As you have doubtlessly heard by now, it will not be long until Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter makes an appearance on the big screen. Between the book and the movie, there’s been a lot of chatter about this movie. Some people see it as funny in a bizarre way. Others see it as a masterful exercise in marketing with the marrying together of two major obsessions (we would not expect to see Chester A. Arthur: Gnome Gatherer, for example). I’ve heard Confederate “heritage” advocates deplore the fact that the Confederates are portrayed as vampires (and don’t you think that John Wilkes Booth is a bit of a vampire himself?).
Here’s my dirty little secret: the people who are making the movie consulted with me at several points. That’s right … I was a historical consultant for the film, although I think that’s putting a bright face on what, after all, isn’t a story grounded in history.
It’s easy to divide my involvement into two stages, which I like to call the monumentally inconsequential and the trivially important. In the first stage, I talked to people about the story line itself, and how to deal with some logical issues … mainly about how it seemed that if we were to be true to the theme of the story, we’d have to explain how the Confederates in the West were so much less successful than the Confederates in the East, and how did the tide in the East turned. Perhaps the Confederate vampire detachment was limited to the East; perhaps (I ventured), Ulysses S. Grant was also a vampire hunter, and that would explain how he was able to succeed where others failed (“I don’t know what brand of garlic Grant uses,” Lincoln remarked, “but I’d sure like to know so I could send some to all my generals”). In short, I was scrambling for explanations in light of my charge to make this fusion historical fiction as plausible (and “accurate”) as possible.
Somehow I don’t think that’s where the movie will go, for we did not build on that first long discussion.
This led to the second stage of my involvement … as someone who commented on what certain scenes might look like. The folks were somewhat disappointed when I suggested that pirates and Native Americans were probably not walking the streets of New Orleans and St. Louis. I’ll be interested to see what happened to those observations. I was never asked about Zouaves, who I think would have made a colorful addition to the story.
So all that remains for me to find out is whether my name actually appears in microscopic print in the credits. I suspect not: the IMDb list for the film does not list my name (I have credits listed elsewhere, so this isn’t entirely vainglorious or foolish: indeed, I’m listed on one place as “Brooks D. Simpson,” while I’m simply “Brooks Simpson” in another credit). But I thought it would be better to come clean now. See you at the movies.