At least Lindsay kept up a theme for her short films, though, bringing us once again a short that she characterized as “looking like it’s a car ad, but it’s not”.
Well, um…she was correct on that count!
The feature presentation starts out, as most films do, with a young boy in Indiana. This young boy objects to his black friend being mistreated by some slavery-loving jerkface, gets in the middle of it, and basically forces his father to step in to salvage the situation. Unfortunately, the slave-owning jerkface is his father’s boss, so that interaction doesn’t really go over very well. Also – in case you never read an American history book – the slave-owning jerkface was secretly a vampire (as this film makes clear, it is well-known that the slave trade in the American south was driven by vampires who used the never-ending supply of oppressed and rightless people stolen from their homelands as foodstock). So in addition to firing the boy’s father, the vampire jerkface also breaks into the boy’s house and drains the lifeblood from his mother.
Well, Daddy knows enough not to let the boy (our titular hero Abraham Lincoln) try revenge against a vampire he can’t possibly vanquish, but once Abe is newly entered into manhood his father dies, allowing the orphan free rein to fail in exacting his vengeance. Luckily for Abe, he is saved by one Henry Sturges, a grumpy sort of fellow who mysteriously talks to himself about how this Abe fellow doesn’t have the proper motivation – you know, exactly the thing that a movie hero needs to find the proper motivation (which, of course, is to kill vampires for the sake of killing vampires, and not for revenge alone).
After finally and reluctantly agreeing to let Abe into the vampire-hunting club, Sturges supplies him with a silver-tipped axe (Abe’s preferred tool) and sets him on the road to slaughtering the undead. Abe gets pretty good at killing these fast and nimble bloodsuckers, and this is where the director decides to go maybe a bit overboard – as one very wise man once said, “Never go full Matrix.”
Of course, Abe’s not a super-clever guy, so he doesn’t really catch on to the fact that Sturges is this preternaturally fast and nimble creature who wears sunglasses a century before they were popular and never seems to partake in any of the vampire hunting itself. While any decent student of history would know that this is because Sturges is himself a vampire (one of those reluctant Louis de Pointe du Lac types) and that of course vampires can’t kill vampires (it’s in the code), Abe seems pretty slow to pick up on it.
But once Abe has finally been allowed to (successfully) exact revenge upon his former foe and Sturges seems ready to try to unleash his great vampire hunter against the biggest, baddest, leaderiest vampire of them all (named Adam, of course, because he’s “A-damn” terrible person) Abe does figure it out and decides to lay down his axe and go into politics instead. This, you would think, was a completely doomed move, since Abe really isn’t very clever and all. You’d think that perhaps he’d be able to get a city council seat in a small town, maybe work his way up to mayor…but…(SPOILER ALERT)
…in the most unbelievable plot point of the film he somehow becomes President of the ENTIRE United States of America. I mean, the film doesn’t even give his political career a nod at all. One minute he’s quitting vampire killing and standing on a soapbox belittling some Stephen Douglas guy and the next frame we’ve jumped like 25 years and he’s starting a war over slavery – which he KNOWS is the only thing keeping the vampires docile. So like, he’s going to have to break that axe out, right? Right.
Anyway, the vampires from the South are totally kicking the North’s ass, so the President draws on his vampire-hunting knowledge and designs silver weapons for his troops. Now he could have just, you know, quietly delivered these weapons to the Gettysburg battlefield and the while thing would have been simple, but instead he devises a so-clever-it-probably-can’t-work diversionary plan to get the vampire leaders to ambush a train they THOUGHT was carrying the silver weaponry when in fact it just carries Abe and some trusted cabinet members and one ass-kicking axe. President Lincoln somehow fails to die when the train goes over (and off) an immense, burning trestle bridge, the weapons which could easily have gotten to the soldiers safely had he just kept his mouth shut get to them anyway via something called the underground railroad (which is weird, because they never showed a subway, just a bunch of black people carrying the weapons in baskets and stuff), and the battle at Gettysburg turns the tide on the vampires.
Finally, a contrite President Lincoln apologizes to the entire theater for the film and heads off to Ford’s Theater to watch a play for himself. Presumably his review of Our American Cousin will open the sequel. The End.
Honestly, this is not even remotely the worst film to have been shown at movie night. That doesn’t mean it was good. It was clever, in its own small way here and there when it wasn’t busy wowing us with slo-mo axe fights and running on the backs of really bad CGI stampeding horses and other such nonsense, but in the end it’s really just another member of the quickly-tedious Sharknado movie style – a film that is intentionally tongue-in-cheek bad. The problem is that the audience is in on the joke. There’s a certain joy to watching (and lambasting) unintentionally bad films. It’s cruel and uncharitable but it’s also the reason that Mystery Science Theater 3000 managed 10 seasons. But somewhere along the line in the late naughties or so (I blame the SyFy channel) it became trendy to make films that looked like somebody with no experience pouring their heart into a really dumb idea but were in fact just a mockery thereof. Wink, wink, say the filmmakers, see how we cast a washed-up Tiffany and had her not-so-subtly recite lines from her decades-old radio hit? Once or twice – it’s funny. But let me read you a list of some of the upcoming films on SyFy:
Sharknado (literally on RIGHTNOWIKIDYOUNOT)
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
Malibu Shark Attack
Sharknado 2: The Second One
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
Dinocroc vs Supergator
So OK, this movie went for the put-it-in-the-theaters-instead-of-straight-to-cable angle, but intellectually it’s the same thing. And it’s played out at this point. Yours truly, the Final Arbiter of Taste, is here proposing a moratorium on the nudge-nudge-wink-wink intentionally bad films, be they of the undead, or of the lower aquatic vertebrate, or of the natural disaster variety for ten years. Stop making them. Then, in ten years, look deep into your soul and ask yourself whether this sort of film is what the world really needs again. If so, make one. If not, thank you.