On June 22, the nation will find out that Abraham Lincoln actually moonlighted — literally — as a vampire hunter. The appropriately titled “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” made its convention debut at WonderCon on Saturday and star Benjamin Walker, director Timur Bekmambetov and writer Seth Grahame-Smith took to the Anaheim Convention Center stage to show some new footage from the movie.
Following the panel, the trio spoke with some journalists at a press conference promoting the film. IFC was lucky enough to join in the conversation and talk about the conversion of the story from book to screen, the tone of the movie and just how scary these vampires are actually going to be.
Elements of Seth Grahame-Smith’s book are still in the film
“We incorporate voiceover through Lincoln’s journal entries and letters to other people very sparingly,” Grahame-Smith said. “You don’t want to saturate people with voiceover, but at the same time we do want to use that device. And we do use the device of Lincoln sort of looking back at some of these events through his journal entries.”
The joke is in the title, and that’s where it ends
The premise is an absurd premise, and because it is so absurd, it’s very easy to fall into doing it as a lark and make a joke of the whole thing, but what we chose to do and what I chose to do in the book is to take an absurd premise and take it very seriously and do it very straightforward. So I think that what you’ll see in the tone of the movie is a very serious, muscular straight-forward presentation of a superhero origin story, in a way,” Grahame-Smith said. “We never sort of wink at the audience and say, ‘Ha ha, we know how funny this is.'”
This could change a generation’s perception of Abraham Lincoln
When it was noted that this could be a younger generation’s first exposure to Lincoln,” Walker quipped, “They should take notes. You could write a high school paper. If you know nothing about Lincoln, you’re going to learn a lot about Lincoln by watching this.”
Bekmambetov added, “I’m sure in a year if you will ask kids on the street who was Abraham Lincoln, all around the world they will tell you, ‘Vampire Hunter.'”
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” was always going to be dark and scary
Grahame Smith answered, “It’s not like you’re a sniper killing them from a thousand yards out. You’re getting right up there in their face and getting their blood on you –”
“We’re not going to tickle them to death,” added Walker. “It was also a very difficult, dark time in America. If you ground it in reality and are really asking practical questions, that’s what you come up with.”
“And Lincoln’s real life story is a dark story,” Grahame-Smith continued. “If you go and look at the fact that he was a great storyteller, had a great sense of humor, but he was consumed by melancholy throughout his entire life, and I don’t blame him, because everyone around him died. Every couple of years, someone he loved died.”
Abraham Lincoln would have used an axe to hunt vampire
“Lincoln picked the axe for us. He was an actual woodsman in his life. It was famous,” Grahame-Smith explained. “When he ran for office, he was called ‘The Railsplitter Candidate’ because he could famously take a log and chop it up into a bunch of planks with just his axe faster than most men could. Even into his old age, he was exceptionally strong. He grew up in the frontier and chopping down trees, so that’s a very real part of his life.”