(NOT SO)SILLY SOAPBOX: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Question:

What do penguins and vampire-hunting presidents have in common?

Answer:

Really bad film adaptations.

oOoOoOoOo

Last weekend a friend and I caught Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter before it went out of theaters for good.  I was pumped.  Having just finished the book (and loving it – with the exception of a couple nit-picky items), I was really looking forward to it.

Couple disclaimers here:  (1)  I know that no movie is going to be exactly like its book.  (2)  I don’t write screenplays, so there’s a better-than-good chance that my opinions here are junk, through and through.

That being said,

WHAT THE HELL, SETH GRAHAME-SMITH?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is one fabulous book.  You twisted history and myth in a way that made me believe (or at least want to believe) that Honest Abe’s life was a little less honest – though no less noble – and a whole lot more adventuresome than our history books tell us.  Your book had depth – it was interesting, scary, humorous, heart-breaking.  I cried when Willy died.  I actually cried.  And at the end I was so mad at Henry I couldn’t see straight (I don’t know if that was your intention, but there you have it).  I finished the book and told the Hubster I have to go see the movie.

I managed to do just that with little time to spare.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it was the last showing of AL:VH in Wichita.  As we sat through the movie I kept thinking to myself (and whispering loudly to my friend) This is terrible.  Oh my goodness, I bet Mr. Grahame-Smith hated what they did to his book.  My heart hurt for you and your maimed story.  The way Henry was no longer the Henry I came to know in your pages, but rather some Henry with no backbone or purpose.  Speed’s betrayal was infuriating and pointless.  I think I actually yelled at the screen (thank goodness my friend and I were the only two there) NO! NO! That’s not RIGHT! when Mary begs Abe and Henry to bring Willy back from the dead.  Where was the Union?  Where was Abe’s rascally friends who hunted with him?  Where was the Trinity?

When your name came up in the credits for the screenplay, I was shocked.  For somebody to have so completely strayed from their original story…not just stray, but downright tear to shreds to the point that it’s no longer recognizable…It was just unbelievable.  It made me sad.  Obviously, I don’t know the circumstances that made you do it – maybe you hated doing it as much as I hated watching it.  I just know the movie I saw didn’t even pretend to do your book justice.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, I’m not going to say don’t bother.  *shrug*  There was action, some neat fight scenes, scary non-sparkly vampires.  Even with a ridonky chase scene amongst a horse stampede that completely denies the laws of physics (ex: Vampire hurls horse at Abe.  Abe catches it, flips it over, and mounts it), and like so much of the movie, ISN’T EVEN IN THE BOOK, the action is pretty fun.  The guy who plays Abe does a great job – even though toward the end he’s put in weird make-up that kind-of makes him look like an old Liam Neeson.  I’m not sure it’s worth the price of a theater ticket, but perhaps it’s worth a rental.

For those of you who haven’t read the book, 

DO.

It is so, so good.  Even though I didn’t love the ending, and felt there were a couple loose strings in the beginning of the story that could have been tied up, it was a really fun read.  I totally recommend it.

I’m stepping off the soapbox now; it’s your turn, dear reader!  Did any of you read/see AL:VH?  Did you love it?  Hate it?  What are some other film adaptations that you love or love to hate?

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12 thoughts on “(NOT SO)SILLY SOAPBOX: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

  1. amyshojai says:

    Hadn’t read the book but now I want to. I hate it when that happens to films. And I wonder if the author got a “screenplay credit” simply for being the original author? It’s rare for them to have any real control over the resulting screenplay.

  2. Liz says:

    Thanks for the advice, Myndi! I’ll check out the book.
    Have you ever seen the film adaptation of Last of the Mohicans, with Daniel Day-Lewis? You would love it…and it’s streaming on Netflix. Very beautiful film.

  3. Natalie Hartford says:

    I haven’t read the book or saw the movie. But I definitely want to read the book now. Not so sure of the movie. Was never sure it was my kind of thing. Perhaps a rental if there was nothing else available. LOL! GREAT review Myndi!

  4. Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2) says:

    I’m going to shock some people with my “bad adaptation” choice, but my husband and I almost walked out of The Bourne Identity. I know movies have to tell a story differently than a book, but this book is one of our favorites, especially because of the ending. I expected it to be decent because Robert Ludlum collaborated on the screenplay.

    It opened the same as the book, basically, but other than some particular scenes, it was a whole different story. *SPOILER ALERT* (It’s been out for a long time, but just in case…) Jason has amnesia and is horrified that everything pointed to him being an assassin. In the book, it turns out that he’s been very deep undercover and everything was a setup from someone inside the spy company, and it has a poignant, hopeful ending where he’s recovering and finally remembered his name. But in the movie, he actually IS the assassin! It destroyed the whole premise.

    I can get past the actors being too young, I can understand plot points changing or being left out because the medium and time limitations are different, but you can’t change the basis for the story, for crying out loud! It’s a great action flick if you haven’t read the book, but otherwise you have to disassociate it completely from the book to be able to enjoy it.

    And it turned out that while Robert Ludlum may have worked on it at the beginning, he was very ill (on his deathbed, I think) and really wasn’t involved as was implied.

    • Myndi Shafer...one stray sock away from insanity. says:

      This is so interesting! I started reading the Bourne books a few months ago when I was so sick, and couldn’t get into them…now I might need to try again. I’m with you – some plot changes are understandable (sometimes), and Hollywood loves its beautiful people, but when you change the genetic structure of the story, it becomes difficult to remain invested as a movie-goer who’s read the book. ESPECIALLY if it alters the story in a way that doesn’t make sense in terms of movie-story telling. I really felt (in my humble totally non-professional opinion) they could have saved the book’s story line and come out with a much better movie. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your book/movie!!

  5. Rachel Funk Heller says:

    Hi Mynster! I have not seen the book or read the movie…(tee-hee) and having worked in television for many years, I often give book adaptations a lot of lee-way, considering 1) how hard it is to get your book sold in the first place, 2) how expensive, complicated, and bizarre the whole film-making process is, and 3) film is really a director’s medium, not the writer’s. Once you sell your book to ANYONE, you have to realize that it is no longer your baby and enjoy the money. Hey, when do I get to read the next installment of “Shrilugh”?? (apoligies as I can never remember how to spell it correctly). xoxoxoxox

  6. melissaqueen says:

    I just finished reading this book and I absolutely LOVED it! I cried for Willy as well! Been dying to see the movie though, hopefully I can find some sort of entertainment in it lol.

  7. livinginfairyland says:

    Saw the trailer and thought, nope. Thing is, it didn’t seem like it was aimed at the comedy market. It looked like it was trying to be serious. Which is odd. But..maybe I should read the book.

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