Oct 25, 2014

Review: Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)

Leave it to The Asylum to ripoff a movie like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Based off a 2010 novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, it made some noise for depicting Honest Abe as some kind of vampire bounty hunter. I think we can all agree that the whole thing sounds pretty awesome, history be damned. So a movie sounded like a great idea if you ask me. Too bad the end result wasn't very good.

2012 was clearly the year of Abraham Lincoln. We had Steven Spielberg's Lincoln with the almighty
Daniel Day-Lewis playing the role of Lincoln and of course the already mentioned Tim Burton produced Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter which featured Benjamin Walker in the starring role. With The Asylum jumping into the fray and changing Lincoln's target from vampires to zombies, you'd think that Bill Oberst Jr. as Abraham Lincoln is in over his head. Surprisingly, you'd be dead wrong.


Genre: action, comedy, horror
Directed by: Richard Schenkman
Produced by: David Michael Latt, David Rimawi, Paul Bales, etc.
Written by: Richard Schenkman
Music by: Chris Ridenhour
Running time: 96 minutes
Production company: The Asylum
Distributed by: The Asylum, Albatros Film, Anchor Bay Entertainment, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $150,000
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Jason Hughley, Jason Vail, Don McGraw, Debra Crittenden, Baby Norman, Hannah Bryan, Christopher Marrone, Canon Kuipers, Kent Igleheart, Rhianna Van Helton, David Alexander, Bernie Ask, Brennen Harper


A ten year-old Abraham Lincoln (Brennen Harper) is forced to kill his own mother after she becomes infected with a disease transforming her into a walking corpse with cannibalistic tendencies. Years later after, Abraham Lincoln (Bill Oberst Jr.) becomes president of the United States as a civil war breaks out. A small regiment that he had sent out to take over a Confederate fort returns with only one man alive, infected with the same disease his mother had. Having firsthand knowledge of the disease, Lincoln sets out with his newly minted secret service to investigate.


Number one thing to remember when watching a movie like this? Throw out the history books because there's just no point. I have to say though that for a movie by The Asylum, the story of Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies reaches pretty high. I don't mean that it's first-rate entertainment, but overall it gets really close to "good B-movie" territory. Some of the ridiculous story elements like Abe having an ex who is now a prostitute are just too funny.

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies has its moments where it's impossible not to crack a smile. Richard Schenkman gives ALvsZ self awareness which is pretty amusing because that's exactly what Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was missing. You just can't be serious with a movie like this.

A big reason for why Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies comes close to falling in that good B-movie category is Bill Oberst Jr. as Abraham Lincoln. There's no question that the dialogue in ALvsZ is poor and overworked, but Oberst Jr. gets his material right. His presence and his delivery during action scenes and speeches is exactly what this movie needed and it's a complete surprise. No, he isn't
Daniel Day-Lewis but he is completely believable as the zombie killing Abraham Lincoln.

So in terms of what's bad in ALvsZ, lots could be said. Like I said, the dialogue is extremely poor and a lot of the actors in small speaking roles aren't the best in their craft. That's not completely fair though because I'm sure that a big reason for this was the very short shooting period to keep costs down. So as a result, actors don't don't get many takes for their scenes. Action sequences are either too frantic and hard to follow or they're mostly just dull. At least the ones that don't involve Oberst Jr. anyway. 

Zombies are not very impressive looking and the effects of when a zombie is killed are just awful. There's not much that's more boring than the same blood spewing effect being used over and over again when a zombie gets killed. The score by Chris Ridenhouris is also generic and at times pretty cheesy.

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies has some ridiculous and silly story elements that are lots of fun. Combined with Bill Oberst Jr. as Abraham Lincoln, it has the makings of a good B-movie. It just doesn't quite get there with a clearly rushed filming schedule and it's punctured by way too many dull moments. A movie like this has got to be fun all the time and ALvsZ clearly isn't. When Oberst Jr. isn't in the scene, it's just a regular Asylum movie that feels lazy and exploitative. I think that The Asylum is maturing as a studio in their unique form of entertainment, but there's still some work to be done if Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is any indication.



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