This fine country of ours has a long and proud history of badassery. Our origin story is bad ass, our military is bad ass, our sports teams are bad ass… even our food is bad ass.
And over the years, we’ve elected a our share of particularly tough customers to be our Bad Ass in Chief. In fact, if there’s any U.S. President I can think of that embodies the essence of badassery, it’s Theodore Roosevent.
Who’s this movie about again?
I’m going to give you the same SPOILER ALERT that one of the Netflix reviewers gave: Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is not historically accurate.
After a cold open where a young Abraham has to dispatch his infected mother with the family scythe, we jump ahead to 1863 with now-President Lincoln struggling to write his Gettysberg Address. I can only hope there will be some incident even more dramatic than the U.S. Civil War that inspires Mr. Lincoln to rhapsodize about our nation’s ability to endure!
Word comes in that Lincoln’s secret mission to capture “Big Shanty” went pear-shaped, with only one survivor making it back. Needless to say, he’s looking a bit undead-y.
Advisers think it’s due to a new Confederate weapon, but our man Lincoln knows better. Determined to stamp out the infection before it spreads outside of the fort, Lincoln assembles a crack team — men to go into a Secret Service, if you will — to accompany him to Big Shanty. The fate of the nation is at stake, after all.
Oh, and at this point, we learn that Lincoln has made a special collapsible scythe for just such an occasion. Lincoln’s collapsible scythe isn’t just bad ass — it just might be the greatest thing The Asylum has ever come up with. I’ll take that over the big budget “axe-fu” any day.
Team Lincoln soon arrives at Big Shanty, and for reasons I cannot comprehend, Mr. Lincoln neglects to let his men in on the whole zombie thing. As a result, half of the Secret Service is chomped up in the initial engagement. Whoops.
At least that ties into something I found refreshing about this movie: For the first time in a very long time, we’re getting a story where the concept of zombies aren’t already firmly ensconced into the culture. For the most part, these characters have absolutely no idea of what they’re dealing with, and their slow learning curve is kind of… adorable? That’s not the word I’m looking for, but you get the gist.
Along the way, we get lots of The Asylum’s famous scenes of indistinguishable characters standing around in the dark, talking. Stonewall Jackson is on-hand (yes, that one), but he’s being an asshat and spends most of the film in the brig for refusing to help the President.
There’s also a bizarre subplot where Team Lincoln takes temporary refuge in a brothel — all the best military forts have those, right? — run by an old flame of Abe’s (!) and housing a young orphan named Theodore Roosevelt (!!). I applaud the filmmaker’s transparent attempt to get some cheesecake into the film, but… the hell?
Yes, believe it or not, a film titled Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies has more than a few WTF moments. Like Lincoln occasionally giving young Teddy some famously Rooseveltian advice.
Or when Abe Lincoln quips “Emancipate this!“ while beheading a zombie.
Or like when one of the Secret Service agents, an actor by trade going by the name “Mr. Wilkenson,” grows frustrated with Lincoln’s willingness to seemingly slaughter “sick” Americans and decides the President must die (don’t think too hard about this one). The filmmakers even rip a moment straight out of Hamlet, cuz if you’re going to make your living riding the coattails of others, you might as well aim high.
So yes, this is very much a movie by The Asylum. But it’s a pretty entertaining one, and Bill Oberst Jr.’s portrayal of Abe Lincoln is top shelf. I’d say that Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does more good than harm.