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Film: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

"Only the living can kill the dead."
Henry Sturges

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a film adaptation of the book of the same name. It was released in 2012 and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, produced by Tim Burton, and starring Benjamin Walker in the title role. Seth Graham-Smith adapted the screenplay himself.

Young Abraham Lincoln sees his mother die when he is just a boy. He soon discovers that a vampire is responsible. Swearing vengeance, Lincoln embarks on a personal campaign to hunt and slay the Undead, with help of Henry Sturges.


This film provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: A horse. Thrown, but still pretty abnormal. Also Henry suggests using a silver watch when short on ammunition, and Mary uses the silver sword her son had.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: On the DVD commentary, the author relates that some of the film's detractors say it is "the worst thing to happen to Abraham Lincoln in the theatre". He's chuckling as he tells this to the audience.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Unlike in the book, the film never lets us know the extremely important, historically crucial issue of whether or not John Wilkes Booth was a vampire.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Seth Grahame-Smith has admitted making changes to his book's story to make it a better fit to the screen, including creating a specific antagonist and some larger-scale action sequences.
  • All Of It: Abe's response when asked how much silver they should collect to forge into ammunition.
  • An Axe to Grind: Abe's weapon of choice.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Slavery. A means for Southern plantations to obtain cheap labor? No, that's just what they want you to think. Slavery was really a ploy by vampires to obtain a steady source of nourishment all along. When Lincoln's Gettysburg Address mentioned "government of the people, by the people, and for the people," he wasn't talking about democracy, he was talking about wanting a country run by human beings instead of the undead.
  • As the Good Book Says: Biblical quotes and references abound. In particular, the trailer quotes Revelations (by way of Johnny Cash) concerning Death appropriately enough.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Adam, presumably thanks to 5000 years of experience. His sister Vadoma as well.
  • Automaton Horses: Speed's carriage running straight through a wall.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Abe and Will during the Traintop Battle.
  • Badass: Abe, Henry and Adam.
  • Badass Longcoat:
    • Abe wears his famous longcoat at various points in the film, usually to conceal his ax.
    • Adams also wears one.
  • The Baroness: Vadoma, of the "sexpot" variety. (Watch her moan as she pins Abe down between her legs.) True to the trope, since she never falls for the hero, she dies.
  • Bash Brothers: Abraham and his Black Best Friend Will Johnson.
  • Batman Gambit: Speed tells the vampires about the train carrying silver weapons the Union Army, claiming he's trying to get back at Abe for tearing the country apart over slavery. Adam and a mass of other vampires ambush the train, but it turns out to be carrying a cargo of rocks. Speed, Lincoln & friends soon turn the tables on their attackers. Meanwhile, the real silver is transported to the Union camp by a group of freed slaves. As Will puts it, "There's another railroad"... the Underground Railroad.
  • Big Bad: Adam, the apparent leader of all the vampires in America.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Speed's saving Will and Abe from Adam and Vadoma by means of smashing through their front door with a horse and carriage!
    • A more minor example happens between Will and Abe. Will is out of ammo and is just frantically working to release the brakes when a vampire closes in and gets ready to lunge. Cue Abe shooting the vampire with his axe-gun.
    • Henry has one too, arriving in the nick of time saving Abe from being bitten by Adam.
  • Big "NO!": Lincoln when Adam kills Speed.
  • Black Best Friend: A rather straight and blunt example with Will, who doesn't exist in the novel and yet without Henry's training shows himself to be just as good at killing vampires in close combat as Abe. While Will Johnson wasn't in the novel, he was a real historical figure, as Lincoln's driver and close friend.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted and very much played with. There are a lot of moments in which Lincoln's Black Best Friend Will seems the first of the main characters to die, but he never does. Even during the climax he has plenty of almost-deaths - and then Speed suddenly gets it.
    • Never mind that the real Joshua Speed outlived Lincoln by at least twenty years.
  • Blondes are Evil: Vadoma. Good Christ, Vadoma. Crosses into Evil Is Sexy, Dark Action Girl and Would Hurt a Child.
