History is so much more entertaining when there is a vampire stalking through its dusty monuments. Anne Rice knew that when she planted Lestat in the 18th century. Kim Newman spiced up World War One by transforming “The Bloody Red Baron” into a literal bloodsucker. Who wants a routine making-of-Nosferatu biopic when Willem Dafoe can portray an actual batman in Shadow of the Bat? Indeed, sometimes dead is better.
Seth Grahame-Smith’s contribution to this delightfully morbid alternate history lesson revamped one of our most popular presidents. The author must have cackled when he conceived of supplanting cherry trees with vampire necks for Abe Lincoln’s ax to chop. Sure, the Civil War has lots of dramatic meat to snack on, but Confederate creatures of the night metaphorically works and revitalizes interest in an era hard to fathom from a contemporary point of view.
The cinematic adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter failed to excite the domestic box office gross, but did decent numbers overseas. The book’s popularity was enough to spark a sequel, and three years after it’s publication, NBC believes there is enough plot there to stretch into a series. According to Variety, the television studio will adapt The Last American Vampire into a supernatural thriller akin to Penny Dreadful.
The book follows the vampire, Henry Sturges, as he attempts to track down a rogue member of his coven. Along the way, he encounters historical figures like Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack the Ripper, Nikola Tesla, and a surprise appearance by…well, I won’t spoil that part. Even more so than Abe Lincoln, Henry is used as a tool to connect nearly every significant moment in American history. Through his eyes, we get up close and personal with the industrial revolution, the depression, and both world wars.
However, NBC does not appear interested in Henry’s story. This version of The Last American Vampire will follow the adventures of a young analyst named Abby. She’s been recruited by an X-Files-like section of the F.B.I. and charged with investigating supernatural cases. Her first assignment involves a spree of grotesque murders and a partnership with a 500-year-old vampire. Is that vampire Henry Sturges? Probably.
The pilot for The Last American Vampire has not yet been greenlit, but there is a script commitment with a penalty attached. What does that mean? Well, if the series fails to go to order then NBC will pay a significant fee to the writer involved. In this case, that means writer Terry Matalas and executive producers Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katenberg (both of whom produced last year’s mega-successful adaptation of Stephen King’s IT).
Matalas is best known for his work on the recent 12 Monkeys series for SyFy, but he’s also worked on Star Trek: Enterprise, Nikita, and Terra Nova. Basically, he’s been a serious fixture around the San Diego Comic-Con for quite some time.
It does not appear that you can look at either Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or the novel of The Last American Vampire to discern just exactly what this television series will turn into. Matalas is going for his own thing. The excitement remains on the playful nature of alternative history storytelling, and the always enjoyable addition of the bloodthirsty.