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Feature: Previews 2004

Hughy, the Vampire Slayer

Vampires beware

The latest in a long line of Supernatural adaptations sees Hugh Jackman take the lead as the vampire hunter Van Helsing. We went behind the scenes…

Loosely based on Bram Stoker’s vampire hunter, Van Helsing is set in the late 19th Century and follows the adventures of monster hunter Dr Van Helsing, played by Hugh Jackman, whose foes in this Universal picture include Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man!

For Van Helsing’s producer, Bob Ducsay, the film’s almost a natural extension of director Stephen Sommers’ Mummy films. “Because Steve is with Universal, obviously what he’s most known for is The Mummy films and [the] studio was built on these classic monsters. That was the origin of the idea. What Stephen was really looking for was an organic way to bring these three monsters together, and at the same time make the picture in a way that he would make it, which is to have an adventurous tone and kick-ass protagonist. Van Helsing just seemed like a good idea.”

But director Sommers insists that he “didn’t want this to be The Mummy 3, just with different monsters. It has a very different tone to it. It’s a very different story. I just love the characters. I went into this saying, ‘There are no monsters, just people with really bad problems.’ Van Helsing has some bad problems, Princess Anne [Kate Beckinsale] has some bad problems, this guy Frankenstein, he has real bad problems. The Wolf Man’s a wreck. But they’re all Humans. Frankenstein is a man – well, he’s seven men, but he’s still Human. So it’s not like there are any aliens in the movie.”

Hugh Jackman wanted his character to be more than what’s seen in the book. “Van Helsing is more than a vampire slayer. The main story involves him hunting down Dracula. He’s kind of doing work for the Catholic Church. Imagine, if you will, someone who is possessed or an exorcism fails: what do they do with that possessed person, whether it’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or Frankenstein? All these mythological creatures are on the loose. Van Helsing is sent out to take care of them. He’s a warrior by nature of the job, lonely and mysterious and almost a spy. In many ways he is misunderstood by the world, and he is operating on his own steam and no one really knows who he is, except by what he leaves in his wake.”

But Jackman notes that Van Helsing has something in common with the monsters he’s hunting. “He’s got some personal issues, but I don’t want to get into that too much, because I will have to give the game away. But he’s an enigmatic character and is still trying to work out what drives him. It’s also fair to say that in the beginning of this movie he’s a little lacking in motivation. He’s trying to understand why he’s doing it and it’s taking its toll on him, the killing.”

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Film Review (Mar)

Photo © Universal Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Film Review (Mar), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Mar)
#641, March 2004
ships from Jan 29 2004
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