DOUBLE “CREATURE” REVIEW: Behind the ‘Dark Shadows’ of ‘Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer’

“Don’t let the Sun, fall down on me…”


As I proudly declared in my recent review of the humorous blood fest “Cabin in the Woods,” I would rather scrub my lactose intolerant neighbor’s toilets with (his) toothbrush, than willingly subject myself to a movie categorized with the oh-so pleasant word of horror.


This includes films of the blood-sucking variety, and no I’m not referring to flicks about government policy.


Considering that the sight of ‘real’ blood can cause the Outlaw’s stomach to do somersaults – assuming there is enough present to fill a large hot tub – I’ve never personally been one for ‘theater de vampires’.  Thus one of reasons (albeit not the main one) for not taking part in a Twilight-o-rama.


A vampire movie Geek Outlaw could really get behind! Let the dirty jokes begin…


Nonetheless, I do enjoy the good ol’ fashioned holiday of Halloween, along with the fact I do have a soft spot in my heart for some of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s theatrical work.  Taking it all into careful consideration, I decided to man up, step outside of my horror-free comfort zone and take on two of Burton’s latest to hit home video, Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer.


Being a vampires these days can make one a bit blu.


BEWARE: These will be short reviews; however, there may be a few minor plot spoilers.  Hopefully not anything blood-curdling though.



Dark Shadows

One big ‘colorful’ family.


The Johnny Depp vehicle was the first film I viewed, and of the two it is also the lightest in as far as being more of a comedy than anything else.  Dark Shadows is based off a 90’s soap opera that was remade from a 60’s soap opera.  So yes, in theory it’s a double-dip remake.



This go around, Depp plays Barnabus Collins, son of a successful fish-canning family and owner of an unfortunate name.  During his early years, Barnabus also manages to date and proceed to piss off the wrong girl by breaking her heart.  (Guys, when HAVEN’T we done that?)  Unfortunately, she’s not just the wrong girl, but she is a witch.




Played with ruthless sex appeal by Eva Green, Angelique Bouregard puts sorcery and cleavage to good use by killing Barnabus’s true love (at that time) while turning him into an immortal vampire before burying him dead-but-alive to suffer for eternity.


“You want to make me a vampire?… Where do I sign up?”


Unfortunately for Angelique, almost 200 years later, a construction company building a Mickey D’s unearths the very thirsty vampire.  Once Barnabus realized he is in 1972, comedy ensues.


While there are indeed some dark, creepy and slightly gory moments, Dark Shadows is for the most part, your basic fish-out-of-water story with a vampire and supernatural twist.


Depp, as usual was in rare form as the undead with a heart… of other people’s blood.  Much like the tone of his performance in the Pirates series, Depp is at his best when firing off dialogue at will.  The difference here being, he is playing more of the straight-man routine and the humor comes from the fact that the way he speaks is truly outdated in the 70’s and certain words already have double meanings.


Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed Dark Shadows despite the blood-based vampire scenes and the fact that the love story between Barnabus and Victoria (present) and Josette (past) was so rushed, it’s importance seemed lost.  The sets and eccentric characters were classic Burton, so if you enjoy his odd-ball stylings you won’t be disappointed.



“Do I have something in my fangs?”


For those who don’t mind a funny and entertaining straight-forward plot, every now and again (myself included), Dark Shadows is definitely a film where you can put your mind on cruise control for a few hours and not feel like you wasted any valuable time on… should you be immortal, or not.







Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer


This truly is one of those movies where the title is epitome of truth in advertising.  If you had a hankering to see a flick where the 16th President of the United States chops fang-toothed undead into multiple log cabin-shaped parts, then the title would not steer you wrong.



As the second of my vampire mini-marathon, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer was definitely the darker and more serious of the bunch.  Although please note when I say serious, I mean it ‘tries‘ to take itself more seriously.


ALVS is based on the very popular novel of the same name, a novel which I admittedly didn’t read before taking in the film it’s based on.  Per my NBFF in crime Hot Nerd Girl, when compared to the novel, the movie was about as enjoyable as listening to Roseanne Bar sing the National Anthem.


Ok, ok… we know you didn’t like the movie Hot Nerd Girl… now slowly put the axe down.


Having not read the book, my perspective was slightly different in that my expectations were probably less than that of an earth worm.  Even with my already low standards lowered, admittedly my final verdict was closer to HNG’s thoughts than not.  (On a related note, HNG is giving away signed photos from her “Babe” Lincoln Vamp Slayer shoot HERE!)


If I could read at higher than a 3rd grade level, I’d read this in a heartbeat.


There’s not much to the story of ALVS since it basically takes a story we all (should) know from history and attempts to interweave the existence of blood-sucking beasts (not lawyers, they actually existed back then) into the historical fabric of our country around the time of the Civil War.


“Who stole my V-8?”


Believe it or not, the Outlaw does enjoy history and has an equally adept interest in politics.  That doesn’t mean I’m accepting challenges for debate since I’m still losing debates to myself.  It was those moments, which seemed to most closely follow the actual facts of past events, where I was most riveted by the movie.


Four quarts of blood and seven vampires ago…


Unfortunately, this Tim Burton production (what’s his deal with vampires anyway?), can’t seem to decide what it wants to be – a documentary, action flick, sci-fi fantasy, or serious drama.  It was almost like they filmed four different mini-movies and mashed them together.  The acting was bearable at best, and while I just can’t put my finger on it, Benjamin Walker just didn’t come across as one would imagine honest Abe might have during that era.


The resemblance is uncanny… and that’s about it. (Not that I knew the guy personally.)


Even the effects were hit and miss.  The concept for the horse chase was awesome, but ended up looking more like a video game from my old Sega Genesis than a proper movie scene.


Unfortunately for the undead, horse shot-put never made the 1884 Olympics.


To its credit, despite not liking ALVS in general, I didn’t find it to be a complete waste of time.  The story in general was intriguing enough to sit through to the end, and there were definitely some moments of tension along with some downright freaky scenes with the vampires themselves.  Even the fight scenes were stylistic and fun to watch.


Before there was Neo, there was Abe.


The real question is, would I recommend this film? Well fellow Outlaws, I cannot tell a lie… oh wait, wrong president.  My final score of two spurs may seem a bit harsh, but I also factored in that I’m not a huge fan of vampire movies in general.  So I do admit it is slightly bias… so bite me (just not in the neck).


Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Abe’s better and hotter half, Mary Todd. Luckily they had the same first names.


Bottom-line, if you enjoy the thought of the bearded-dude on our penny and five dollar-bill chopping the heads off killer vampires, than there are definitely worse things you could do with your time.  If not, there is always the Twilight series.  On second thought…






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *