“Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies” (2012)
by A.J. Hakari
Sorry, but I’ve never felt compelled to jump on the Asylum bandwagon. I know the audience for this studio and its legion of sound-alike cash-ins on Hollywood blockbusters is driven mainly by irony, and the movies themselves know full well how crummy they are. But so what? A horribly-made film is still a horribly-made film, no matter how loudly it gloats about how shitty it is. Yet, with great hesitance, I popped in Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, based solely on the surprisingly positive buzz heard from my trusty circle of cinefriends. Well, it certainly isn’t the most inept thing the Asylum ever made, but it’s a rotten flick regardless, a mundane production that, much like the one it’s riffing on, doesn’t know what a good premise it has going for it.
Abraham Lincoln (Bill Oberst Jr.) accomplished a great many deeds during his presidency. He emancipated the slaves, led our country through the Civil War’s darkest days, and — in one of his less-chronicled exploits — sliced up the living dead. Having first encountered zombies firsthand as a child, Abe must confront this evil force once more on the eve of his famous Gettysburg Address. When a mission gone wrong has the stench of the undead hanging over it, Lincoln himself leads a small band of men to get to the bottom of things. Their destination is a fort found to be teeming with flesh-eating ghouls, and if he hopes to contain this threat, Honest Abe must get Union and Confederate soldiers alike to team up and mutilate some corpses in the name of peace.
The Asylum’s apathy pisses me off more than it should. They’re smart enough to come up with one attention-grabbing title after another (Titanic II, anyone?), but the fact that not only are the movies themselves crap but that they visibly don’t care that they suck will be forever stuck in my cinematic craw. There’s potential for legit fun to be had with Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, as was there in this past summer’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Neither picture is any less ludicrous than the other, with only budget and filmmaking talent separating the two. Vampire Hunter got a little too straight-faced for my taste, but where it at least attempted establishing a story and character arcs, Zombies doesn’t even mine its title for any decent gags. It’s a utility-grade undead siege flick that just happens to have Lincoln as the hero, in an effort to appear goofy and self-aware without actually being so.
In its defense, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies isn’t a hack job from beginning to end. Being set in one locale most of the time, there are actually few opprtunities for the Asylum’s shoddy green screen work to interrupt the show. The actors all sound like low-rent Ken Burns voiceover artists, and you can tell most of the film’s money went to supplying them with bogus beards, but you sort of get used to it after a while. Hell, even Oberst makes for a pretty good Abe, doing what had to be a Herculean job of staying in character and never winking at the camera. But stripped of its CG bloodshed and digitized dismemberment, Zombies offers next to nothing of value. All we get are a lot of forced one-liners, unfunny cameos from historical figures, and plot holes too gaping to be excused away by, “It’s only a B-movie.”
Like I said, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies has something of a reputation as one of the more tolerable Asylum features, which doesn’t quite bode well for the remainder of its catalogue. Cheesy fun gets it by on a few occasions, but with a name like the one it has, there’s no excuse for it to be as lacking in humor and spark as it is. The film may sound too irresistibly dumb to pass up, but you’re best left freeing your brain cells from the tyranny of boredom that this disappointing ditty has in store.