The Asylum is at it again, this time unleashing a mockbuster that riffs off Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Directed by Richard Schenkman (who also wrote the screenplay based on a story concept by Karl Hirsch and Lauren Proctor) and originally released direct-to-video in 2012, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies stars Bill Oberst Jr. as President Lincoln, who it turns out has been plagued by zombies since his youth.
The story begins with Lincoln in his youth, where he watches as his mother turns into a zombie and his father commits suicide as a result. Alone and desperate, Abe takes up a reaper’s scythe, tells his mother that he loves her, and then proceeds to cut her head off. He then finds himself caught up in a zombie outbreak in his local community, which is soon squashed—for now.
The story then moves forward to Lincoln (Oberst) as an adult, at the time at which as President he is dealing with the beginnings of what will become the American Civil War. Lincoln is briefed on various rumors that a Confederate stronghold has been possibly overtaken by a strange but overwhelming force. Lincoln has his suspicions, which are soon verified when he finds that one such soldier has indeed become a zombie.
The bulk of the movie has Lincoln and a newly established Secret Service team go to the fort to solve the mystery and take out the zombie infestation. At the fort, he meets General Stonewall Jackson, as well as cliché characters such as the prostitute with the heart of gold (and old girlfriend) Mary Owns (Baby Norman) and other historical figures, such as a young Teddy Roosevelt (Canon Kuipers). Among the fighters is also a young Pat Garrett (Christopher Marrone). Of course, no story would be complete without a certain agent by the name of John Wilkinson (Jason Vail), who is none other than John Wilkes Booth.
Although not a blockbuster by any means, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies manages to pull off enough charm to make for a night of good popcorn-and-beer entertainment. The movie gets a great beneficial boost from Bill Oberst Jr. as President Lincoln. Oberst does an excellent job essaying the President, bringing out the best qualities of his personality and making him a compelling action figure with a heartwarming core. Introducing zombies into his life may be a bit of a stretch, but Oberst’s earnest determination is worth the movie alone.
I also found it quite fun to learn about all the historical figures and how they weave into the story. Outlandish—yes, but it is still fun. The script also incorporates the zombie menace quite well into various historical events, adding some spice sure to stimulate the imaginations of those who enjoy a good conspiracy yarn (the movie’s ending quips are quite enjoyable).
Despite these enjoyable elements, many may find that the movie drags quite a bit in places and that little is done to advance the zombie genre. A lot of the movie is dedicated to fighting the zombies. These scenes are relatively lackluster, as the zombie makeup isn’t really all that menacing and the actual fights fail to evoke any tension. There’s the usual overreliance on CGI, which is obvious in most of the sequences, and the actors simply do not feel comfortable during these scenes, making their movements too awkward.
Gorehounds are also likely to be disappointed, as Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies lacks the expected amount of blood and gore that this genre often provides so copiously. There are quite a few beheadings, but these are not as shocking, as the CGI is obvious.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is definitely worth watching for fans of the zombie genre and for younger, hipper fans into the literature-history-horror melding that was the rage several years ago (it has dwindled lately). There’s just something about Abe Lincoln wielding a reaper’s scythe to take down a horde of bloodthirsty zombies that really appeals to me. If it does to you, then you must see Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies.