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24 June 2012

Can Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter make the undead funny again?

Twilight can't be the last word on vampires.

By Caroline Crampton

Is anything ever finished any more? Do big-money producer types ever say to each other “You know what, I think the time travel/robot/alien* (*delete as applicable) thing is just about over now. Shall we go and find our next cash-cow to milk dry?”

All the evidence suggests that this isn’t the case. Just this week, the studio behind the Twilight films was forced to deny that a “reboot” was planned once the fifth and final film is released this autumn.

(If you read my colleague Alex Hern’s post about the seriously creepy “werewolf loves baby” storyline in the latest installment, you will understand why I now pause to allow for readers to shudder extensively.)

There’s nothing wrong with prequels, sequels and spin-offs per se. But the kind of conservatism that even considers pouring money into tired rehashes of already-lucrative series rather than fresh, original ideas, is worrying. Of course investors want guaranteed returns, but eventually cinemagoers stop forking out to see the same thing presented a very slightly different way. This is exactly why a “rebooted” Twilight franchise is such a terrible idea.

This is also why, when I first heard about it, I was cautiously optimistic about the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which opened in the UK this weekend. Scripted by the same guy who brought us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this is supposed to be a big screen mash-up that incorporates the current fascination with all things sexy and undead, but also has a bit of a plot and even something of a moral dimension (America’s 16th president wants to destroy slavery AND stake succubi).

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The trailer is oh-so-promising:

Mark Kermode wasn’t overly impressed, but I still have high hopes for it.

Maybe this is the film that can put the humour back into our vampires. Long before there were undead sexy teens gazing longingly at each other, we had things like Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It and some of the finer moments of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As well as being terrifying, vampires are funny. We can’t let Twilight take that away from us.