Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by night, Emancipator by day

Abraham Lincoln: Great Emancipator and Vampire Hunter

Updated: June 14, 2012 04:23 PM EDT
© Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Stephen Vaughan © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Stephen Vaughan

By Dan Meade

(WORLDNOW) -- The plot and title for the upcoming movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter are, for all intents and purposes, the same. It is a film about our 16th president, where he came from, why he became the man he did and how he overcame the great battle of his life. Only instead saving of America from being torn in two he saves America from vampires.

When most people think of Lincoln, they think of the Civil War, abolishing slavery, the Gettysburg Address and the log cabin where he grew up. Students of history will also point out the oratorical prowess that the tall and lanky Lincoln possessed. These are all admirable qualities, but none of them bring to mind an image of a vampire hunter.

Seth Grahame-Smith, screenwriter and author of the book upon which the movie is based, has a different take on Lincoln: "Lincoln's life story is an archetypal superhero origin story. He's as close to an actual superhero as this country's ever seen. Forget about vampires. Lincoln had neither family name nor money. His mother died when he was a youngster. In fact, everybody he loved had died. With no education, and armed with just his mind, he became president and saved the nation."

Grahame-Smith had the idea to combine this image of Lincoln as action hero with hordes of fanged fiends in 2009 while on a book tour behind his previous novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Since 2009 was the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, Grahame-Smith has explained that "many of the bookstores on my promotional tour had two displays: one featured books about Lincoln's life; the other was a vampire-themed display, including the Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse [True Blood] books. It led me to think about combining the two subjects."

Grahame-Smith was able to combine the two subjects by changing Lincoln's origin story. In his telling of it, Lincoln's mother death is cased by a vampire, thereby setting the future president on a life-long course for revenge. Aided by a fellow vampire hunter, the life of Grahame-Smith‘s Lincoln runs as it did in the history books by day, but by night, he hunts vampires.

The conceit of president as action hero isn't a hard one to grasp: Teddy Roosevelt was a Rough Rider while Washington, Jackson, and Eisenhower (to name three) were all decorated war heroes. None of them may have fought vampires, but then again, none of them had to prevent a civil war from destroying the nation either.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opens on June 22, 2012 in wide release.

Dan Meade is the Entertainment editor for Worldnow and was a History major in college. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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