Van Helsing

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Van-helsing.jpg

Not to be confused with Hellsing

Rule #1 of action movies: Hugh Jackman makes anything awesome.

At least, that's the theory behind Van Helsing (2004), which stars Jackman as fabled vampire hunter Van Helsing. In this incarnation, he works as an agent of the Knights of the Holy Order in the Vatican to hunt down monsters and other abominations. Aiding him is Friar Carl, a slightly irreverent tinkerer and inventor that supplies him with the specialty equipment and comic relief he needs to take down the creatures of the night.

Yeah. It's just that kind of movie.

Van Helsing and Friar Carl are sent to Transylvania to help the last of the Valerious family, Anna and her brother Velkan, destroy Dracula - because if they don't, several generations of the family will never get to heaven. Once there, Van Helsing finds himself facing down Dracula and his brides, werewolves, and even Frankenstein's creation in the course of his mission - and discovering a few secrets about his own past, with plenty of Universal Horror / Hammer Horror Shout Outs along the way.

A reboot is currently in the works, to possibly be written by the writing team behind the Transformers Film Series.


Tropes used in Van Helsing include:
  • Actor Allusion: Kate Beckinsale's character hunts vampires and Hugh Jackman's character turns into a werewolf.
  • Adaptational Badass: One of the entire points to making the film was to reinvent the Van Helsing character into a younger, action hero-type.
  • Adapted Out: Carl is probably doing inventing gadgets in the "I'm not in the video game tie-in." Department.
  • Affably Evil: Dracula is surprisingly pleasant and polite for a bloodsucking hellbeast.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version uses "Wild Romance" by Kyosuke Himuro.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Oh, look, vampires are weak to werewolves. Looks like Van Helsing has a new way to make Dracula Deader Than Dead.
  • Angel Unaware: The title character is implied to be this, due to repeatedly being referred to by Dracula as "Gabriel".
    • Van Helsing also early on mentions to Carl that he remembers fighting Romans at Masada in 72 AD.
    • The Novelisation actually downright confirms this. Van Helsing is mentioned as having two large disfiguring scars between his shoulder blades, right where wings would be. The scars would seem to imply they were forcibly torn out.
  • Animated Adaptation: The London Assignment, a prequel to the movie.
  • Arch Enemy
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Anna manages to cut off Frankenstein's monster in mid-rant:

Anna: What do you want?
Frankenstein's Monster: ...To exist.

