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Lincoln buff breaks down 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' trailer

February 13, 2012|By Mick Swasko, RedEye

If it came to blows with a vampire, Illinois' native son would have kicked some ass.

Though it's generally accepted historical fact that Abraham Lincoln slayed exactly zero vampires during his lifetime, DePaul Professor Mark Pohlad says the 16th president might have had a better chance against the blood-sucking creatures of the night than some might think.

That's the gist of an assessment from DePaul University professor Mark Pohlad, an Abraham Lincoln historian, who on Monday played along when RedEye called to get his take on the newly released trailer for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."

"I'd want Abraham Lincoln if I had to go kick some vampire ass," Pohlad said. "If he had my back, I'd feel pretty good about that."

The associate professor of art history has spent the last three years studying the life of Lincoln through photographic and artistic imagery, giving lectures on Lincoln's Chicago connections and compiling a book on the subject. From what he's learned, he said, Lincoln wasn't lanky. In fact, splitting rails and other manual labor kept the former president in better shape than many at the time expected.

"When they took his shirt off after his assassination, everyone was kind of startled, his arms were pretty buff," he said.

While Pohlad said he sees dropping a trailer on Lincoln's holiday to hawk a big-budget movie as disrespectful to president's legacy, the man himself might be amused.

"There's no other American historical figure that's as loved," he said. "But I got to tell you, he would have smiled. . . . He would have gotten a kick out of it."

There are a few things about Lincoln that make a film with the tagline "President by day, hunter by night" not as completely absurd as it sounds, Pohlad said. Honest Abe was superstitious, and he believed in the power of dreams, premonitions and charms. He built up a reputation in his hometown as a wrestler, grew up performing manual labor and used his axemanship as part of his political campaigns to relate to the everyman. Pohlad surmises that if it came down to a fist-fight between Lincoln and assassin John Wilkes Booth, Abe would have won hands down.

"The other thing people should know about Lincoln is he was a really passionate guy, he felt things really deeply," he said. "He was a guy that was really fiery and tormented and ambitious. It was a rough world and he came from that."

Pohlad took some time to watch the trailer Monday, and said there's things it got right, and things it didn't. The Capitol building remains under-construction, which was accurate for the time period – though a shot of the completed Washington monument was not. The voice of the actor playing Lincoln is too low, Pohlad said, as the president was known to have a higher pitched tone.

But there's one large, rather obvious inaccuracy.

"The biggest thing, of course, is that Lincoln as a vampire hunter is so absurd," he said. "But it's fun, it's kind of cool to think about."

"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is set to be released June 22, and is directed by Timur Bekmambetov, who produced the film alongside Tim Burton. | @mickswasko

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