Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies (2012)

I really tossed and turned while considering just how to rate this one. No, no, no, if you came here to read about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter then you have been fooled once again by those cunning marketing folks over at The Asylum. THAT Abraham Lincoln movie is due out very soon but, as usual, The Asylum make up for their lack of originality by getting their movies out there faster and cheaper. I also have the sneaking suspicion that either their movies are getting more enjoyable or that my brain has just given up and started to enjoy micro-holidays while I watch them.

What do I need to tell you about the film that isn't already spelled out for you there in the title? Not a lot, really. Abraham Lincoln (Bill Oberst Jr) is the presidential figure that you know about from history but what you won't have been aware of is just how he had to do his best to save America from a nasty zombie epidemic. Thankfully, he was pretty happy with sharp, hand-held, weaponry.

Directed by Richard Schenkman (who also wrote the screenplay based on a story idea by Karl T. Hirsch and J. Lauren Proctor based on *ahem* something that clearly inspired them), Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies features many of the usual flaws that movies from The Asylum have. The score is quite bland for most of the runtime - there are a couple of nice moments here and there but a lot of the music just reminds you of something that you'd hear in the background of an advert for some new eco-friendly, gluten-free, hemp-based cheese . . . . . . or something. The acting from most of the supporting players is pretty bad but the edge is taken off the pain by just how good Bill Oberst Jr. is in the lead role. There are also a few good turns elsewhere - Baby Norman is very good as Mary Owens, Canon Kuipers is an enjoyably courageous young Teddy Roosevelt and Christopher Marrone has fun as Pat Garrett. Historical accuracy may not be to the fore but at least the movie doesn't disappoint with the fun factor.

Some moments are very good, very good indeed (including an excellent little punchline to end everything), but you also have the inevitable moments that will make you want to scream at the screen. People who seem to wander backwards slowly, either facing death by zombie with a distinct lack of urgency or allowing death by zombie to sneak up right behind them. There's also some drawn out obstinancy and ignorance that beggars belief, considering what the characters can see happening around them.

The special effects are surprisingly decent throughout and purists will enjoy the fact that these zombies a) don't run and b) require a serious head trauma to be negated as a threat. This enjoyment may, however, be tempered by the fact that these zombies sometimes sleep. Yes, I said sleep. It's a minor detail that's not overused in the film but you have been warned.

All in all, this is as much fun as you should expect it to be, thanks in no small part to a fantastic central performance and an entertaining central premise copied stolen cribbed derived from other works.



  1. *Sigh*

    I hate Asylum. Yet another one I don't want to watch but have to see because it sounds kinda awesome.

  2. Hands down the harshest thing ever said about a score I worked on but at least you made me laugh with your description of it. I'll have to quote that 'gluten-free, hemp-based' quote on my business cards.
    For what it's worth, there was less than 7 days to score the entire film and the best possible effort was made on all fronts. Bill's performance was amazing and I'm happy he is getting the recognition he deserves.

  3. Hey, Kevin:

    Ordinarily I would not post a comment regarding a review of the film, because certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion. But I want to respond to the notion (accusation?) that the story was in any way cribbed from any other source.

    Neither my collaborators nor I ever read Graeme-Smith's book or screenplay before concocting our story. If there are any similarities to "A.L.: V.H", they are purely coincidental. I didn't even watch their first teaser-trailer until we had wrapped our shoot.

    We were given a title by the Asylum, and left free to create an original tale. The tie-in with the Gettysburg Address was my idea, and Lauren and Karl contributed vast amounts of story as well, but all of it was entirely original.

    Except for the bit I stole from "Hamlet".

    ---Richard Schenkman

  4. Sorry Chris. I did enjoy the few familiar motifs worked throughout your score but decided from the outset to just have fun with this review, as I do with many reviews for movies from The Asylum - a lot of people disregard their output immediately and I have happily defended a lot of their works.

    I appreciate your comment, Richard, and hope you rest assured that I was poking fun at the standard approach from the studio rather than seriously accusing you or Lauren or Karl. I actually admire the fact that The Asylum is always so open and full of good humour about what they set out to do while so many critics attack their lack of originality before defending the Hollywood inspiration (as happened most recently with American Warship, which I reviewed here and defended). Hollywood is just insanely jealous of seeing a business model that clearly works. Many thanks for the replies, guys, and I really appreciate the extra info too.