Featuring: Bill “Krampus the Christmas Devil” Oberst Jr. , Jason “Gut” Vail , Baby “Just Go 4 It” Norman
Director: Richard “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” Schenkman
Writers: Karl “Karl’s In a Coma” Hirsch , J. Lauren Proctor , Richard “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” Schenkman
“A man divided against himself cannot stand.”
“Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time.” We all remember that brilliant line from Tommy Boy, delivered by the late and (sometimes) great Chris Farley. Well, if The Asylum were ever in the market for a fitting motto, there it is. Change the “me” to “us”, the “I”s to “we”s, and you’ve got a pretty apt description of their mission statement. If anybody reading this happens to work at the Sticky’s All-You-Can-Eat Pizza Hole and Waste Management Facility where the Asylum big wigs hold their board meetings, float that out there like a morning turd in the toilet bowl. I promise that at least one of them will offer you a job in their marketing division!
When I announced to my friends that I’d be reviewing today’s guaranteed dump (originally intended to be reviews for President’s Day until, well, I didn’t), everyone who knew what I was talking about replied that they’d turned it off at varying points in the running time. Not only did NO ONE make it to the end credits (fun bit of irony for a horror movie), but the general consensus of tolerance levels were in the 20-30 minute range. Was there a particular “ground zero” moment that drove these viewers in droves to hit the Stop button and walk away, or was it a steady poisoning of their systems and 20-30 minutes of such contamination was the point of saturation? This isn’t just a movie review now…this is science!
This bucket of bowel movements is Asylum’s rip-off of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Rather than being based on a book though, ALvZ is based on a crumpled napkin an Asylum writer found sitting in the alley behind his basement apartment. Encrusted with the remnants of cheap margaritas and even cheaper tacos, it no doubt fell out of the dumpster belonging to the Tex-Mex restaurant under which he lived. Amidst the multi-colored stains, some scribblings that may or may not have stated “steal both” baffled the alleged scribe, until he looked to his coffee table. Seeing a copy of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” he’d borrowed from a friend sitting next to a DVD of Curse of the Cannibal Confederates given to him by his parents as a high school graduation present, a new Asylum feature was born. In a bit of personal experimentation, rather than have a shred of hope that ALvZ is going to be anything but the standard issue Asylum carnival of stupid, I went into this viewing with my expectations squarely in the john. Then I remembered that, again, this is a fucking Asylum movie, so I took my expectations out of the nice porcelain pot they were bobbing in, and instead tossed them into the infamous crapper from the pub in Trainspotting. Perfect. Now, as Dr. Clayton Forrester would say, let the experiment…BEGIN!
Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, united the states, taught himself to read with a shovel (or something), and wrestled bears…though as more is uncovered about the secret life of our 16th president, those “bears” may be more in line with the gay community’s definition than Wild America’s. One of the things not covered in his illustrious upbringing is the apparent 1818 boyhood trauma of his mother’s transformation…into a zombie(!)…after she was attacked by them in the forest(!)…because…reasons!? Whatever brought this about, Abe’s dad couldn’t muster the gumption to kill his zombie wife, so he put a bullet in his own brain instead (great parenting, asshole, leaving your kids alone with a ghoul for a mom), tasking young Abe with the duty of decapitating dear mother Nancy himself. He did so with a scythe, which just supports my lifelong plan to live near farm country, providing me plenty of tool sheds and shotguns to pilfer when the zombiegeddon finally gets its lazy ass in gear.
We jump ahead to the summer of 1863. The year James Plimpton patented the four-wheeled roller skate, the first underground train opened in London, and Thomas Crapper invents the one-piece pedestal flushing toilet. Spoiler alert: that last one is an incredibly appropriate piece of info for what’s about to happen here. Meanwhile, The American Civil War rages on as Southerners fight for the right to continue claiming black people as tax-exempt property. Abe’s all grown up and Presidential, in charge of keeping the nation in one piece. He’s also become Bill Oberst, who’s locked in perpetual Lloyd Bridges mode for the extent of the movie. An important lynchpin to winning the war of gray vs. blue is capturing and maintaining the strategic point of Fort Polaski and controlling the Mississippi River. But, after sending a regiment to take Polaski under the banner of “Operation Big Shanty”, only one soldier returned alive…and his skin’s looking grayer than Robert E. Lee’s Sunday best. No sooner does he report to President Lincoln that Big Shanty went FUBAR due to a contingency of flesh eating maniacs residing in the fort, he then turns into one of the man munching monsters himself. Having had experience with the not-so-demised before (Mommy Mommy, choppy choppy), Lincoln fends off the zombie until a lackey can retrieve his trusty folding scythe from his carriage…that he just happens to carry with him…despite having never seen another zombie in the 45 years since relieving his mother’s use for bonnets…okay.
