Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Frankenweenie" World Premiere Date, Location Announced

Tim Burton fans in Texas are in for a treat, because this year's Fantastic Fest will open with the world premiere of Frankenweenie on Thursday, September 20th, in Austin, Texas at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Check out the official Fantastic Fest 2012 website for more information.

Burton on "Frankenweenie" Comic-Con Panel

Comic-Con has announced that Tim Burton will be on a panel to discuss his forthcoming film, Frankenweenie, at the massive San Diego convention this year. The filmmaker will be present on Thursday, July 12th, 2:05-3:05 PM, in Hall H. He will be joined by Sam Raimi, Rich Moore, Sarah Silverman, and John C. Reilly to talk about other upcoming Disney films in this Q&A.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Explore the Film with Interactive "Frankenweenie" 360

Disney has provided an exciting opportunity to explore the making of the new stop-motion animated film, Frankenweenie, with "Frankenweenie360." Producer Allison Abbate is your guide through this interactive tour of the making of the movie at film set 23. Watch videos with words from animators, camera operators, art directors, and other artists, and see new and previously unseen concept artwork. Click here to explore now!

Photos: Four New "Dark Shadows" Portraits

Dark Shadows News has posted four previously unseen Dark Shadows portraits, featuring Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Bella Heathcoate, and Helena Bonham Carter. Click the images below to enlarge them:

Images © Warner Bros. Entertainment Ltd.

"Ed Wood" on Blu-ray September 18

Tim Burton's highly-acclaimed biographical film, Ed Wood (1994), is slated to be released on Blu-ray on September 18th, reports

Ed Wood is the strange-but-true story of Edward D. Wood, Jr., who has earned the reputation of being the "worst filmmaker of all time" for making such low-budget pictures as Bride of the Monster, Glen or Glenda?, and the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space. The film stars Johnny Depp, Martin Landau (in an Oscar-winning performance as horror movie legend, Bela Lugosi), Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, and Bill Murray, among others.

Special features and technical specifications for the Blu-ray release have yet to be announced, but the Blu-ray will sell for a retail price of $20.00.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Video: Burton on "Vampire Hunter," "Frankenweenie," Old and New Projects

Collider recently had a conversation with Tim Burton. In the interview, the filmmaker discussed a range of topics, from how Disney let him make his stop-motion Frankenweenie, his involvement with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, what he thinks of the test-screening process, whether there are deleted scenes from older films like Ed Wood, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, and Beetlejuice, and his criteria in picking future projects.

Video: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" Mural

Above is a video showing a time-lapse of the making of a contest-winning mural created to promote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Dread Central has more information:

"The online Art Competition ‘Fresh Blood Hunt’ was an opportunity for budding creative talent to design an art piece inspired by the film for the chance to win a 17” MacBook Pro and have their design painted by visionary street artist Jim Rockwell (Endoftheline) as a mural on Great Eastern Street, East London.

"The competition began on Friday, 18th May, and budding artists had until 30th May to enter. After the competition closed, people had from 1st–9th June to visit the site and vote for their favourite piece of art from 12 shortlisted entries. The winning artwork was created by seventeen-year-old Emily Jane Neal from North Devon.

"Emily said, 'My inspiration for my piece was mainly about how Abraham Lincoln was the President of the USA. That is why I included the American flag and a well-known picture of him with his iconic hat on - so that anyone who saw my design would know that the film is about him.'"

Click the image below to see the entire mural:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Christopher Lee, Tom Kenny Join "Frankenweenie"

IMDb reports that 90-year-old, legendary actor Christopher Lee and prolific voice actor Tom Kenny (Spongebob SquarePants, The Powerpuff Girls, Adventure Time with Finn and Jake) are providing voices in Frankenweenie. Lee will be reprising his iconic vampire role as "Movie Dracula," while Kenny will play multiple parts, including a fire chief, a soldier, and various townsfolk.

This is Christopher Lee's sixth collaboration with Tim Burton. Previously, they have worked on Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Dark Shadows (2012). Lee was also going to have an appearance in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) as the head ghost, until that part of the film was cut.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

8 "Frankenweenie" Character Banners, Descriptions

Empire Online and Disney have released eight brand-new character banners and descriptions profiling the cast of Frankenweenie. Click the images below to enlarge them (UPDATE: You can get extremely high resolution versions of these images in this link):

First up, there's Victor Frankenstein, voiced by Charlie Tahan. Here's what we learn about him:
"Victor Frankenstein is a clever, industrious 10-year-old. He lives with his parents and dog, Sparky, and immerses himself in making films and inventing in his attic workshop. When Sparky dies in a car accident, Victor uses scientific ingenuity to bring him back to life."

