels to the Far East as he’s hear tales of a way of fighting with your hands and feet unheard of in the Americas.  He returns and becomes the masked Scarlet Patriot, doing battle with the dreaded King Redcoat.

Take that you critics.

Gary Phillips' latest is Treacherous: Grifters, Ruffians and Killers, a collection of his short stories.


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