The president’s new “secret service” team is assembled to clear out and reclaim Polaski to both swing the Civil War in the Union’s favor and wipe out the living dead scourge before it can spread like so much shit water from the clogged toilet in a Taco Bell bathroom. They really need to put limits on the amount of food one customer can order. Unless they’re getting it “to go”, in which case they can put their own crapper in jeopardy. Let’s just say I’ve heard horror stories and will never be able to look at a Taco Bell Party Pack again without igniting my gag reflex. Blart. Anyway, when the Major assigned to lead the group is killed by the ghoul, Abe appoints himself the new leader of the task force, citing his “prior experience” with the disease as his leading asset…because just telling a new leader that the disease is spread through bites, and that the only way to kill them is decapitation or burning them would waste valuable time…and because I guess he figured Andrew Johnson was gonna replace him eventually anyway!
Proving that he practiced what he preached, Lincoln’s Suicide Squad (or “Task Force X” if you’re nerd enough) includes one black agent, who could only be given a position on a top secret operation due to the potential political controversy if the public knew their government employed a black man. Hence the term “black op” was born, and the rest is made-up history that you school-aged readers probably shouldn’t reference for any history reports. Also, the black dude’s there so he can bring the term “zombie” into the mix later on, given the term’s Haitian origin, and lay out the irony of enslaved people owning slaves themselves, albeit dead ones. The Abe Brigade also includes an interesting member that eventually leads to one of the solitary good kernels of corn in this shit log of a crap-ass cash-in effort, so I won’t spoil who it is. All I’ll say is that it adds an interesting re-visioning to the President’s ill-fated future as an unsuccessful theater critic. If you want to find out the mystery prize in this box of Cocoa Poops though, you’ll have to earn it yourself and bury your hands in up to the elbows. Whether it’s worth the challenge to your tolerance levels will vary from person to person, but let me remind you–-I’m the only person I know who actually saw this cinematic skid mark through to its dingle-berry bedazzled end.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself here, when I’d much rather be getting myself head. Wakka wakka! Lincoln leads his logs (not an actual joke, just a needless pun) to Polaski, and with the exception of a few fodder agents who end up as bite victims, the good guys do well at clearing out the shuffling maggot manufactories, mostly thanks to Mr. Lincoln and his newly revealed deadly arts of leap-‘n’-slash-fu. I really need to commission Osiris for one of those short-arm folding blade scythes. It’d shave much needed hours off of my reaping schedule and leave me with a lot more time to review… Asylum… movies… fuuuuuuuuuuck. Never mind. Securing the fort (which was mostly secure already, until Lincoln’s men attracted zombies into the place with their gunfire), the Secret Service finds a small group of Rebels holed up in the basement, led by famed southern military strategist General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Not to be confused with county music man Stonewall Jackson, who sang “Waterloo” and “BJ the DJ” (not about what its title implies), though that was the musicians real name and he did claim to be a descendant of the original. Everyone immediately thinks I’m related to David Bowie despite how we spell and pronounce our last names differently. I do like to sometimes claim that Tandy Bowen (Dagger of “Cloak & Dagger”) is my cousin though, despite the fact that she’s a completely fictional character… plus I’d feel really gross for doing the knuckle shuffle to someone who’s actually my cousin… and don’t bring up the irony of how the Egyptian mythological pantheon was full of incest anyway. That was a different time, and I’m not about to take the “racist grandparents” excuse and chalk it up to being “from a different time”. Cork it.
