If your first thought here is, “I think the title is actually ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER,” well you’re wrong. If you’re now thinking, “Aahhh; it’s a mockbuster … we must be dealing with The Asylum,” well then you hit the nail square on the head. ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES is indeed a ‘mockbuster’ (a lower-budgeted version of a big Hollywood release) being put out by The Asylum. Now before you roll your eyes I must remind you that The Asylum has recently put out 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK (my review) and NAZIS AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (my review), two way above average cheese-fests that were a lot of fun. Can The Asylum extend their hot streak to ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES? The film is still going through some final tweaking in post-production, but I was able to catch a screening of it at this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend 2012. This will be released May 29, 2012.
The film opens with a young Abe Lincoln (Brennen Harper) doing some chores around the old log cabin. While out chopping wood he hears some screams from inside the cabin and goes off to investigate. It seems dear old mom turned into a zombie and is chained up in bed. Dad tried to put her outta her misery but messed up and shot himself (?!?). So it’s left to ‘lil Abe to clean up the mess. Cue gunshot and opening credits. Now ‘lil Abe is all grown up and the sixteenth President of the United States. It seems Abe (now played by Bill Oberst Jr.) is up to his nipples in the civil war and a raid on a strategic fort ended badly for the Union. Now rumors are starting to spread about dead soldiers and civilians re-animating and attacking the living. But old Abe knows this isn’t a rumor; he fought the deadly virus and saw its effects when young and knows this is a problem that must be dealt with quickly and effectively.
In order to deal with this new zombie threat, Abe puts together the best men in the newly formed Secret Service and sets out behind enemy lines. He plans on both putting an end to the zombie plight and to take the strategic fort and tip the scales in the civil war. All the familiar characters are here: John Wilkes Booth, Edwin Stanton, Pat Garrett, Mary Todd Lincoln, a young Teddy Roosevelt, and General Stonewall Jackson. Of course not everything about them is historically accurate, but it’s fun to see how writers Karl Hirsch, J. Lauren Proctor, and Richard Schenkman (who also directed) weave them into the story and play around with their historical personas.
After the setup and Lincoln and his posse arrive at the fort, the shit hits the fan and they find themselves trapped, having to fight for their lives against the rather goofy looking zombies that have surrounded the fort. The good news is that there’s a lot of zombies. The bad news is that most of them consist of a little greenish pancake makeup and fake blood on their faces and cloths. The rest of the film plays out pretty much as you expect it to. There is, though, one particular element that makes ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES pretty fun: actor Bill Oberst Jr. In general, the writers never take themselves too seriously and they try to keep everything moving along at a good pace. There’s a few moments that drag on and a few clever moments with some of the historical figures, but overall ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES suffers from a rather bland story. Luckily the filmmakers were smart enough to hire Bill Oberst Jr. to play the lead. Oberst puts in a really great performance and plays the role with a lot more sophistication than is written. He manages to find a really nice balance of playing the role of Lincoln as a serious and brooding statesman as well as a zombie-slaying, one-liner dropping badass (in one scene Abe screams out, “Emancipate this,” as he beheads a zombie). He blends this performance perfectly and makes it believable. Oberst is really great in this role. The other cast members are a mixed lot, some doing a good job while others over act like you expect to find in a film by The Asylum.
But the biggest problem here is, as mentioned above, the rather bland plot. There’s nothing that really grabs you (other than Oberst’s performance). The zombie killing scenes are filmed in a more “action flick” fashion than as a horror film. Everything, of course, is CGI here; the blood, most of the flames, a lot of the beheadings, and this is a shame. Just imagine an excessively gory flick about Abe Lincoln kicking some serious zombie ass all covered in blood and guts. That would’ve been badass. But what we get in ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES is your standard action kills of CGI beheadings and inconsistent moments where sometimes you need a headshot to kill the zombies while other times you can simply stab them in the chest to kill them. As I mentioned above, there’s a lot of zombies in this film to keep the main cast in constant danger, but they aren’t the best looking or acting zombies around.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES isn’t the best film The Asylum has put out, but on the other hand it’s not the worst either. There’s some fun elements in the story (playing around with history) and some pretty bland elements (the plot, unfortunately). But Bill Oberst Jr.’s performance alone is worth watching this one. He really owns this role and does a fantastic job. Just don’t expect to have bodies four score and seven men deep (sorry; couldn’t help myself). Look for this one on May 29, 2012.
Director: Richard Schenkman
Plot: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 4 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer from the Texas Frightmare Weekend 2012