Van Helsing (film)

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Van Helsing
Van Helsing poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Sommers
Produced by
Written byStephen Sommers
Based on
Music byAlan Silvestri
CinematographyAllen Daviau
Edited by
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • May 7, 2004 (2004-05-07)
Running time
131 minutes
CountriesUnited States[1]
Czech Republic[2]
Budget$160–170 million[3][4]
Box office$300.2 million[3]

Van Helsing is a 2004 American action gothic horror film written and directed by Stephen Sommers. It stars Hugh Jackman as monster hunter Van Helsing, and Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious. The film is a homage and tribute to the Universal Horror Monster films from the 1930s and 1940s (also produced by Universal Studios which were in turn based on novels by Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley), of which Sommers is a fan.

The eponymous character was inspired by the Dutch vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing from Irish author Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Distributed by Universal Pictures, the film includes a number of monsters such as Count Dracula (and other vampires), Frankenstein's monster, Duergar, Mr. Hyde and werewolves in a way similar to the multi-monster movies that Universal produced in the 1940s, such as Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula.

Despite mostly negative reviews, the film grossed over $300 million worldwide.


In 1887, Transylvania, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, with help from his assistant Igor and Count Dracula, successfully creates a monster. Dracula, a vampire, kills Frankenstein to use the creature for his own purposes. As an angry mob storms Castle Frankenstein, the monster flees to a windmill with his dead creator. The mob burn down the windmill, apparently destroying the monster.

One year later, monster hunter Van Helsing kills Mr. Hyde after a brawl in Notre-Dame de Paris. Van Helsing suffers from amnesia, slaying evil on behalf of the Vatican City, hoping that he will earn redemption for forgotten sins. He is tasked by Cardinal Jinette to go to Transylvania and destroy Dracula. He must also protect the last members of an ancient Romanian family, the Valerious, whose ancestor vowed that his descendants would kill Dracula, or fall into Purgatory. He receives a torn parchment, reading "In the name of God, open this door" in Latin.

Van Helsing travels to Transylvania, accompanied by Carl, an eccentric friar and inventor. Anna and Velkan Valerious attempt to kill a werewolf controlled by Dracula, but both it and Velkan fall into a river. Van Helsing and Carl arrive in a village, where they and Anna are attacked by Dracula's three brides – Verona, Marishka, and Aleera. Van Helsing slays Marishka. Anna agrees to work with Van Helsing, but encounters Velkan, now cursed to become a werewolf during a full moon.

The two follow Velkan to Castle Frankenstein, now used by Dracula in an attempt to duplicate Dr. Frankenstein's experiments to give life to his undead children, using Velkan as a conduit. While Anna tries to rescue Velkan, who succumbs to his curse, Van Helsing confronts Dracula, who expresses familiarity with Van Helsing, addressing him as "Gabriel" and offering to return his memories to him. Van Helsing and Anna flee the castle, Dracula discovering that his experiment has failed. Carl witnesses a painting come to life, depicting two knights respectively transforming into a vampire and a werewolf.

Van Helsing and Anna reach a deep cave below the destroyed windmill, where they meet Frankenstein's monster, who is the true key to fulfilling Dracula's plans. Van Helsing opts to shelter the monster in the Vatican. Just outside Budapest, the group are ambushed by the brides and Velkan. Verona and Velkan are both killed, but not before the latter bites Van Helsing, cursing him to become a werewolf. Anna is kidnapped by Aleera, who arranges with Van Helsing to trade her for the monster. Van Helsing locks the monster within a crypt, but he is captured by Dracula's undead horde. Van Helsing and Carl save Anna, destroying the vampires with a light-emitting bomb created earlier by Carl.

Returning to the Valerious family's castle, Carl explains that Dracula is, in fact, the son of Anna's ancestor, imprisoned within an icy fortress, hidden behind a large walled map of Transylvania. Using the torn parchment, Van Helsing opens the portal, finding Dracula's fortress. The captured monster informs Van Helsing that Dracula possesses a cure for lycanthropy; Carl realizes that only a werewolf can kill Dracula. Capturing Igor, Van Helsing sends him, Anna, and Carl to retrieve the cure, while he frees the monster. As he does so, the monster is struck by lighting twice, bringing Dracula's children to life. Dracula, spotting Van Helsing, transforms into a demonic form, fighting Van Helsing in werewolf form. Aleera and Igor are both killed as Anna and Carl retrieve the cure. Following a fierce skirmish, Dracula then reveals to Van Helsing that it was he who murdered him 450 years earlier. Dracula offers to restore all of Van Helsing's memories, but he declines, stating that some things are better left forgotten. Eventually, Van Helsing kills him and his children by biting Dracula's throat, but accidentally kills Anna as she delivers the cure.

Van Helsing and Carl host a funeral for Anna on a cliff overlooking the sea, where the monster departs by raft, and Van Helsing witnesses Anna's spirit reuniting with her family in Heaven, freed of their vow. Together, Van Helsing and Carl ride off on their next adventure.



Van Helsing: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedMay 4, 2004
LabelDecca Records
ProducerAlan Silvestri, David Bifano

The film's original soundtrack was composed by Alan Silvestri.


Video game[edit]

Vivendi Universal Games published a Van Helsing video game for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Game Boy Advance. The game follows a similar plot to the movie, has gameplay similar to Devil May Cry and the PS2 and Xbox versions feature the voice talent of many of the actors including Hugh Jackman.