  • Book Ends: Lincoln's opening narration about history preferring myth to men is repeated during the end of the movie. Likewise, the final scene is set in the present day, with Henry's first meeting with Lincoln being repeated with a new potential hunter.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Abe, after Henry trains him.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early on, Henry tells Abe that the blunderbuss is the best gun to use, since even if you drop the shot, the gun is large enough that you can still load it with something else. He suggests that Lincoln load the blunderbuss with his pocket watch if he loses his ball. Guess what Lincoln later uses to kill Adam?
  • Completely Different Title: Foreign markets have given the film several different titles, including President Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Russia, Thailand, Taiwan), Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Hong Kong, South Korea), The Legend of the Vampire Hunter (Italy), and Secret Diary of the Vampire Hunter (Portugal).
  • Cool Guns: Henry has a collection of several.
  • Cool Shades: Wearing these is a telltale sign that someone's a vampire, since their eyes are sensitive to sunlight. Yes, that includes Henry.
  • Creator Cameo: Grahame-Smith admitted the potential vampire hunter at the end is played by him in an interview with Time Magazine.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Thanks to the sun screen the vampires can walk in daylight.
  • Death by Irony: Both Adam and Vadoma are killed by silver Tragic Keepsakes.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: After Jefferson Davis recruits the vampires into the Confederate Army and things start to go sour at Gettysburg, Lincoln devises a plan to gather up all the silverware in Washington and melt it down to produce silver ammunition. This ends up being the focal point of the final battle between Lincoln and the bad guys.
  • Disc One Final Boss: You didn't expect Jack Barts to get killed off so early, did you?
  • The Dragon: Adam's sister Vadoma.
  • Dragon Their Feet: When Adam is killed by Lincoln in their final fight, Vadoma goes after Mary... and ends up shot right in the forehead.
  • Dual Wielding: Will wields two pistols to great effect in the final battle.
  • The Empire: The vampires effectively control the south, using the slave system as an endless supply of food. With Adam's death and the end of the slave system, the empire collapses and most of the vampires flee the country.
  • Eureka Moment: Lincoln comes up with the idea of making silver ammunition after declaring the Union's bayonets as useless as a (silver) fork. You can see the gears in his head starting to turn even as he finishes saying it.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Realistically speaking, Lincoln's distinctly Wuxia fighting style, learned from Henry, couldn't have been mastered in the year or so he spent training. Though there's no mention of anything superhuman about it, the vampire-hunting trade seems to almost be treated like some kind of special superpower, with Lincoln "learning" to pull off feats that reach Charles Atlas-levels.
  • Evil Is Hammy: All the vampires are this.
  • Eye Scream: In his first duel with his mother's murderer, Abraham puts a bullet right in his eye. Being a vampire, he survives, but is rendered partially blind. During their rematch, Abe shoots him in the other eye, downing him long enough to finish him off.
  • Fake Defector: Speed pretends to sell out Lincoln in order to lure Adam into a trap.
  • Fatal Family Photo: A Union soldier kisses a picture of his wife/girlfriend before a battle. He's going up against vampires.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: A rare evil version: the vampires want, "a nation of their own".
  • Foregone Conclusion: Any American who paid attention in history class would know from the start that William was gonna die. Also, the film ends with Abe going to the theater after having won the war.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Despite being rated R, the film has a few of these when Lincoln decapitates vampires, including when he finishes off Barts.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Abraham Lincoln is not just an abolitionist politician, but a vampire hunter who kicks major ass with his axe.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Most of the historical characters if we go by the casting. Somewhat justified in that half the plot takes place when characters were younger, and the later period uses aging prosthetics.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Lincoln and the Union's fight to abolish slavery and keep the United States together is to rid the country of its vampires.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The Confederacy is run behind the scenes by a vampire hierarchy, and the slave system is used to provide the vampires with a steady supply of Human Resources.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Sturges
  • Improvised Weapon: During Abraham's rematch with the vampire who killed his mother, said vampire throws a horse at him. note 
  • Indecisive Deconstruction: With its dead serious dramatic delivery and completely insane fight sequences, the film is either a mediocre action movie or an excellent deconstruction of how schizophrenic action movies can be in their presentation.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted with Abe's son.
  • Large Ham: Dominic Cooper as Henry has his moments.
