One of the more intriguing titles on offer at your local bookshop, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (AL:VH) is a fictional (or alternative) biography of Abe Lincoln that posits him as an ass-kicking vampire hunter, a tortured hero who spent his days stalking the corridors of power and his nights stalking vampires across the country. If one were to ignore received wisdom and judge the book by its cover, it would seem like a really great book. The doctored photographs and mysterious blurb are all designed to lure the reader into making a purchase that seems worthwhile but is, in fact, a waste of time and money.
The book itself manages to be asinine and takes itself far too seriously. The book’s central conceit is so poorly rendered and dull that reading the book is a chore. It’s sad that there isn’t an established practice of rewriting books, like there is of remaking films, because a truly talented writer could have made this story really shine. In the hands of Stephen King, this would have been a phenomenal read but, as it stands, the ‘talents’ of Seth Grahame-Smith just don’t cut the proverbial mustard. He somehow makes the story of a presidential vampire hunter in the 1800’s an unpleasant and tiresome read – perhaps it’s because he has ideas above his station, and tries to turn the book into a black-and-white tale of ‘Us vs. Them’ using the most boring and obvious clichés possible – they steal babies! They support slavery! – whilst trying to be very serious about what amounts to a very slim and silly volume. Abe spends more time sighing and crying than he does fighting with demons.
The good news, however, is that this boring novel is due to be turned into a film, with Timur Bekmambatov at the helm. Better known for Wanted than his earlier, stronger and more relevant films Night Watch and Day Watch, it’s difficult to see how his action-packed and epic style will suit this sleepy tale of occasional fighting and presidential moping. With Tim Burton as producer and the promotional materials already released, it seems like the makers are positioning this film to slot directly into the gothic / action slot previously occupied by the now withered and tired Sleepy Hollow. It’ll be interesting to see how this film of a forgettable book will take its place in cinematic history. There’s a slim chance that AL:VH could be the next Edward Scissorhands; more likely it will be completely forgotten by this time next year, gone the same way as Dorian Gray and Daybreakers in terms of dispensable goth-lite drivel.