For the most part, video stores are dead, save for a handful around the world (read Kate Hagen’s excellent and extensive piece for an idea). Luckily, I work at Best Video, one of the last remaining vestiges to the golden days of renting, where streaming meant perusing shelves in hope of finding the last copy of whatever your parents wouldn’t let you catch in theaters. Each and every day I stock the same old shelves so those out there looking to romanticize renting can do so, often finding myself absently surfing the horror section; a 1,000 film wall that hides some of the genres greatest (and worst) contributions.
So I decided to take on the task, a journey if you will, of combing through every single title within the horror genre at work, A to Z. This is that journey, and as the saying goes, a journey of a thousand films begins with a single scream…
Oh, and follow #AtoZhorror on Instagram and Twitter @reelbrew for every terrifying pit-stop! Enjoy!
A: Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012), directed by Richard Schenkman
He Emancipated the Slaves…He Saved the Union…and Slaughtered the Undead!
Author Seth Grahame-Smith’s revisionist history lesson, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, told how the 16th President released the United States of America from throngs of hellish bloodsuckers in between emancipating the slaves, becoming the first of his works to be adapted for the big screen (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would follow four years later). So naturally The Asylum, a production company infamously known for riffing off blockbusters – Transmorphers [‘07] and The Terminators [‘09] are two in a cache of explosively poor titles – released Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies a month before its bigger budgeted ilk hit theaters, and while it’s far from the worst thing a fake President has ever done (we can look to the current Oval Office for that), it’s a cinematic misfire as deadly as Trump’s Home Alone 2 [‘92] cameo.
Opening with a young Abe (Brennen Harper) taking a scythe to his own flesh hungry and bed ridden mother (Rhianna Van Helton) after witnessing his father (Kent Iglehart) commit suicide, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies whisks us away to a country ravaged by racism, war and zombies. Lincoln (a stalwart Bill Oberst Jr.), now President, leads a group of secret service men – one conveniently named Jonathan Wilkinson (Jason Vail) – across Georgia in order to eradicate the zombie epidemic and gain control of Confederate occupied land. Along the way, patriotically mumbled speeches are given, General Stonewall Jackson (Don McGraw) is introduced as a morally estimable man and Mary Owens (Baby Norman), a woman who hid under the guise of her husbands brother to fight in the war, is discovered as a prostitute.
Now if you’ve ever learned anything about the Civil War in grade school, then you’ll know very well that most of what you learn is historically inaccurate, or at the very least skewed to hit the perspective of your geography. Some were taught that the war rested on state rights, while others believe it was slavery. Somewhere in between those two camps of thought, nestled next to a smoky bowl of grade A Kush is the idea that a young Teddy Roosevelt (Canon Kuipers) hid in a barn with Mary Owens, the harlot.
It’s a slice of the American dream that director Richard Schenkman (The Man from Earth [‘07]) plucks freely from the blend of storytelling Grahame-Smith popularized. Half baked, overly long and preposterously dull, which is saying a whole lot for a film that has Lincoln exclaim, “Confederate this!” before lopping the CGI head off a neighboring zombie.
For most of its plodding 96 minute run-time, Lincoln never seems to free the slaves, nor the fun that could be found in a Civil War zombie flick. Countless undead are maimed and dismembered, releasing spurts of CGI blood that look as fake as Lincoln’s mole. It’s a lifeless addition to the infrequent blood splatter that feels hastily added in a hackneyed attempt to acquire a release before its big budgeted counterpart, never embracing the tongue in cheek humor of its own absurdity. When Jonathan Wilkinson refuses to assassinate Lincoln during his daily prayer, proclaiming that in doing so it would ensure his soul going to heaven, one can only wish for such a quick and painless release from the cold, dead clutches of Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (spoiler: it never comes).
Add Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (or don’t!) to your collection!