Next, Sparky himself:
"Sparky is a playful bull terrier whose sense of curiosity is matched only by his owner, Victor. Sparky enjoys chasing after balls and starring in Victor’s homemade movies. He exudes tons of energy and enthusiasm, which even his untimely death doesn’t diminish."

Victor's parents are voiced by Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short.
"Mr. Frankenstein is a travel agent, who likes to dispense roundabout advice to his son. He is proud of Victor’s accomplishments, but is concerned he doesn’t have any friends other than Sparky. He encourages him to join the baseball team. Mr. Frankenstein has a playful and loving relationship with his wife, Victor’s mom, who encourages her son’s scientific pursuits, even when her kitchen appliances end up in his attic lab."

Then Elsa Van Helsing, voiced by Winona Ryder
"Elsa Van Helsing is a soulful and somber classmate of Victor. She lives next door with her tyrant uncle, Mayor Burgemeister, who forces her to be this year’s “Little Dutch Girl” at the town’s celebration of Dutch Day. Elsa also has a beloved pet, her poodle Persephone, and truly empathizes with Victor when he loses Sparky."

Persephone is Elsa's dog.
"Persephone is a perfectly groomed black poodle. She is fiercely loyal to Elsa, her owner. When Persephone and Sparky first meet in the backyard, the attraction is instantaneous and electrifying."

Then there's Toshiaki (James Hiroyuki Liao)
"Toshiaki is over-achieving and mega-competitive. He delights in beating Victor at his own game and like a power-hungry mad scientist, Toshiaki will stop at nothing to win the top prize in the school’s science fair—even if it means stealing Victor’s ideas to do it."

Robert Capron is Bob.
"Bob is a momma’s boy, the brawn to Toshiaki’s brains. He is never mean-spirited, but he’s easily led and gullible. Bob follows Toshiaki everywhere, but is the first one to run to Victor for help when he gets in over his head."

And Bob's mum is voiced by Conchata Ferrell.
"Bob’s Mom is a plump, suburban housewife who is prone to panic and hysteria when things go awry. She has very simple, stereotypical views on life. She dotes on her son Bob and believes her actions, though often misguided, are in his best interest."

Video: Burton on "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

In this video interview, producer Tim Burton talks about why Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter appealed to him, the similarities to the portrayal of the U.S. president in the film and superheroes like Batman, working with writer Seth Grahame-Smith, director Timur Bekmambetov, and leading actor Benjamin Walker (and what their unique perspectives brought to the film), and more.

Linkin Park's "Vampire Hunter" Music Video

Here is the music video for Linkin Park's song, "Powerless," which will be featured in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The song is from the band's upcoming fifth album, "Living Things," which will be released in the United States on June 26th. The song is set to play during the end credits of the film, says Ace Showbiz.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Videos: "Vampire Hunter" Cast & Crew Interviews

Here are eight new videos featuring cast and crew members of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter discussing their new film, which will be released in theaters this Friday:

Benjamin Walker:

Anthony Mackie:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Rufus Sewell

Dominic Cooper:

Director Timur Bekmambetov:

Writer Seth Grahame-Smith:

Producer Jim Lemley:

Video: Burton on "Beetlejuice 2"

Shock Till You Drop
spoke with Tim Burton to get a few words on the possibility of making a sequel to Beetlejuice. Here is a transcript of what Burton had to say:

"Seth [Grahame-Smith] is writing something, so we'll see. I love the character but I want to just kind of look at it from a fresh perspective and see what he comes up with. That's like one of my favorite characters I've ever dealt with. [Michael Keaton] is one of the first people I worked with who was so good at improv. That movie, I was very lucky to work with a lot of actors, like him and Catherine O'Hara, who were very good at improv, so that kind of set me on a whole new course. I would love to revisit that character at some point."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Photo: "Vampire Hunter" Visits USS Lincoln

Here's an amusing photo of Benjamin Walker aboard the USS Lincoln to promote the new film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and to give the service men and women an advance screening of the movie.

