It's easy to marvel at the sheer audacity of the title, which takes the Great Emancipator and turns him into the Great Emanci-Slayer. Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, a man who has a two pronged, dare I say fanged, approach to vampires this year with two films about bloodsucking as different from each other as fatal day and nurturing night. While his update of "Dark Shadows" plays the undead for laughs, with not much -- pardon the pun -- at stake, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" goes for the jugular and seems to be a hi-octane, tongue-in-cheek, fantasy horror film.
Kapow Comic Convention 2012 was fortunate to have one of its stars, the steely and inscrutable Rufus Sewell, on hand to present the unveiling of the new Red Band Trailer and a few other scenes to whet our appetite.
Audience turnout was quite high, the auditorium filled to capacity and a general feel of anticipation crackling in the air. It surprised me how excited people were for what I imagine will be a fairly traditional action adventure film suffused with vampiric lore, a genre that has been out of the coffin plenty of late.
The Red Band trailer upped the gore, being free of the usual censorship for all-ages trailers, but gave us the expected whiz bang assembly of slow motion bullet-time, CGI-heavy action beats. While none of it was bad, there is little to distinguish it from things we've already seen, especially in director Timur Bekmambetov's previous films including "Wanted" and "Night Watch." It did little to separate itself from the expected period piece trimmings made fresh again with super hero trappings. Think "Sherlock Holmes" or even "The Raven's" reinterpretation of Edgar Allen Poe and you're in the same ballpark.
The trailer was met with a great reaction from the crowd, and several scenes from the film followed. The first was an admittedly tense confrontation between our hero, Abraham Lincoln, and a vicious vampire. A fine moment, full of energy and a genuinely unnerving vibe, it was competently made but still felt a little old (black) hat, utilizing well worn horror tricks.
To give us a flavor of the rest of the film, the producers wisely chose to give us a more subdued and romantic scene between lead Benjamin Walker and his love interest, the exquisite Mary Elizabeth Winstead. It didn't break much new ground but established a nice chemistry between the leads, which might provide the film a much needed emotional core outside of its obvious high-concept marquee appeal. A voiceover cropped up to confirm Honest Abe's feelings which seemed unnecessary and a bit obtrusive, though the scene also gives insight into some vampire lore with Lincoln admitting he must bury vampires. As a fan of various bloodsucking franchises I always eagerly look out for elements like that to give us the rules of the world we will find ourselves in and to put a unique spin on each cinematic vampire iteration.
The 3D glasses did not work for a section of the crowd, which led to some minor grumbling near the front, but with hollers of delight elsewhere it seemed seemed to indicate most of the audience was still loving the teasers. Before Sewell left the screening to attend a separate Q&A session, CBR News managed to ask him a question regarding the fraternity of on screen vampire villainy he had now now joined, and how he felt in such company. Flashing a devilish grin, he said, "I've always been a big fan of Christopher Lee and what he brought to vampires on screen. And I knew that deep down, I had a good bad vampire in me." With a laugh he was gone.
Stay tuned to CBR News and Spinoff Online for more news on "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."