Van Helsing is a 2004 American action/horror film about vampire hunter Gabriel Van Helsing, written and directed by Stephen Sommers. The film stars Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale. The film opened on May 7, 2004.
Based on a version of the character of Abraham Van Helsing from Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, the film also incorporates characters from other works such as the film The Wolf Man into the narrative, and draws particularly on literary classics of the gothic horror canon such as Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.
Van Helsing and Anna escape but fall into an underground cavern, discovering the Monster hiding from Dracula. Anna suggests killing the Monster, but Van Helsing decides to take him to Rome to protect him from Dracula. Picking up Carl, the group (Van Helsing, Anna, Carl and the Monster) head off in horse-drawn carriages. However, the remaining brides and the Velkan werewolf chase after them. The carriage falls down a ravine, the brides pursuing it but discovering it is a decoy with a box of stakes inside. The carriage hits the ground and explodes, catapulting the stakes in all directions, some of which impale Verona and kill her. The real carriage containing the group nearly gets away, but the werewolf appears, setting the carriage on fire. Van Helsing fires his shotguns on the werewolf and kills him. Anna finds Velkan shortly before he dies; she also discovers Van Helsing was bitten in the process and will become a werewolf. Anna is then kidnapped by Aleera, who bargains with Anna for the Monster. Instead, Van Helsing knocks the Monster out and places him in a tomb to keep him from being stolen. Van Helsing and Carl sneak into Dracula's summer palace where a ball is occuring. Van Helsing rescues Anna from being bitten, but discovers the Monster has been captured by the undead, who are then sent after Van Helsing and the others. The undead are destroyed by a weapon created by Carl that releases a bright exploding lightsource.
The trio returns to Anna's castle and piece together that Dracula was killed in the 1400's, made a deal with the Devil and became a vampire; Dracula is actually the son of Anna's ancestor; and the only way to kill Dracula is by using a werewolf. The group then discover the door to Dracula's lair: a large map owned by Anna's deceased father. A missing piece is in the possession of Van Helsing, who received it from the Vatican priest. The three travel through the door and find an icy fortress: Dracula's lair.
Inside, Van Helsing sees the Monster, who explains that Dracula has a werewolf cure. Anna and Carl force a captured Igor to take them to the cure, but are attacked by Aleera. Carl heads off with the cure to find Van Helsing, who must kill Dracula and receive the cure before the final stroke of midnight, or he will permanently become a werewolf. Carl is pursued by Igor, who attacks him with a tazer-like weapon. Van Helsing manages to free the Monster but not before Dracula's children are brought to life. Dracula attacks Van Helsing, transforming into a demonic winged vampire. The Monster falls off a tower and is propelled through the air on a wire, which collides with Igor, sending him plummeting down a ravine to his demise. The Monster distracts Aleera, allowing Anna to escape. However, this distraction lasts for only so long when Aleera confronts Anna. Anna stabs Aleera with a concealed stake, killing her. Van Helsing, transformed into a werewolf, fights Dracula until the full moon is blocked out by clouds. Dracula takes this opportunity to reveal that Van Helsing is the Left Hand of God, another name for Gabriel, and it was he who killed him in the 1400s. Dracula attempts to get Van Helsing to be his partner. Van Helsing refuses, returns to werewolf form when the moon comes out again, and kills Dracula by biting his neck. Dracula and his children all die. Anna rushes in with the cure, after receiving it from Carl, and races to save Van Helsing, but he attacks and kills her in werewolf form. However, she has managed to inject him with the cure. Restored to humanity, he holds her body in his arms.
Van Helsing and Carl cremate Anna's body by the ocean shore, honoring Anna's unfulfilled desire to see the ocean. Van Helsing briefly sees a vision of Anna and her family in Heaven, before he and Carl head off back to Rome. The Monster, having survived, rows off on a raft to an unknown future.
Van Helsing pays homage to many Classic Universal monster films, essentially the ones involving Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, and the Wolf Man. The most obvious homage is the opening scene, which harks back to the original Frankenstein movie. Here is a list of other classic scenes in the movie.
The DVD was released on October 19, 2004. Sommers expanded the story of Van Helsing in two direct spin-offs. The animated prequel titled Van Helsing: The London Assignment takes place before the main events of the film, focusing on Van Helsing's mission to try to end a Jack the Ripper-style murderer, who turns out to be Mr. Hyde, from terrorizing London. There was also a one-issue comic book titled Van Helsing: From Beneath the Rue Morgue, that follows Van Helsing on a self-contained adventure that occurs during the events of the film, just after the death of Jekyll/Hyde in Paris but before Van Helsing returned to Rome. In the adventure, Van Helsing deals with Doctor Moreau and his hybrid mutants.
A spin-off television series, titled Transylvania, was planned, using the film's village sets, but due to poor US box-office, critical panning and a considerable budget for each episode, the series' status is currently unknown. The series was to be set in the same period as the film, and was reportedly to focus on the story of a Texas cowboy who becomes sheriff in a Transylvanian village, where he must keep the peace between two warring families with some "monstrous genes". Sommers wrote the plot and supervised six episode scripts.
Vivendi Universal Games also 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 and Richard Roxburgh. Lavastorm Entertainment produced a mobile game that followed the plot of the movie, but was poorly received.
A direct to DVD sequel was hinted in 2007. It will likely have an all new cast and a lower budget than the previous film. The sequel has been rumored to star Julian McMahon of Charmed and Fantastic Four fame. Rumors have also indicated that The Invisible Man and The Creature from the Black Lagoon would be the villains/monsters. All rumors of a sequel have since been reportedly debunked. On July 8, 2008, the film was re-released on a 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD set.