This one falls into the category of not-very-good movies that I enjoyed the hell out of.
Though I may be being unfair to the movie.
My comment at the end was that when I was fourteen, I would have thought this was a deeply awesome movie. In point of fact, the fourteen-year-old with us thought exactly that. My mistake at the beginning was that I tried to take it seriously for a while. The movie even seems to invite that initially, drawing the viewer down a garden path of secret history and faux period setting. After a while, I realized that expecting historical accuracy from a movie titled Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter was like expecting good theology from Oh, God! [ imdb ].
My “flying snowman” moment came during the stampede scene. (Coincidentally, Lisa Costello felt exactly the same way.) After that, I gave up on parsing this as serious alternate history or even serious horror and watched it as a big, loud comic book. The film became a heck of a lot more fun from there forward. This also nullifies my complaints about everything from the 1980s Goth vampires to the weird dialog to the profoundly ahistorical treatment of Lincoln’s time in the White House. So what? It was fun.
This is an American wu xia movie, in a deep sense, with about as much historical validity as Hero [ imdb ] holds for the Chinese audience. Which is to say, drawing on strong symbolism from our culture’s roots without needing to conform in any way whatsoever to the reality of those symbols.
Reflecting on the film afterward, I decided there were some very subtle things going on in the cinematography and production design. The use of color and texture drawn from nineteenth century photography, including the hand tinting look, is actually quite clever and well executed. Also, nearly invisible as you’re following the action on screen.
Whatever its filmic merits might be on any objective scale, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter lives up to its title, brilliantly doing what it was meant to do: entertain everyone’s inner fourteen-year-old.