The first part of this mess is here. SPOILERS for both the book & the movie (which I didn’t finish watching) (it was extremely terrible), and also I assume you know who all the characters are —
First Criticism: Henry Sturges is obviously in love with Abe. This is a completely reasonable reaction for Henry to have, based on the available evidence, but the book makes his deep, unspoken love the soul of the story — there is no other logical explanation for Henry’s blind & savage devotion to Lincoln, and Henry’s blind & savage devotion to Lincoln is the device which powers the plot — and then does absolutely nothing whatever with it. Disappoint.
Second Criticism: In this text, the carnivorous urges of vampires are clearly meant to stand in for the feudal inclinations of the Old World (by which I mean “Europe,” which is the Old World as far as Americans are concerned) — there is, for instance, a mass exodus of vampires to the newborn colonies during the era of the witch-hunt, & this represents the commencement of the American bloodbath with which Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter concerns itself. Also, the novel’s secondary protagonist, Henry Sturges, epitomizes the European gentleman flawlessly in both his irrational, aesthetic love of the arts and his compromised morality (although he is not specifically an aristocrat by birth; it is vampirism that makes a Man of him). Much of the story’s dramatic scenery is built upon Sturges’s choice to dedicate all of his considerable strength to Honest Abe’s homely faith in justice, rather than investing it in the easy, evil power of his fellow vampires. However, Grahame-Smith (the author; sorry) distances himself from any ultimate statement about human, historical, or supernatural evil by making sure that American slavery remains a wholly human enterprise, and in the end the novel itself contradicts its own high-concept premise. Why bother to append “Vampire Hunter” to “Abraham Lincoln” at all, if you aren’t planning to conflate the mawkish myth of romantic, effete vampires who can live forever off the blood of unexciting ordinary people, with the American slaveholders who nourished their own unnatural way of life upon the blood of slaves who had been achingly, systematically dehumanized over centuries — and then use Lincoln’s historical legacy to do violence to both of them? I assumed that Lincoln's vampires would have been characterized as both social and carnal predators who applied their Continental disdain for the peasantry to the incoming cargo of African-American slaves, making of their privileged exsanguinations a physical, action-movie metaphor. But that didn't happen, at all. It was as if Grahame-Smith wanted to avoid offending America's historical racists. The novel had no real thesis beyond, “There were scary vampires… and also: slavery! One of those things actually happened! But which one???” In the end, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter looked more like a satire than either a proper supernatural adventure or a twisted-history novel, and not even a very elegant one at that.
Third Criticism: Vampires are closely aligned with homosexuality — example: Edgar Allen Poe (who is himself attached to an annoying-but-invisible vampire companion), in one of his sad and pointless expository appearances, regales Abe with the story of Elizabeth Báthory, a murderous lesbian (perhaps) sadist and pedigreed vampire from Hungary — but then, except for a single grisly scene in which two vampires are depicted obscenely nursing blood from the breast of a black female slave, the entire question of sexuality re: vampirism (its oldest usage, certainly) is ignored. See also Criticism #1.
Fourth Criticism: MLK is turned into a vampire at the end of the book, for absolutely no visible fucking reason. It would’ve been quite painful, if the book had been of any consequence at all. Also I find the existence of, say, the Stormfront website, to defy even the hypothetical suggestion that Martin Luther King, Jr. still walks among us. Even for three seconds in a bad novel.
Fifth Criticism: The worst movie, with the worst acting, that I have ever seen in my entire life. One of the characters was Abe’s best black childhood friend, whom he clearly obviously had. The character was played by Anthony Mackie, which is nice, but he was the worst and the most pointless addition to an already overstuffed cast that you can possibly imagine. Very bad acting, also, I don’t know if I mentioned that. I shut the thing off when, during one of the interminable and badly-choreographed action sequences, one guy hit another guy in the head with a real, living horse (a CGI horse, in fact) (but you know what I mean).
On the other hand, the novel itself was most memorably characterized by the engaging and youthful voice of its third-party narrator, and near the end of the story Grahame-Smith began to prove himself a pretty excellent historical anecdotalist. Maybe next time he can just write a regular history book (for teenagers) and see how that turns out?
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Novel: D+
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Movie: F-