Videos: Two New "Vampire Hunter" Clips

Two new clips from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter have appeared online. Obviously, potential SPOILERS within. The film will be released in theaters this Friday.

"Real Power":

"Waltz of Death":

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Frankenweenie" Comic-Con Banners Appear in San Diego

Banners promoting Frankenweenie and Comic-Con have been put up in downtown San Diego. Comic-Con will host the touring exhibition, "The Art of Frankenweenie," from July 12-15. Click the above image to enlarge it.

Interview: Burton, Grahame-Smith on "Vampire Hunter"

Flicks and Bits interviewed producer Tim Burton and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith to learn more about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

How did the genesis of the idea for ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ come about for you?

Seth Grahame-Smith: In every book store that I would go to around the country, no matter where it was, there was always the two tables in the front of the store. There was the Vampire books table, and there was the Abraham Lincoln biography table (laughs). I call it the chocolate and peanut butter moment, sort of subconscious inspiration. I started thinking, “People love this, people love Vampires and always have. And people love Abraham Lincoln, especially in the United States.” It just sparked an interesting question, in my mind anyway, which was, “Could you graft a genre story onto this extremely well known, iconic life story of Abraham Lincoln?”

Blending history and reality, iconic history at that, I can imagine that being a difficult task?

Tim Burton: Yeah, ’Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ basically takes the story of Abraham Lincoln, which Seth really went through the history of the life of Lincoln, and linked it up to Vampire mythology. The idea that his mother was killed by a Vampire, how that shaped the rest of his life. The interesting thing about it is that it’s not as far fetched as it sounds. I mean, the idea, the events leading him to be a Vampire Hunter and all the deaths he had in his family, people close to him, it makes a lot of sense and it’s actually a lot more believable than the premise makes it (laughs). That’s what was interesting. We never wanted to make fun of anything, we wanted to treat it seriously and like a human story.

Seth, how did Tim get on board with this project?

Seth Grahame-Smith: Tim was interested in what I had next and he read the proposal for ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.’ The next thing I know I get a call out of nowhere while I’m writing the book, that went, “Tim Burton wants to meet with you about producing your book as a movie.” That blew my mind wide open (laughs). And so I was like, “Yeah, I think I can fit that into my schedule.” (Laughs) The next thing I know, he had produced a film called ‘9’ with Jim Lemley and Timur Bekmambetov, so the three of them already had a working relationship. Then before I know it, I’m in a room talking to these three producers.

Tim Burton: I had first heard the idea even before Seth had written the book. I just heard the title, ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,’ all of a sudden my mind just went into overdrive. It took me back to the era of films that I grew up in, in the 60s, early 70s, where there was a weird mash up of movies. I remember things like ’Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde,’ you got these weird mix-ups of horror films. It just sounded to me the kind of a movie that I wanted to see, it really reminded me of that era. It had a crazy energy to it, a weird juxtaposition of things.

What do you think Timur Bekmambetov brought to your story?

Seth Grahame-Smith: Timur challenges you to go further. No matter how far you think you’ve gone, Timur will think about it and say, “No, I think we can go further.” What that means is that we can go further in the layers of the story, we can go further in the meaning of a piece of voiceover, we can go further in the bigness of a set piece. Some people are “less is more” people, Timur is a “more is more” kinda guy (laughs).

There’s an interesting superhero-esque duality to Abraham Lincoln in this story?

Tim Burton: Yeah. We talked about the idea of it very much mirroring the classic, comic book superhero mythology. In some cases he’s not that dissimilar from Batman in the sense of him having a dual day job as President and a night job as a Vampire Hunter. The duality of those kind of characters, that again was something that was really important. To keep the human quality of him, but then explore the mythological, superhero nature of how we perceive Abraham Lincoln. Mix those two together and that’s what we have here.

How do you hope audiences will react to ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’?

Seth Grahame-Smith: My hope is that audiences take away a couple of things. Number one, I hope they have fun and I hope they enjoy the craziness of it all. But beyond that I hope that they take away even the slightest appreciation for the things that the real man, the real Abraham Lincoln went through in his life. If anything I hope that maybe a few of them will be inspired to go and check out a little bit more about Abraham Lincoln. I think that they’ll be surprised that when they do, they will see that he was every bit the superhero we portrayed him as, only in a different way.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Play the "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" Game

You can now play the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter game to pass the time while waiting for the film to hit theaters next week. Test your vampire slaying skills against the terrifying creatures of the night. Go to the Apple link to download the app.

