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The Return of Universal's Monsters:

Van Helsing

In 1999 Universal Studios brought their old tradition of big monster movies back to movie screens with The Mummy, a new version of their classic Karloff film from 1932. The film was so successful that director Stephen Sommers produced a sequel, The Mummy Returns in 2001. The overall tone of these films was of course totally different from their 60-year old predecessors. These new versions blended action/adventure films in the tradition of Indiana Jones with horror and state-of-the-art computer effects and were produced for a much younger target audience.
With their next project, Universal and director Stephen Sommers revived Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man.

Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman of X-Men fame), Vatican City's vampire slayer, is sent to Transsylvania to assist the Valerious family in their fight against Count Dracula. Together with beautiful vampire hunter Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) he uncovers Dracula's evil plan to infest the world with thousands of his vampire children: Using the life energy of the Frankenstein Monster and Frankenstein's laboratory equipment, Dracula wants to animate his evil offspring. In a non-stop chase from Rome to Eastern Europe, Van Helsing, aided by the Frankenstein Monster, a friar and Anna, battles werewolves, Dracula's evil brides and Igor and finally vanquishes the vampire king himself.
Vampire hunter with Heavy Metal hairdo -
Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing

Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) wants a word
with Frankenstein's Monster
Stephen Sommers mega-monster blockbuster starts out with a slightly modified creation scene from Whale's classic Frankenstein (1931). We see Victor Frankenstein in his laboratory yelling his famous words, "It's alive!", while an enraged mob of villagers attacks his castle. However, we soon learn that Frankenstein was not only assisted by hunchbacked Igor, but also by Dracula, who provided machinery and funds. The Count then claims the creature and kills Victor Frankenstein, who refuses to hand over his creation. The Monster grabs its creator's dead body and escapes to an old windmill, which is then torched by the angry villagers.

Don't mess with Van Helsing's ladies:
Anna (Kate Beckinsale) and
Dracula's brides
(Elena Anaya, Silvia Colloca and Josie Maran)

This set-out is symptomatic for the whole film (as is the fact that Mary Shelley or Bram Stoker are not even credited as inspirations for the screenplay): Taking bits and pieces from previous movies, director and screenwriter Sommers modifies traditional monster mythology, adds new features and tries to blend in as much from old Universal movies as possible. The result is a 145-minute rollercoaster ride of non-stop computer-animated action, set in gorgeous scenery. As said on Harry Knowles Aintitcoolnews website, Van Helsing is like a 9 year old's dream of the "ultimate badass Universal monster movie". It is an updated 21st-century comic book version of Universal's classic 1940s monster team-ups, pure entertainment without any ambition to work on a deeper level other than that of providing 2 hours of hi-tech escapism.

The character of the Frankenstein Monster, although basically an updated version of Boris Karloff's impersonation and only a minor character here, owes more to Shelley's original creation than would be expected from such a hollow movie. Here, the Monster is again the misunderstood, pitiful creature, whose greatest wish is to be accepted by mankind, and who just wants "to exist", as he once answers to Van Helsing. There is nothing evil in this creature, and in the end, the Monster sets out on a raft to an unknown place, where he will finally find peace.

Actually a quite nice guy: Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein's Monster


Cast & Crew:  
Van Helsing Hugh Jackman
Anna Kate Beckinsale
Dracula Richard Roxburgh
The Monster Shuler Hensley
Igor Kevin J. O'Connor
Writing credits Stephen Sommers
Music Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Allen Daviau
Producers Bob Ducsay, Sam Mercer, David Minkowski, Stephen Sommers, Matthew Stillman
Director Stephen Sommers



Frankenstein in the 1940s