Stonewall (and his HUGE, super fake, glued-on beard) surrenders himself and his remaining men to Lincoln’s Logs (just let me have this!), but refuses to agree with the president that the soldiers and civilians he just got done beheading were necessary casualties. Stoney PlayStation 4 (okay, that one was just to boost search engine hits, I’ll cop) is convinced that the recently diseased/deceased are just in need of medical treatment, and Honest Abe’s just a murder happy maniac looking to take out his “reverse racism” hate on the slavery lovin’ southerners. This from a time period where a shot-off toe resulted in a full leg amputation for fear of the spread of gangrene, yet this knob thinks that a ravenous full-body cannibal infection can somehow be fixed with snake oil and coal water. Must be all that inbreeding. Sorry to offend any southern readers, but stop breeding with your kin. If we deities can help ourselves, so can you, damn it. You just have to want to. If nothing else, do it for the sideshow of tormented offspring you would’ve conceived that would one day grow up to turn on you and burn you all alive in your trailer to wipe the blight of your broken genetic legacy from the face of the Earth. Long-term investments, Cletus.
Fun fact: the name Cletus/Cleatus is of Greek origins, and means “illustrious”. Meanwhile, the modernized definition would be “slack jawed yokel” or “football playing robot that murdered the Burger King”.
Locking the uncooperative grays up, the blues secure the fort in typical zombie movie DIY style. In the basement they find and are overrun by a gaggle of hungry corpses. While escaping into an already boarded up section of the fort, they find another small group of survivors. Shit, this has to be one of the biggest speaking casts for an Asylum movie EVER…which would explain why they all act about as well as a real movie’s background extras. Anyway, this new group is led, conveniently enough, by Abe’s prostitute ex-girlfriend Mary Owens (played by the unfortunately named Baby Norman), and includes a young boy from New York who was separated from his family and ended up there during the outbreak. I won’t spoil who the boy is, but let’s just say that Abe encourages him to avoid attracting the zombies by speaking in a soft tone, and defend himself from them with the use of a sizable length of timber. And yes, if you have a basic knowledge of American political history (or you too watched that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he ran for office opposite Yosemite Sam), your brain probably just vomited acid all over itself in a desperate bid for oblivion too.
Okay, so we’ve got the zombie movie staples all in play – a group of survivors with conflicting viewpoints, both moral and political, some of whom share a rocky personal past, all of which are trapped together in a confined space while a seemingly endless mob of extras in halfway decent Halloween costumes shamble around outside, waiting to pick off the slow, impatient, and unlucky over the next 45 minutes or so. It’s like some big metaphor for the war itself, or humanity itself, or the 1600 or so living dead movies that came before it themselves. Will Abe be able to bring these opposing factions of uninfected together before their so-called “moralities” lead them all to losing their own heads, figuratively at first, then literally afterward? Will you care enough to find out? If nothing else, I suggest firing it up on Netflix and fast-forwarding to the last 10 minutes. That way you can get the whimsical ending and avoid all of the stupid shit the self-proclaimed “writers” culled from a junior high American History textbook to denigrate into goofy characters and bastardized action movie one-liners.
Being an Asylum secretion, watching ALvZ is like juggling a half-dozen water balloons full of diarrhea: you know you’re gonna get shit all over you, and the best you can hope for is that none of it’s infected with anything more dangerous than a level 6 gross-out contamination, and that you lose nothing more than a ruined outfit and a bit of self-esteem. The shit balloon bursts all over us with computer generated blood, dismemberment, explosions, and gun flashes (because squibs and blanks aren’t “cost effective”). We also get splattered with a bleached out visual filter to either push the impression that the movie takes place in olden times, or just helps cover up the sloppy CG gore. (Not to be confused with AD Gore, proprietor of satans-sideshow.com, who supplied much of my wardrobe in high school.) Also running down our faces and pooling in our pockets are Asylum’s staples: bad acting (no surprise), bad script (also no surprise), bad audio (I had to watch it with subtitles on so I wouldn’t have to wear out the volume buttons on my remote), bad lighting (to further cover up the bad CG effects), and bad dance-fight choreography of Lincoln jumping around like the world’s oldest action hero (minus Schwarzenegger and Stallone, who’re both older than the secret sex dungeon under the Appomattox courthouse). It’s all silly. Not a fun silly, but a hemorrhoid silly…because it’s uncomfortable… and itchy…and I don’t fucking know! You try writing something even remotely witty while some F-grade movie hacks’ weekend of work farts in your face!