Burton on Making "Frankenweenie" Work

IGN visited Tim Burton for a tour of the making of his stop-motion animated film, Frankenweenie, which some are describing as not only Burton's "dream project," but one of the most personal feature films he's made.

“There’s a kind of House of Frankenstein feel to it,” explains Burton, referring to the 1944 classic film that brought Universal’s horror movie franchises – Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman – together on the screen. “It’s a way for me to go back to what the original concept of the drawings was; stuff and characters I’d been thinking about over the years, without any real framework. So when we decided to do it with [screenwriter] John August, and focused on it with some other monsters, it sort of took on that tone a little bit. But still keeping the essence of what the original was.”

There will be plenty of monsters in the film, but producer Allison Abbate clarified that the real villains of the film will not necessarily be the most grotesque or strange looking. "It’s the people who are the freakish monsters in the story,” says Abbate. “It’s normal school politics on a heightened level,“ Burton elaborates. “It's like that kid you always thought was weird at school, but here he also looks more like Boris Karloff or Peter Lorre. They’re basically all horrible people…”

Burton enthusiastically weaves in and out of his studio like it's his own laboratory. “It’s always quite surreal to see people working on them,” he marvels, “five people on this one house, it’s incredible.”

Some of the sets are even based on Burton's own childhood experiences. “This is the school I went to,” Burton winces, as we tour the local high school, its science lab replete with details like chemistry sets and Bunsen burners. “I can’t stay in this room, it brings back horrible memories!” He squints again at the building’s clean, oppressive outline and regimented rows of desks. “Jeez… is the school [designed by] Leni Riefenstahl?”

Burton has had the unique opportunity to make this film in black and white. Since all of the sets, puppets, and props exist in the real world, everything had to be handmade and shot in reality, with real-world physics to consider. In a sense, it's almost like making a live-action film in slow-motion, rather than a traditional or computer animated movie. “The great thing about this is we light it like it’s a real movie,” Burton enthuses. “Even frame by frame it helps the acting. You kinda feel like a giant on a live-action set, but with that classic black and white richness and depth of field.”

In addition to being in black and white, the film will also be presented in 3D. However, it will not be shot in stereoscopic 3D. But Burton has had experience with such a post-production conversion process on The Nightmare Before Christmas, and feels that it can work. “Knowing you’re going to do it and having the time to do makes sure it’s not a crappy conversion. We took time with Nightmare.”

“People want this ‘revolt against 3D,’” he says impatiently. “I don’t adopt that like it’s one way or the other. It should be a choice. To me, more choice is better than no choice. I’ve seen good 3D and bad 3D movies. I would understand people seeing a crappy 3D movie and feeling ripped off.”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Video: Walker, Grahame-Smith on "Vampire Hunter," "Beetlejuice 2"

The Reel Bits has posted this video interview with actor Benjamin Walker and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith. The two men discuss their latest project, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The pair talk about treating the actual historical figure of President Lincoln with respect in this amusing fictional mash-up, Walker's preparation for the role, how Lincoln historians have responded to this film, and more.

Grahame-Smith also talks about the possible Beetlejuice sequel that he is currently developing with Warner Bros. Grahame-Smith explained that he has met with both Tim Burton and Michael Keaton to discuss the possibility of making a sequel to the 1988 comedy, but stressed that nobody wants to do the project simply to cash in on a familiar name. He reassured the interviewer that if the sequel is never made, it's because they "couldn't do it right."

New Photo: Burton Visits "Frankenweenie" Crew

Another new photo of Tim Burton visiting the crew responsible for making Frankenweenie has surfaced. Click the above image to enlarge it.

"Frankenweenie" Sweepstakes: Meet Tim Burton at Comic-Con

Disney is offering a sweepstakes for Frankenweenie. Here are the details below:

"ENTER NOW for a chance to win a trip to San Diego and two tickets to Comic Con 2012 plus VIP passes to the Frankenweenie Exhibit where you will have a chance to meet Tim Burton! July 11 - July 14, 2012*"

Click here to enter for your chance to win.

