Van Helsing

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Action/Adventure//Mystery/Thriller, USA, 2004, 145 min.

Tagline The One Name They All Fear

Synopsis Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) has been ordered by the Vatican to search out and destroy Count Vladislaus Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), an assignment that doesn't make Van Helsing very happy. He is tired of killing monsters for the Church, only to be branded by the public as a murderer with a price on his head. He also wishes that he had back his memories, something that was taken away from him due to his previous sins. Cardinal Jinette (Alun Armstrong) explains that this assignment is important because, 450 years ago, a Transylvanian knight named Valerius the Elder promised God that his family would never rest nor enter heaven until they vanquished Dracula. However, Dracula still lives, but only two of Valerius' descendents -- Princess Anna (Kate Beckinsale) and Prince Velkan (Will Kemp) -- remain. The Valerius family is running out of time, and the Church is committed to saving their souls. So, armed with only a scrap of a picture, rings of garlic, holy water, a silver stake, a crucifix, an automatic crossbow, and Friar Carl (David Wenham), the Q of the Vatican, Van Helsing takes off for Transylvania.Van Helsing's arrival in Transylvania is not well met, as Transylvanians don't like strangers. As Princess Anna challenges their business there, Van Helsing notices three harpies flying towards them. They are Dracula's three brides -- Aleera (Elena Anaya), Marishka (Josie Maran), and Verona (Silvia Colloca). It's obvious that they are trying to nab Anna. In fact, they succeed in carrying her off several times, but Van Helsing manages to get her back. He finally destroys Marishka by dipping his crossbow in holy water before shooting her with a dart. Oddly, the villagers are angry with Van Helsing for killing Marishka. They explain that the vampires only kill one or two a month to satisfy their needs. Now, thanks to him, they will kill more out of revenge.Dracula isn't happy about it either. Not only is he now short one bride, but a year ago, after setting up Victor Frankenstein (Samuel West) with his own laboratory, the villagers set Frankenstein's monster on fire, and Dracula needed the Monster in order to give life to his offspring (Dracula's children are born dead and must be animated). Then, just a few days ago, Velkan Valerius destroyed Dracula's werewolf with a silver bullet, although it cost Velkan his life when the werewolf grabbed him just before he fell over a steep cliff.Grateful that Van Helsing saved her life and destroyed Marishka, Anna takes Van Helsing and Carl back to the castle where the Valerius family has lived for hundreds of years following Dracula's human death. That evening, Anna wants to go out vampire hunting, but Van Helsing, preferring to wait until daylight, sprays her with knockout spray. When Anna later awakens, the halls are dark and Van Helsing is nowhere to be found. Still, someone is there. It's a werewolf, but not just any werewolf. It's her brother, Velkan. Apparently, Velkan was bitten by the werewolf on the way down, survived the fall, and now he is a werewolf, too. When the moon suddenly goes behind a cloud, Velkan changes from werewolf back to himself just long enough to warn Anna. Then the moon comes out, and he changes back into a werewolf and lunges at her. Van Helsing appears and fires a shot at Velkan, but he leaps out the window. Van Helsing follows. Just when Van Helsing gets a clear shot at Velkan, Anna stops him to let him know that Dracula supposedly has a cure for werewolfism. Van Helsing agrees to help Anna look for the antidote and try to save her brother.Velkan's trail leads them to Castle Frankenstein where Dracula, Igor (Kevin J. O'Connor), and the Dwergi [ugly little creatures that work for Dracula] have strapped Velkan to Dr Frankenstein's machine and are trying to harness his life energy to animate Dracula's babies. Lightning strikes and Velkan's lifeforce flows into the baby vampires who start to hatch. Thousands of them. Van Helsing starts shooting at them. Dracula gets really mad and starts attacking Van Helsing. Van Helsing stabs Dracula with the silver stake, but it doesn't work. (The stake needs to be made of wood.) Aleera, Verona, and the babies fly into the village so that the brides can teach the babies how to feed. Suddenly, all the vampire babies start to explode. The animation hasn't been successful.Dracula orders Velkan to kill Van Helsing and Anna. In their escape from Castle Frankenstein, Anna and Van Helsing fall into a subterranean cave where the Frankenstein monster (Shuler Hensley) has been hiding. Van Helsing shoots him with a tranquilizer dart but refuses to kill him because he can sense that the Monster is not evil (Van Helsing will only kill evil beings). Before he passes out, the Monster explains that he is the key to Dracula's research, that he is the one thing that Dracula needs in order to bring life to his brood. Even though the last hatchlings died, Dracula has thousands more waiting birth, he says.Suddenly, they notice that they are being watched by Velkan. Knowing that Dracula will soon know their whereabouts, Van Helsing tries to take the Frankenstein monster back to Rome for protection, but they are attacked by Verona, Aleera, and Velkan. Van Helsing destroys Verona and gets a silver bullet into Velkan, who later dies in Anna's arms. Unfortunately, Velkan also managed to bite Van Helsing. Aleera picks up Anna and flies her back to