  • Like Cannot Cut Like: Usually this trope applies only to weapons, but due to a "one of God's little tricks", vampires can't kill each other. (They can still fight and do harm to each other, but Some Kind of Force Field prevents anyone from landing killing strikes.) This is why Henry trains hunters like Abe to act as proxies.
  • Mama Bear: Mary Lincoln. Bet you regretting killing their son now, don't you Adam/Vadoma?
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Mary Todd.
  • Meaningful Name: Adam is the first vampire of the New World.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Abe's axe starts as a normal axe, but gets a gun hidden in the handle in time for his rematch with Barts. And soon after that, we see a bayonet on it in the train.
  • The Mockbuster: Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, courtesy of The Asylum. Notably not that bad as far as mockbusters go.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: A literal example. While Abe rides after his mother's killer during the horse stampede, they both fall down a large cliff into a valley. Illinois is perhaps one of the flattest states in America. Finding a cliff is more than a little difficult. And to top that off, the events leading up to this involve them starting at some waterfront and then bounding across the great plains before tumbling down said cliff.
  • The Necrocracy: The Confederate States are in fact run behind the scenes by a vampire oligarchy led by the first vampire, Adam, and the system of slavery is there to provide them with a regular food source.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Seth Graham-Smith and Timur Bekmambetov have both likened the movie to a superhero origin story.
  • Oh Crap: In one scene, Lincoln is fighting vampires within a thick cloud of train steam. He cuts down vampire after vampire, and the music fittingly grows triumphant, when he takes one last swing...and the ax stops mid-swing. Some of the steam then blows aside to reveal the Big Bad standing right there, grasping the handle and giving Lincoln the Death Glare.
  • Ominous Fog: The climax of the film, though it's technically steam and smoke billowing out from the train's chimney. The effect is the same, though as the end result is a scene engulfed in water vapor. On top of the ominousness, it also happens to give the fight scene a slick visual style.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In addition to the differences established in the book, the film has vampires being able to turn invisible, and also making it so that they're physically incapable of killing each other (which is why Henry trains disciples like Abe; they can do what he can't).
  • Papa Wolf: At the beginning of the film, Abe's dad gets an epic moment when he beats the crap out of a slave hunter who was whipping Will and Abe. Given the relationship between Lincoln and his father in Real Life, this could also count as a Historical Hero Upgrade.
  • Precision F-Strike: Barts (the vampire who killed Lincoln's mother) upon realizing Abe's come back for a rematch:
    "Abraham fucking Lincoln."
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Adam and lesser vampires indulge in Fantastic Racism and promote slavery.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Adam claims he has lived for nearly 5000 years, and flashes back to the pyramids being built.
  • Sarcastic Confession: During a dinner date with Mary Todd, Lincoln dozes off into his tea. His justification? He spends his nights hunting vampires.
  • Sibling Team: Adam and Vadoma, the leaders of the American vampires.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: Biologically they're pretty much in the middle of the scale, leaning a bit to unfriendly. Other than a bite that inevitably turns or kills the victim, vampires have no innate compulsion towards evil.
  • Southern Gothic: the Old South is full of vampires who attack and Kill Lincoln's family, incite the civil war and eventually have Lincoln murdered.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: If you've seen any trailer for the film, you'll know that the climax takes place on top of a train-and that it'll eventually come crashing down on a burning bridge.
  • Traintop Battle: The film's climax has one of these between Lincoln and his allies and Adam and his Mooks atop the train carrying silver ammunition to the Union troops in Gettysburg. Except the silver is actually somewhere else
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: The plan is to produce silver ammunition and ship it over to Gettysburg with the vampires being none the wiser, which the audience is made well aware of in advance; naturally, the vampires find out about it and make their strike. This is then subverted when it turns out that there was in fact a crucial unspoken part of the plan, and the vampires played right into it.
  • Vampire Monarch: Adam is the ruler of all the vampires in America.
  • Vulnerable Convoy: The train full of (supposedly) silver ammunition that's vital to the war effort. The entire climax of the movie centers around Abe and co. defending it.
  • We Have Reserves: Adam sacrifices an entire ballroom full of his minions in order to test how powerful Lincoln is.
  • World of Badass: There is not a single character in this film who isn't a badass.


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