Van Helsing– or, how many monsters can we fit in one film?

Tonight, I found myself in the company of one of my best friends, Elizabeth. After making a batch of Star Wars cookies made from my William and Sonoma Star Wars cookie cutters, we were puzzling out what we should do next.

Fancy Star Wars cookie cutters are an investment that everyone should make.

While we sat munching on Yoda’s right ear and the left x-foil of an X-wing, the topic turned to bad movies that we still loved. Elizabeth mentioned Van Helsing, a 2004 Stephen Sommers film about a monster killer out to kick some ass, starring Hugh Jackman. I decided I had to see it.

Ladies, step aside.

The plot of the film is as follows:

Hugh Jackman is Van Helsing, an employee of the Vatican to rid the world of evil mother-fucking monsters. The film isn’t rated PG-13 for “Non-stop Creature Action Violence” for nothing. He’s got to fight off Dr. Jeckyll/ Mr. Hyde, Dracula, Igor, Frakenstein, and werewolves. On top of all of those classic universal baddies, Sommers thought it would be a good idea to throw in some ‘brides’ for Dracula, who are really just his harem of Vampire sluts.

Yeah, these girls look legitimate.

Dracula’s sex slaves have, of course, given birth to thousands of babies. But, as Kate Beckinsale’s character Anna reasons, “Since vampires are dead, their children must be born dead.” Great logic, Stephen Sommers. So Dracula’s motus operandi is to somehow bring his children, which are flying bat daemons, to life via the magical power of electricity. 

IT'S ALIVE!!

As Elizabeth reasoned, this film is the product of a slumber party hosted by eleven year old boys. After hours of drinking soda and eating ice cream and playing video games the boys gather around and start talking. “Wouldn’t it be cool,” one says, “if Dracula and Frankenstein and werewolves all fought each other?”

Yes, generic eleven year old boy, it would be cool. If someone else had directed it.

Do not trust this man with your childhood fantasies of giant monsters beating the fuck out of each other.

Between Van Helsing’s ninja stars and the actors’ pathetic attempts at Romanian accents (or any sort of accent that exists on this planet at all), the whole thing starts to feel a little too campy for something that bills itself as serious fare. Richard Roxburgh, who plays Dracula, seems to be the only one in on the joke. He plays his role with such fervor and over-the-top schmaltz that you know he must be joking. Everyone else on the other hand acts like they are starring in Citizen fucking Kane.

Orson Wells he is not.

But somehow, amidst all this tom-foolery, it is impossible to completely hate Van Helsing. There is just something about it, perhaps the inner 11-year-old boy that lives within us all, that just thinks this movie is freaking beast. Sure, its’ attempt at creating a steam-punk, dark, electrifying 1800’s falls short. The plot is thin at best and the screenplay is one of the worst I’ve ever witnessed. But damn, when the werewolf kicked the shit out of Dracula– that was cool, man.

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