Dracula while Van Helsing, Carl, and the Monster are forced to walk. They meet up with Aleera again in Budapest. She invites them to a Halloween masquerade ball during which they can trade the Monster for Anna. Van Helsing tranquilizes the Monster and locks him in a church while he and Carl go to the ball.At the ball, while Dracula dances with Anna, he tries to talk her into becoming his bride, but Anna will have none of it. Van Helsing rescues Anna, but their escape is thwarted when Igor triumphantly brings in the Frankenstein monster. Everyone at the ball turns into vampires and goes after Van Helsing, Carl, and Anna, forcing them to jump out a window. By the time Van Helsing, Anna, and Carl get back to Transylvania, Dracula has cleared out of Castle Frankenstein and no one knows where. They go to the library where Carl has done a bit of research and discovered that Dracula is really the son of Valerius the Elder. The whole problem started when Dracula was murdered in 1462 by "the left hand of God." When he died, Dracula made a covenant with the Devil and was given a new life that could only be sustained by drinking blood. That's when Valerius the Elder went to Rome and bargained away his family's right to enter heaven until he killed Dracula. Dracula being his son, however, Valerius was unable to kill him, so he banished him to an icy fortress through a door with no means of escape...until the devil gave wings to Dracula. So where is this door?Anna reveals that her father spent hours staring at a particular picture. Perhaps that picture holds the key to the door? On the door is an inscription in Latin which Carl tries to read but cannot finish because a piece is missing. Van Helsing remembers the scrap of picture that Cardinal Jinette gave him before he left Rome. Sure enough, it fits. When they read the inscription aloud, the picture changes into a mirror which allows them to walk through into the snowy fortress which is Dracula's true castle. They enter a long hallway in which the ceiling and walls are lined with pods containing vampire offspring waiting to be animated. They also see the Frankenstein monster encased in a block of ice with only his head sticking out. The Monster sees Van Helsing and tells him that Dracula DOES have a cure for werewolfism. Van Helsing wonders why Dracula would have an antidote. Carl remembers seeing another painting that showed a werewolf killing a vampire. Now it all becomes clear. Only a werewolf can kill Dracula, and Van Helsing is scheduled to turn into one tonight at the stroke of midnight. The plan is to let Van Helsing transform and kill Dracula, and then Anna and Carl can inject him with the antidote at the last minute.While Van Helsing goes in search of Dracula, Anna and Carl force Igor to lead them to the antidote. Igor shows them a syringe stored in a jar of viscous liquid. Indeed, it is the antidote, but before they can retrieve it, Igor locks them in the room. Aleera suddenly appears. Anna tosses the jar at her. It crashes on the floor, and the splash burns Aleera's face. Anna tosses more of the liquid at the bars on the door, and it eats through them. While Anna keeps Aleera busy, Carl takes the antidote and goes looking for Van Helsing. Van Helsing has discovered Dracula's laboratory. The Frankenstein monster has been hoisted to the roof, and Dracula is attempting to drain his life into his infants. Van Helsing makes his way to the roof, but before the Monster can be freed, lightning strikes and sends his lifeforce down through the infant nursery. The baby vampires begin to awaken.Just as the Frankenstein Monster gets free, Dracula changes into a bat and attacks Van Helsing. The Monster is struck again by a bolt of lightning that sends him flying over the edge of the roof. On his way down, he manages to grab onto a cable and knock Igor off the bridge where he's been chasing Carl with a cattle prod. The Monster swings through a window into the room where Anna and Aleera are fighting. As the Monster holds Aleera at bay, Anna uses the cable to swing back to the laboratory. On the way, Carl tosses her the antidote. Aleera catches up with Anna. While Aleera gloats about how she's going to drink Anna's blood, Anna grabs a spike and thrusts it through Aleera's heart.Just then the clock strikes midnight. Van Helsing changes into a werewolf and attacks Dracula. Just as Van Helsing has Dracula by the throat, the moon goes behind a cloud and Van Helsing changes back into himself. Dracula takes this moment to inform Van Helsing that it was he (Van Helsing) who murdered Dracula back in 1462. Suddenly, the moon comes back out. Van Helsing turns into a werewolf again and chews up Dracula's neck. Dracula crumbles into dust as do all of his baby vampires (once Dracula is destroyed, all his creations are also destroyed). At that moment, Anna runs into the room with the antidote. Van Helsing leaps at her. Carl also arrives and opens the silver stake, ready to plunge it into Van Helsing. But Anna was successful. She injected the antidote into Van Helsing just before she died, and Van Helsing is returning to himself.Van Helsing and Carl hold a cremation for Anna at sea. He sees her spirit in the sky alongwith those of her ancestors. She smiles and realises that she is at peace and with her family. Heading out to sea in hopes of a sanctuary, we see Frankenstein's Monster on a raft looking towards the flaming beacon and the two heroes.

Directed by Stephen Sommers  

Starring Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Shuler Hensley, more...

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