  • Artistic License History: The Valerious family seem to be simultaneously descended from Romanian nobility and Gypsys. Given the general attitude towards Gypsys at the time that's an extremely unlikely combination.
    • Not necessarily, as it doesn't say they were legitimate, so possibly pretty Gypsy girl caught the eye of a Romanian noble...
  • Artistic License Religion: Van Helsing must kill Dracula to prevent the Valerious family from "passing into Purgatory" and never reaching Heaven. Yeah, except that, according to Catholic dogma, passing into Purgatory means eventually ending up in Heaven.
    • The movie states that they would be stuck in Purgatory forever, because of a special deal the original Valerious made.
  • Art Shift: A prequel was released that showed Van Hellsing's encounter with Mr. Hyde that was referred to in the opening scene of the movie, it is also an animated cartoon.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Anna has this. Her idea of a sensible solution when confronted with a horde of vampires is to grab a mace that was mounted on the wall, brandish it, and start to throw herself into the horde. Fortunately, Van Helsing is there to drag her out of harm's way.
  • Audible Sharpness: Van Helsing's werewolf claws extend with a Wolverine-like SNIKT.
  • Automatic Crossbows: Van Helsing wields a gas-powered automatic gatling-style crossbow.
  • Badass: The werewolves. Especially Van Helsing.
  • Badass Longcoat: Dracula and Van Helsing.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The vampires when in monster mode, have no nipples and genitalia on their seemingly nude bodies.
    • Justified in that all the creatures that transform have their clothes transform too. The lone exceptions are Velkan and Van Helsing, who retain their pants when transforming, even as they rip off their upper clothing and skin.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Dracula and his brides turn into flying bat... things.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Any flesh wounds the vampires sustain heal pretty much instantly. Although this is averted when they die and shrivel up.
  • Belly Dancer: Marishka certainly dresses like one, though she kind of gets killed before we see much of her.
  • Between My Legs: The framing of Van Helsing in his first meeting with Anna.
    • And that one moment during the following action scene when he is almost speaking with her special friend.
  • Big Badass Werewolves
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Dracula's brides.
    • Kinda funny how they get killed in that order as well.
  • Bodyguard Babes: The Brides.
  • Captain Ersatz: This probably fits under a different trope, but this movie is very, very Castlevania. Namely when Dracula turns into a bat-demon (cue Dance of Illusion).
  • Captain Obvious: "You're choking me!" Gee, Anna, was the choke hold he had on your neck your first clue?
  • Captive Date: Dracula takes Anna to his masquerade ball and forces her to dance with him while waiting for Van Helsing to arrive. No ropes used, but it's clear he's using some kind of mind control or muscle control.
  • Carrying the Antidote: There's a very good reason why Dracula carries the antidote for lycanthropy. No good reasons why he doesn't just annihilate all the werewolves.
    • Dracula needed someone far stronger than a normal human to channel the energies needed in his attempt to bring his horde of baby vampires to life. Before Frankenstein's Monster, he really did need at least one alive.
      • Plus, they make useful servants. A lot of people keep dogs despite the fact that there is a slim chance of said dog turning and attacking them.
        • What's more, useful servants who have to obey his every command. They're no threat to him Not after their first full moon at any rate.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Light Bomb.
  • Chewing the Scenery: "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?"
  • Christianity Is Catholic: The Knights of the Holy Order supposedly encompass monster-hunters of all religions... but it's housed in the Vatican and run by Catholic priests. You do, however, see Buddhist monks, mullahs, and some other clergymen in the "base".
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: Van Helsing sports these for his intro shot, but quickly ditches the mask.
  • Confessional: Van Helsing meets his superior in one of these.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: The final battle - a werewolf vs Dracula.
  • Costume Porn: All three brides. Also, the masquerade ball.
  • The Creepy Undertaker: The one in the village who greets Van Helsing.
  • Cross-Melting Aura: Dracula.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Van Helsing might be an angel, might be Dracula's protegé, might be Wolverine in an earlier incarnation. Dracula knows him, though. We just never find out how.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Van Helsing, Frankenstein's monster, even Anna could count.
  • Deader Than Dead
  • Deadpan Snarker: Van Helsing and Dracula both get their share of moments.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The opening scenes, in an homage to old monster movies of the 1930s and 40s.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Anna was destined to kill Dracula. She whales on his brides instead.
  • Died Happily Ever After: Anna.
  • Dirty Old Monk: Friar Carl.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: "If there's one thing I've learned, it's never be the first to stick your hand into a viscous material."
  • Dracula
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: ... including horse-drawn carriages loaded with wooden stakes and explosive charges. That are on fire.
    • Justified as the carriage in question was meant to be a 19th century equivalent to car bomb.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Why else would she be Princess Anna Valerious? Even the vampires call her that.
    • And, you know, the thing about her father being king of the gypsies.
  • Evil Gloating: Dracula... oh, so very much.
  • Evil Redhead: Aleera.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Van Helsing remembering fighting the Romans in 73 A.D and also Dracula introducing himself as born 1422, murdered 1462. The film's set in 1888.
  • Fan Service: You've got Hugh Jackman, and shirtless, suffering Velkan for the ladies, and Anna (Kate Beckinsale) & the Brides for the men. And, of course, the Monster Mash premise is probably meant as fanservice of a non-sexual sort.
  • Fantastic Catholicism
  • Faux Action Girl: Anna Valerious, through and through. See that page for more details.
    • More a case of Overshadowed by Awesome. Yes, Anna doesn't fare too well against superstrong werewolves and vampires, but she's just a normal if athletic human with a sword. Van Helsing... isn't.
    • Considering that she's been raised from birth to fight vampires and the like, it's truly a wonder how she lasted so long.
  • Fight Off the Kryptonite: Dracula vs. Crucifix. It's a tie, really. He screams, it melts.
  • Fingore: Van Helsing tells Anna to cut off one of Igor's fingers if he should fail to comply. She clearly has slightly more esoteric targets in mind...
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Franchise Killer: There were plans to launch a spinoff TV series, Transylvania, but they were scrapped in light of the lower-than-expected box office and mostly bad reviews.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: A very steampunk incarnation.
  • Fur Against Fang: Apparently, the only thing in the known universe that can kill Dracula is a werewolf.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Friar Carl.
  • Genre Savvy: Friar Carl again. Also Dracula and Van Helsing himself from time to time.

Velkan: I would rather die than help you!
Dracula: Ooh, don't be boring. Everyone who says that dies.

  • Ghost Butler: Averted - Van Helsing makes a point to knock every single door in Dracula's castle off its hinges to prevent this.
  • Glamour Failure: Dracula vs. Mirror. Point goes to the mirror.
  • The Golden Rule: Averted, it's another rule the one Igor lives by.