San Diego's Comic-Con will be hosting the touring exhibition, "The Art of Frankenweenie," from July 11-15. Puppets, sets, artwork, and much more from the forthcoming animated film will be on display.

Video: "Vampire Hunter" Clip: "Train Escape"

Here's a clip from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, showing the beginning of the epic train battle.

The film will be released in theaters on June 22nd.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

10 New Behind-the-Scenes "Frankenweenie" Photos has posted ten new photos showing Tim Burton and his team of artists bringing to life their newest stop-motion animated film, Frankenweenie. Click the images below to enlarge them:

Director Tim Burton and producer Allison Abbate.

Video: Making "Frankenweenie"

A new video showing unique behind-the-scenes footage of the making of Frankenweenie has surfaced. The video shows Tim Burton and various artists meticulously put together the stop-motion puppets to bring the film to life, from constructing the skeletal armatures that enable mobility to adding the fine textural touches on the puppets' surfaces, as well as a couple of sets for the film.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Photos: Anthony Mackie in "Vampire Hunter"

Here's our first glimpse of Anthony Mackie as William H. Johnson, Abe's right-hand man, in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, courtesy of Click the images below to enlarge them:

Anthony Mackie and Benjamin Walker

Anthony Mackie, Rufus Sewell, and Erin Wasson

Monday, June 11, 2012

Video: "The Art of Frankenweenie" Exhibition Preview

Here's a video providing us with a glimpse of the upcoming global exhibition, "The Art of Frankenweenie." Producer Allison Abbate gives us a preview, which includes some sightings of new characters and new footage from the stop-motion film.

"Frankeweenie" Art Exhibition Touring Worldwide

UPDATE: Click here to see a video preview of the art exhibition.

UPDATE #2: Listed below are the newest details on the global dates for the tour.

A new art exhibition for Frankenweenie will be touring select locations around the world, writes Disney Vault. The exhibition will display actual sets, puppets, and artwork revealing the process of making the hand-crafted stop-motion film.

Here is a list of the museums that will be visited by the exhibition:


Barcelona: June 18-21
San Diego (Comic-Con): July 11-15
Mexico City: July 27 - August 7
Toronto: August 23-26
Anaheim (Disneyland Resort): September 14 - November 5
Madrid: September 9 - October 14
London: October 17-21
Paris: October 23 - November 2
Tokyo: December 5-26

Frankenweenie will hit theaters on October 5th, 2012.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Vampire Hunter" Soundtrack Cover Art, Track Listing

The cover artwork and track listing for the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter soundtrack have been released. Henry Jackman composed the score. Click here for the track listing, but beware of SPOILERS. The soundtrack will be available for purchase on July 3rd, 2012.

Tim Burton Kills Vampire in Music Video

In case you haven't seen it yet, here is Tim Burton as Van Helsing killing a vampire in the short film/music video, "Vampires Kiss" & "Blood Inside," directed by Derek Frey.

Music by Witching Hour.

Starrring: Yusura Bush Watcher, Valery Nuttall, Leah Gallo, Sabrina Lecordier, Benoit Moranne, Chris Nuttall, Malcolm Davis, Tim Burton, Dave Dore, Glen Mexted, Aiko Horiuchi, Kirsty Squibb, Jack Taylor, Davina Davine, Ross Nelson, Holly Kempf, Gary Keller, Olly Driscoll.

Edited by Derek Frey
Cinematography by Derek Frey
Special Makeup FX & Prosthetics by Malwina Suwinska
Visual Effects by Holly Gosnell

"Dark Shadows" Box Office Results

Box Office Mojo has released information on the box office results for Dark Shadows. As of this weekend, the domestic U.S. gross of the film has been approximately $72.7 million. The film was released in the United States a month ago on May 11th. A further $120.5 million was accumulated overseas. Strong international performers include Japan ($18.6 million), France ($14.2 million), Russia ($11.1 million), the UK ($9.7 million), and Australia ($9.4 million). The film will likely pass the $200 million mark after opening in South America.

Making the Opening Titles of "Dark Shadows"

Richard Morrison created the opening titles for Tim Burton's Dark Shadows. This was Morrison's third collaboration with the director, having previously worked on Batman (1989) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) with him.