Slot games[edit]

Van Helsing also features in a slot game produced by International Game Technology. The game is available in real world casinos and online, though users in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the US are excluded from playing the online games.[5]


Box office[edit]

The film earned $51 million at #1 during the opening weekend of May 7–9, 2004. The film eventually grossed US$300,257,475 worldwide, of which US$120,177,084 was from the US.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Van Helsing received mostly negative reviews by critics.[6] Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 24% of 226 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4.28/10. The site's consensus calls the film a "hollow creature feature that suffers from CGI overload."[7] Metacritic rated it 35/100 based on 38 reviews.[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[9] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave an extremely negative review, rating the film half a star out of four and calling it "the worst would-be summer blockbuster since Battlefield Earth". Furthermore, he wrote "There are quite a few unintentionally funny moments, although the overall experience was too intensely painful for me to be able to advocate it as being "so bad, it's good." ... Some, however, will doubtless view it as such. More power to them, since sitting through this movie requires something more than a strong constitution and a capacity for self-torture."[10]

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle greatly disliked the film, writing: "Writer-director Stephen Sommers (...) throws together plot strains from various horror movies and stories and tries to muscle things along with flash and dazzle. But his film just lies there, weighted down by a complete lack of wit, artfulness and internal logic. ... What Sommers tries to do here is use action as the only means of involving an audience. So story is sacrificed. Character development is nonexistent, and there are no attempts to incite emotion. Instead, Sommers tries to hold an audience for two hours with nothing up his sleeve but colored ribbons, bright sparklers and a kazoo. What he proves is that this is no way to make movies."[11] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film 3 stars out of 4 stating that "At the outset, we may fear Sommers is simply going for f/x overkill, but by the end, he has somehow succeeded in assembling all his monsters and plot threads into a high-voltage climax. Van Helsing is silly, spectacular and fun."[12]


Award Subject Nominee Result
Saturn Award Best Horror Film Nominated[13]
Best Costume Design Gabriella Pescucci, Carlo Poggioli
Best Make-Up Greg Cannom, Steve LaPorte
Best Special Effects Scott Squires, Ben Snow, Daniel Jeannette, Syd Dutton
Best Music Alan Silvestri Won[14]
Visual Effects Society Outstanding Special Effects in Service to Visual Effects in a Motion Picture Geoff Heron, Chad Taylor Nominated[15]
Stinkers Bad Movie Awards Worst Film Nominated
Worst Actress Kate Beckinsale
Worst Female Fake Accent
Worst Male Fake Accent Richard Roxburgh Won[16]


Sommers expanded the story of Van Helsing in two direct spin-offs:


In May 2012, Universal Pictures announced that they would be rebooting the film with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci as a two-year deal to produce a modern reimagining and Tom Cruise to star as the title character and also produce the film.[17][18] In October 2018, Rupert Sanders entered early negotiations to direct the film.[19] By November 2015, Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer signed onto the project as co-screenwriters, though Cruise left his role with the film.[20] However, in 2016, Cruise was cast to appear in Kurtzman's The Mummy, which was released in theaters on June 9, 2017.[21] Following the poor critical and financial reception to the film, Universal restructured their plan for rebooted adaptations of their Classic Monsters to be stand-alone in nature.[22]

By December 2020, it was announced that the reboot was back in development. Julius Avery will serve as director, in addition to doing a rewrite of an original script by Eric Pearson. James Wan will serve as producer. The project will be a joint-production venture between Universal Pictures and Atomic Monster Productions.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Van Helsing (2004)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
  2. ^ a b "Van Helsing". (in Czech). Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Van Helsing". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  4. ^ "Van Helsing (2004)". The Numbers. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  5. ^ "IGT Slots Blocked Territories". Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  6. ^ Wloszczyna, Susan (2004-05-10). "Marketing goes to heroic measures". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
  7. ^ "Van Helsing". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  8. ^ "Van Helsing". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
  9. ^ "CinemaScore".
  10. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Van Helsing". ReelViews. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  11. ^ LaSalle, Mick (May 7, 2004). "'Van Helsing' a monstrosity of a movie". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 7, 2004). "Van Helsing". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  13. ^ "NOMINATIONS FOR 31ST ANNUAL SATURN AWARDS ANNOUNCED". Film Threat. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  14. ^ ""Spider-man 2" Big Winner at the 31st Annual Saturn Awards". Saturn Awards. Archived from the original on 2005-07-25. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (2005-01-10). "Spidey pic catches 6 f/x noms from VES". Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  16. ^ "Stinkers Bad Movie Awards - 2004". The Stinkers. Archived from the original on 4 May 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  17. ^ Kroll, Justin (2012-05-02). "Orci, Kurtzman sign two-year Universal deal". Variety. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  18. ^ "Universal Signs Kurtzman and Orci; Pair Takes On 'The Mummy' and 'Van Helsing'". 1 May 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  19. ^ "BREAKING: Rupert Sanders Circling Universal's Tom Cruise-Starring VAN HELSING". Twich. 2012-10-10. Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  20. ^ Kroll, Justin (November 14, 2015). "Universal's 'Van Helsing' Reboot Enlists Scribes Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  21. ^ Kroll, Justin (November 11, 2015). "Universal's 'Van Helsing' Reboot Enlists Scribes Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  22. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 25, 2019). "'Invisible Man' Finds Director, Sets New Course for Universal's Monster Legacy (EXCLUSIVE)".
  23. ^ Kroll, Justin (December 1, 2020). "Universal And James Wan Tap 'Overlord' Director Julius Avery To Direct New 'Van Helsing' Movie". Deadline. Retrieved December 1, 2020.

External links[edit]