Dracula: Remember, Igor. Do unto others...
Igor: ...Before they do unto me, master.

Carl: Here, take this.
[he hands Van Helsing a bag, then begins to fill it]
Carl: Rings of garlic... holy water... silver stake... crucifix...
[they pass two monks test-firing a Gatling gun]
Van Helsing: Why can't I have one of those?

Minor: Dracula and his brides can all turn into harpy-like humanoid bat creature.
Major: Dracula's demonic form is only fully revealed for the final battle. Its the same as his brides only darker and less human features.

  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Kate Beckinsale's ambiguously Eastern European accent can't seem to hold up for more than a few minutes at a time.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Somewhat, they can shift from monster to human forms and can reproduce. As Helsing states, since they're undead their offspring would be stillborn. Thus the need for energy from a supernatural source (i.e: werewolves or Frankenstein's Monster) to bring them to life.
    • Dracula himself seems to operate under different rules, as he himself can't be killed via a stake through the heart unlike his brides, because he has no heart. Crosses also burst into flame around him, and he can transform into an even bigger batlike demon. His only weakness is the bite of a werewolf.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: When they transform, they can rip the skin of their former human selves as if it were clothes, and can be controled by a vampire if their will power isn't strong enough.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Anna.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Anna at the Masquerade Ball. Deleted scenes show Aleera gets one too.
  • Pivotal Wakeup: Dracula.
  • Portal Picture
  • Prehensile Tail: Dracula's babies have them.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Dracula to Dr. Frankenstein:

"Now that it is, as you put it... A triumph. Of science. OVER GOD!!!!! ..."

"The laws of men mean little to me."

"If you're going to kill someone, kill them - don't stand around talking about it!"

  • This Cannot Be!: Dracula says this at the end.
  • This Was His True Form: Why Van Helsing is considered a murderer by the Muggles.
  • Tin Man: Dracula is a villainous version of this.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Anna and her brother Velkin tend to Leeroy Jenkins when they attack things, such as werewolves, despite knowing if they die their entire family won't be allowed into Heaven. Presumably the Knights realized this, which is why they sent Van Helsing in, in the first place.
    • The Villagers don't fair up much better either. While they give a flimsy justification that the Vampires only attack because they're feeding, taking one or two a month, its a better alternative to them fighting back and killing the vampires, as they'll only come back and slaughter them in revenge. Still, you'd think they'd try to deter them... it'd be very easy to do if they were all armed with bows instead of hatchets and pitchforks. Or more logically, if they resettled their village far away from Dracula's Castle.
  • Transformation Sequence
  • Überwald
  • Unwitting Pawn: Dr. Victor Frankenstein was this to Dracula.
  • Vampire Dance: The dance hall where Drac is holding a fancy dress party is lined with mirrors, making it obvious to Anna that she's basically the only one there with a pulse.
  • Vampire Hunter: Duh.
  • Vampire Monarch: All the vampires and werewolves answer to Dracula, who presumably was the first vampire.
  • Vampire Refugee: Van Helsing gets turned into a werewolf, and is prophesied to kill Drac as a werewolf. Meanwhile, Carl and Anna race to get the antidote to him before the last stroke of midnight, at which time he'll be a permanent werewolf.
  • Vampire-Werewolf Love Triangle: Van Helsing was in the process of becoming a werewolf when Dracula kidnapped his love interest and tried to seduce her.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Played with. Van Helsing can see that Frankenstein's monster is not really evil. The Knights of the Holy Order don't.
  • Vein-O-Vision: The vampires.
  • Viking Funeral: Anna's pyre.
  • Weird Moon: The moon is full for weeks in Transylvania.
    • And apparently waxes and wanes like crazy. After Van Helsing is bitten, Carl tells him that the next full moon is in three days. Repeat - there was a werewolf attack the night prior (meaning that there must have been the full moon), and three days later, it would be full again.
      • They had a travel montage to get somewhere, but not one to get back. While the moon is still weird, this sort of gives an excuse for the "three days later" bit.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Van Helsing must be cured by the last strike of midnight -- fortunately in Transylvania the clocks can take ten minutes to strike midnight.
    • Maybe that has something to do with the moon.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: Van Halen!
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Anna to Aleera in the climax when the latter constantly keep playing with her. Anna calls her out on her stupidity for stalling on killing her after she stakes her.
  • The Worf Effect: Anna by one of the brides repeatedly throughout the movie. She gets even though near the end of the movie.