A short article from the website Dexinger has words from Morrison, who explained how he used footage shot by Tim Burton himself to get a sense of the design of the opening titles, settling on the Benguiat typeface to set the mood.

"Tim shot this long sequence where Bella Heathcote, who plays a young nanny, is travelling on a train through the New England brownwoods," commented Richard Morrison. "It's a beautiful bit of footage that sweeps the audience from the landscape right into the compartment of the speeding train.

"After looking at different treatment, we decided to keep things really simple and work with type to evoke the mood. Benguiat has a lovely feel that's reminiscent of 70's TV shows. And together with the music score, we arrived at a very simple opening, but one that's quite unsettling, which captures the essence of the film."

"Dark Shadows" Art Book Coming in November

An art book looking at the making of the motion picture, Dark Shadows, will be released on November 27th, 2012. Little is known about the book so far, which is titled, "Dark Shadows: The Art of the Film," and will include a foreword by Tim Burton, but you can pre-order it at

Video: The Production Art of "Dark Shadows"

Warner Bros. has released this featurette examining the production art of Dark Shadows. Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, production designer Rick Heinrichs, associate producer Derek Frey, Eva Green, and makeup department head Joel Harlow look at how the visions of the various artists on the crew came together to create the film's aesthetic, from rough (and previously unseen) sketches by Burton to elaborate concept artwork.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Video: An Animated Tim Burton Filmography

French animator and graphic designer Martin Woutisseth created this charming animated filmography of Tim Burton's feature films. This animated tribute was created for a contest by La Cinematheque Francaise. (Dark Shadows was not included in the video due to time constraints.)

Civil War Re-Enactors Help Make "Vampire Hunter" More Accurate

The Kansas City Star wrote an article on Civil War re-enactors who helped make the vampire movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter more historically accurate. The entire story is below:

Civil War re-enactors in 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' helped slay inaccuracies
‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ Local historians contributed knowledge and dedication as extras on ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.’
The Kansas City Star

Sweat beaded the faces of nearly 400 Civil War soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder in the Louisiana humidity.

In formation, waiting. Ready to charge the hill, hollering rebel yells.

The movie director gave the word: ACTION! … and the world blew up.

Fifty ground charges exploded at once, hurling concrete powder, heavy mulch and dirt clods up to 70 feet high, then raining down smoke and debris on all those Confederates shooting, coughing, pitching to the ground.

In those few erupting, howling seconds, some Kansas City men forgot they were making a movie at all. And the fear captured on their faces was real.

Though the vampires were not.

“Oh, those vampires were cool,” said Christian Shuster, “stuntmen who really knew how to ‘vamp’ out.’” A year ago, the Missouri re-enactor worked three days on the movie set. His day gig is with Hallmark Cards.

Last spring, at least a dozen Kansas City-based hard-core living historians were invited to be “extras with knowledge,” as one re-enactor put it, because the producers of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” wanted it to be as historically accurate as possible.

Setting aside the blood sucking.

A gag order stopped any locals from talking until now. Civil War heroics are blended with European demons in this movie genre smoothie that will be out June 22. Producer Tim Burton bought the rights to the book by Seth Grahame-Smith and hired him to write the screenplay.

The premise is that Lincoln saves the country with political decisions by day and slays the undead with his axe-slashing martial arts skills by night. The top-hatted legend is depicted as the nation’s very first superhero.

The bad guys, who do not just hold slaves in bondage but feed on them, are depicted with white faces cackling with demonic glee, blood dripping from fangs. Feathery blue veins (some that pulse, thanks to the makeup artists) crisscross their jowls. They leap skyward, hissing with an unworldly air. Unfurled talons on every finger.

“Yeah, they were pretty scary-looking,” Shuster said, laughing, remembering the 30 or so male actors with that bloodthirsty look.

But “the nemesis villain girl?” Dressed in her antebellum-influenced but leather corset that clung to every curve, with her porcelain face, red hair, vamped-out eyelashes and bright red lipstick? Shuster’s sigh was deep.

“She often ate lunch with us,” he said, and many men noticed she avoided red-meat dishes.

Civil War enthusiasts from all over the country brought their gunfire-trained horses, their muskets, bayonets, canvas tents and enough uniforms to fight for whichever side needed them the most. Shuster fought on both sides.

