Four score and severed heads ago . . . I have received and screened a pre-release copy of The Asylum Studios latest b-movie, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, which will be available to the general public on Tuesday, May 29th. First off, thank you, Asylum. Second off, Abe vs. Zombies may well be the Asylum’s most entertaining movie to date.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is, of course, the mockbuster answer to the forthcoming, big budget, Tim Burton produced, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Abe vs. Zombies is out first, and as far as camp fun, the bar is set very, very high.
The premise is that our nation’s 16th arguably greatest (apologies to Millard Fillmore) President, Abraham Lincoln, had a bad experience with a zombie outbreak as a youth. In the aftermath of the battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln (Bill Oberst Jr.) hears of a new outbreak of the zombie plague in a remote fort. Realizing that the Civil War will be a moot point should both North and South are overtaken by the walking dead, Abe leads a small, impeccably overdressed team to the fort to curb the zombie menace.
Sure enough, Abe & team encounter zombies by the bushel full, as well as Confederate soldiers and various other survivors including an old flame of Abe’s. (What’s a zombie movie without some romantic tension?) When things take a turn for the worse, Abe, his men, and his human, Confederate foes are trapped in the fort surrounded by zombies. It’s kind of an undead Alamo movie, with Abraham Lincoln. Which gives me an idea . . ..
The film interweaves plenty of real life characters into the fictitious mix. In the film you see Stonewall Jackson, a young Theodore Roosevelt, Pat Garrett, and perhaps even a certain fellow named John Wilkes Booth. One of the zombie concepts in the film are that when zombies aren’t feeding, they’re in a standing/sleeping state, allowing characters to sneak around them so long as no loud noises cause them to stir. At one point as they’re about to go amongst the zombies, Abraham Lincoln hands young Teddy Roosevelt a weapon, stating, “Walk softly and carry this big stick.”
Analyzing the historical facts logically is a mistake. For example, Teddy Roosevelt was born October 27, 1858. If the film takes place in the wake of Gettysburg (July 1863), Teddy would not even by five years old. The kid who plays Teddy (Canon Kuipers) is about 11-12, I’d say. Pat Garrett — in real life, the lawman who killed Billy the Kid — appears as a young 20-something man played by Christopher Marrone, though in real life Garrett would be 12 years old at the time of the film.
A word on Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies star Bill Oberst Jr. When I heard about the project, I speculated which d-list star would be in the role of Abe. I speculated on Asylum regulars like Lorenzo Lamas, who bring camp, I-know-I’m-doing-a-bad-movie gusto to their b-movie outings. Oberst is largely unknown, a hard working character actor who has yet to get a big break in a mainstream role. But casting Bill Oberst Jr. in the title role is the smartest decision the Asylum could possibly have made.
I mean this when I say, Oberst is a genuine, bona fide, great Abraham Lincoln. He brings depth, decency, conviction, and certifiable gravitas to Abraham Lincoln. He plays the role straight in this twisted little b-movie, which is veeeeeeeeeery risky. There’s no *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* I know this flick stinks in Bill Oberst Jr.’s performance. This guy is good. Really, REALLY good. As in, I hope he gets a chance to get a decent part in a movie with a good budget.
As always with b-movies in general and Asylum films specifically, the praise I lavish (when I do) is always with an asterisk: These low-budget, high concept films are an acquired taste. As good as Oberst Jr. is, this is still a campy b-flick with oodles of low-budget decapitations (before one zombie head chomp, Abe declares, “Emancipate this!”).
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies — take Tuesday off work and get this movie!!
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