Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Abraham Lincoln, Ron Maxwell Killer

Posted in Media, Memory by Andy Hall on July 16, 2012

I haven’t seen Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and probably won’t until it comes around on cable. But it has been interesting to witness the reaction to it in certain quarters, particularly True Southrons™ who’ve got their butternut panties in a wad over the depiction of Confederates as vampires. I’m not really sure why they’re surprised at this, given that it was a major plot element in Seth Grahame-Smith’s best-selling 2010 novel upon which the movie is based. Even H. K. Edgerton is getting in on the act. That seems to be a lot more entertaining than the movie probably is, trains and trestles and pyrotechnics notwithstanding.

AL:VH isn’t setting any box office records, to be sure. But what’s interesting is how well it’s done compared to other, more serious CW pieces, notably Gettysburg (1993) and Gods and Generals (2003). In its first three weeks, AL:VH has taken in far more at the box office ($34M) than either of those epics did in their entire theatrical runs, after adjusting for inflation. Indeed, AL:VH looks to be on track to outsell both those films, combined, before it ends its theatrical run in the U.S. It’s three-quarters of the way there already:

AL:VH isn’t any great threat to Americans’ understanding of history, nor is it a harbinger of “cultural genocide” or whatever folks are whinging about. It’s a wild-ass fantasy, and is no more libelous of the Confederacy than Gotham City is of New York. Still, it’s too bad the cash follows movies like this, rather than efforts that at least attempt to tell a real story.

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5 Responses

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  1. Rob Baker said, on July 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I’m not really sure why they’re surprised at this, given that it was a major plot element in Seth Grahame-Smith’s best-selling 2010 novel upon which the movie is based.

    Probably because they don’t read.

    Still, it’s too bad the cash follows movies like this, rather than efforts that at least attempt to tell a real story.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_(2012_film)

  2. Al Mackey said, on July 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Andy, I read the book on a lark, and to my great surprise I really enjoyed it. Of course, the movie is usually not as good as the book, but I thought it was a very clever weaving of the vampire story into Lincoln’s life story, with a pretty good twist at the end. I’m thinking of going to see the movie. I find the carping from the southern heritage types amusing as well. It’s about as amusing as the carping when “Cold Mountain” came out because it showed southern women as being loose women who lure men into traps by using their womanly wiles on them. I kid you not, I actually read that complaint on an internet discussion group.

  3. Jim Schmidt said, on July 17, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I saw the film with my boys (18 and 23) last week…I actually enjoyed it…might even read the book…the vampires will scare the bejeebers out of you….there is some good misdirection/twists in the plot…the cruelties of slavery and the threats to freedmen and fugitive slaves in Vampire Hunter seem closer to the truth in Vampire Hunter than in either G’burg or G&G, in my opinion…oh, the best part: Mary Todd Lincoln is smokin’ hot in the film 🙂

    Seriously, though, I read an interesting article a few weeks back – can;t remember where – that places the film (and novel) in the American literary tradition of “tall tales” and it actually made some sense.

    • Rob Baker said, on July 18, 2012 at 9:15 am

      I’ll agree with you there. The vampires definitely gave me a wide eye. I thought the movie differs greatly from the book. I expected as much going in. I think the book trumps the movie in comparison but; the movie was just fun. I enjoyed it.

  4. Foxessa said, on July 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I have developed some problems with this sort of entertainment, along the lines of this, from something I wrote last years:

    Eceptionalism is the potent point of much science fiction and fantasy. Whether YA or adult, the protagonist is part of that imaginary world’s 1%, or if not starting there, will end up in that bracket. Thus, if the science fiction field really is an American conceptio, i.e. U.S. invention, as is often claimed, this exceptionalism reflects our ingrained national self-regard. This can be troublesome when looked at closely. What else that can be disturbin humans have nothing to do with even the ending WWII. Entertainments like A Discovery of Witches, or Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, in which significant events of good or evil of our own recorded history are attributed to supernatual agency seem increasingly a given. Humans are not responsible for what, in fact, we know we are responsible, whether the plays of Shakespeare or slavery.

    That not everyone will see these matters this way, I can understand.


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