“I have no qualms about letting my inner Yankee come out,” he said. “You know, spitting on dogs, cussing at ladies, like a good Jayhawker.” He’s normally a Reb captain in the re-enacting group the 3rd Missouri Infantry.

Another Missouri re-enactor, Patrick Cole, who is also a bagpiper and a paramedic in Lafayette and Johnson counties, tries for realism, but only so much of it. “I’m not a stitch-Nazi. I don’t hand-sew my stuff. I don’t have the patience to hand-sew a sleeve for hours and hours. That’s where the bar is for me. But I do tie rags around my boots.”

Cole is a member of Terry’s Texas Rangers, Company H, with the Razorback Flying Battery and its draft horses that pull cannons and caissons. He and the other re-enactors were asked to share their experience and correct any historical mistakes. The worst that Cole witnessed: an obese Confederate soldier who actually waddled on the field in the first battle scene. He was asked to leave.

“I worried that this whole moviemaking thing would turn into a farb fest,” Cole said, using the derogatory term for those with flawed Civil War attire. “It didn’t.”

One of the most authentic units was The Tater Mess Boys, with members from Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas. These men were hard-core enough to scorn the hotel accommodations. Instead, they built a camp just outside the set, slept without tents, cooked their own provisions, shunned showers and, naturally, flush toilets. The genteel Hollywood set was impressed.

They watched as all the Midwest re-enactors gathered in the parking lot every morning by 6 a.m., marched in formation to the set, worked all day in the sun and continued drilling hour-after-hour.

The re-enactors’ discipline, attention to detail and dedicated immersion in Civil War culture stunned Mark Carter, the second unit director coordinating the battle scenes and action sequences. He made sure that his camera crew caught the little moments — a soldier reloading his rifle, hand-rolling a smoke or dropping to one knee waiting for the next scene.

“One guy tripped and gashed his nose,” Carter said. “It was all bloody. If it was me, I would have been to the hospital so fast. But he told me, ‘You wouldn’t stop in a war. You’d just keep going.’ So he did, too. … The re-enactors would do anything and everything to make the battle scenes come to life. And anybody watching this movie will see that!

“… All these guys were really, really great to work with.”

Carter had a smattering of high-school Civil War lessons before shooting the movie. But after, he said, he has a much greater appreciation of history and the reality of the hardships the soldiers endured.

“Only maybe a tenth of people in the United States ever hike the Appalachian Trail. Those Civil War troops hiked through foliage like that for months, without our modern clothes or anything, and then they’d stop to fight a battle.”

Asked what new thing he learned about the Civil War, he replied, tongue in cheek:

“Vampires. I never knew they were around then. Think about it. The South wasn’t doing well, and then they suddenly picked things up. How? I’m just saying …”


Definitely the premise of vampires could be a stumbling point for Civil War purists, said Adam Canterbury, a re-enactor and college drama student from Edgerton in Johnson County. But he thinks the producers’ attention to historical detail keeps the movie from getting campy and gives the public a little more insight into the era.

“If people can just get past the title, I think they’ll enjoy the movie.”

Canterbury worked two weeks on the movie, longer than most of the other re-enactors. He was one of the extras in the crowd listening to the Gettysburg Address delivered by Lincoln, played by 6-foot-3 Benjamin Walker. “I got chills, it was so awesome. That was for me maybe the best part.”

The realism of the props — dead horses, corpses and even artillery pieces made of rubber for hurling by vampires — was interesting. And he’s certain that he nearly stumbled on a very flesh-and-blood Tim Burton, the film’s producer, dressed in Federal gear, running in the line. “I brushed shoulders with him.”

Looking forward to its release, Canterbury added, “I have a good feeling that all of us who participated in this will be proud of it once it’s out …

“If nothing else, I’ll be able to say, it’s the most historically accurate vampire movie I’ve ever been a part of.”

Read "Vampire Hunter" Comic Book Online

Shock Till You Drop is hosting a comic book version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The comic book features storyboard artwork from the making of the film. You can read the first part, "Civil War," for free online now, with more installments coming in the near future.

Video: Trailer for "The Art of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" Book

A trailer promoting the art book, "Director's Cut: The Art of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," has been posted online. The book will be available for purchase on June 20th, two days before the release of the motion picture.