Aside from the ending, the only thing that saves this movie from total damnation in Ammut’s cornhole is Oberst’s oddly decent portrayal of Lincoln. Sure, the goofy scythe-fu stuff can cause aneurisms if viewed for too long without proper protection, and the painful out-of-context historical quotes turned one-liners could lacerate kidneys, and if you close your eyes you’d swear Admiral Benson was about to tell you about how he lost his eyes to a bazooka round at Little Big Horn (or was it Okinawa?), but when Oberst actually gets to make inspirational speeches like the Great Emancipator was known for, he’s pretty damn effective. Not exactly Bill Pullman’s speech from Independence Day, or Raymond Burr’s ending soliloquy from Godzilla 1985, but if Billy O can bring even a sliver of credence to a shit cauldron like Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, then the dude deserves his Daytime Emmy Award…though that’s like winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics, so don’t put too much credence in my use of the word “credence”.
By the way, if the amount of fecal and/or toilet allusions in this review seem like a bit much to you, you should really stop expecting better of me. When dealing with an Asylum production, a reviewer becomes the sewage treatment plant worker of the movie criticism field – knee deep in waste matter for the length of the effort. It’s a minor miracle if we can keep from killing ourselves after the first few times on the job, let alone just swearing off them for life. Reviewers of Asylum movies are like Ed Norton (the character, not the actor), except our best friends aren’t spousal abusers (hopefully) and we lack the televised medium to benefit from slapstickery and goofy voices, so we’re stuck relying on whatever creative writing we can muster. Forgive me if the majority of creative metaphors I can come up with are shit related, but once you’ve got an Asylum feature’s stench saturating your every pore and follicle, it’s hard to think of much else. I need a heavy dose of anti-venom (viewings of Re-Animator or Return of the Living Dead usually do the trick) just to keep me out of a coma.
That said (with about 50 more words than needed), it’s all the more upsetting that our next episode will be ANOTHER Asylum feature! Has my cinemasochism reached new, dangerous heights from which no sane man or man-dog deity can possibly return unscathed?! Gird your loins and girdle your lions (if you have any) and tune in for what’s bound to be another 5 pages of furious/flaccid shit slinging! Same Anubis time, same Anubis channel! *ONOMATOPOEIA!*
Moral of the Story: The Confederate flag is no longer the most offensive hold over from the American Civil War.
I see the guy responsible for the title graphics hasn’t figured how “stroke” or “highlight” works on text layers. At least make the blood a lighter tone than the damn words!
Kids, if your father looks like this every time he tries to shave, do NOT let him teach you how when you hit puberty.
You know The Asylum’s hit big money time when they can afford enough Miller High Life to pay that many Civil War reenactment actors.
“You might wanna pull it back a little on the buttons, soldier. You’re not Steve Harvey.”
“I’m sorry Mr. President. I understand that you want to bring an end to this war, but I’m Santa Claus! I can’t withhold presents from the good Confederate children on Christmas just because you think it will stop the bloodshed!”
“Hey Jackson, what do you call a thousand coloreds at the bottom of the ocean?”
“If you finish that statement, I will kill you now and seduce your wife at your funeral.”
“… Sorry. I didn’t know you were so ‘politically correct’.”
Lincoln’s got his “serious business” stovepipe on. If this were a Robert Rodriguez movie, that thing would be full of pistols and dynamite.
Dear Isis, no! They killed Chris Elliot! Now we’ll never get another season of “Eagleheart“! You bastards!
The Asylum’s poor spending of the lighting budget to buy more zombie makeup ends up working in our favor by obscuring EVERYTHING. If only all of their movies could be shot by lantern light!
“You may be a high ranking General, but I’m the fucking president! NO ONE gets to have a bigger beard than mine, damn it! Shave it off, or I’ll rip it from your god damned jaw myself!”
Is he doing his Edward G. Robinson impression, or is he trying to eat an entire sandwich in one mouthful? History may never know.
“I’m no doctor, ladies, but I think the best thing to stop my bleeding wound would be to plug it with your ample boobs. Boob fat is very malleable and would mold to the shape of the wound. But… you know… if you want me to just bleed to death on your floor, I guess you don’t have to.”
“And what’s the deal with this Mason-Dixon Line anyway? I mean, who are these people?! Am I right?! Thank you, you’ve been a terrible audience. Remember to tip your waitress.”
They’re trying not to look at his dollar store mustache, otherwise they’ll laugh and the producers will make them pay for the re-shoot.
I’m no lumberjack, Beard-O, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how you hold a hatchet…
Michael Cera’s creepy dad scrapes a booger from a sleeping woman’s face.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Sixty Dollar Man”
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Bill “Krampus the Christmas Devil” Oberst Jr. , Jason “Gut” Vail , Baby “Just Go 4 It” Norman