Taking an axe to history

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am


You may know Abraham Lincoln as the 16th president of the United States of America, a beloved hero in American history, who helped emancipate the slaves and lead the nation to new frontiers.

But did you know he was a vampire hunter?

According to Seth Grahame-Smith's novel of alternative fiction, Lincoln was one of the world's more prolific slayers of the undead.

The idea of Lincoln as a vampire hunter sounds over-the-moon absurd. Yet Grahame-Smith has a knack for transplanting bizarre fiction into the historical. At the centre of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the most highly regarded president and his superhero aura.

'Lincoln's life story is an archetypal superhero origin story,' says Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the script for the film. 'He's as close to an actual superhero as [America's] ever seen.

'Forget vampires. Lincoln had neither family name nor money. His mother died when he was a youngster: everybody he loved had died. With no education, and armed with only his mind, he became president and saved the nation.'

Grahame-Smith thought of the Vampire Hunter idea while promoting his best-selling novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in 2009. He says: 'That year marked the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. Many bookstores on my promotional tour had two displays. One featured books about Lincoln's life; the other was a vampire-themed display, including Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse books,' he says, referring to The Southern Vampire Mysteries upon which the TV series True Blood is based. 'It led me to think about combining the two subjects.'

The Tim-Burton-co-produced and Timur-Bekmambetov-directed film begins with Lincoln as a child in Kentucky. He witnesses the gruesome passing of his mother. It seems no one knows what killed her, but Lincoln does. And he knows the entity responsible, too: vampire Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). From that day on, Lincoln swears to rid the world of evil bloodsuckers.

Lincoln's (Benjamin Walker) quest leads him to cross paths with the charismatic Henry (Dominic Cooper), who takes him under his wing, teaching him the finer points of vampire hunting. But Lincoln is never sure of his master: is he in it for the greater good, or are his intentions fuelled by evil?

Luckily his friend and bodyguard, Will (Anthony Mackie), is on his side, as is his wife Mary (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) - even though she's not wholly aware of his double life.

But will their support be enough as Lincoln enters a desperate war against lead vampire Adam (Rufus Sewell) and the rest of his clan? You'll have to watch to find out.

Contains scenes of violence

Opens July 5