We continue down into the depths of Empire’s 25 worst films.
I remember going to see Van Helsing when it came out. I was primed to love it. It was, after all, by the guy who made The Mummy, and starred Hugh Jackman. What could go wrong? The answer, it turns out, is pretty much everything.
We start out with some shenanigans between Dr Frankenstein and Dracula, who has been funding Frankenstein’s work. Well, you know what patrons are like. One minute you’re being enabled to achieve your life’s dreams, next you’re so enraged that you throw your sponsor into a fire. Samuel Johnson would approve.
Then we jump to Paris, where Van Helsing is trying to stop Mr Hyde, who is swinging around Notre Dame like a French King Kong. Van Helsing kills him by throwing him through the famous Rose Window, which rightly earns him a telling off when he goes back to the Vatican to report. He’s sent off to Transylvania to protect a brother and sister who fight evil (sadly they didn’t turn out to be Hansel and Gretel). By the time he arrives the brother has been bitten by a werewolf, leaving the sister to welcome him in one of the tightest corsets to grace a mainstream film in recent years.
Dracula’s brides raid the town and Van Helsing shoots a lot of things. Apparently they had fully automatic crossbows in the nineteenth century. Then we get to a long section which alternates boring exposition with fighting. Feel free to skip this. You could get the film down to less than half its current length. Anyway, it turns out that Dracula wants to bring his children to life. No-one else wants this. Lots of people/things get shot/punched/electrocuted. Everyone either dies or goes off nobly into the sunset. I think that Van Helsing was meant to be the Angel Gabriel, but by that point, I didn’t care. They could have said he was the Dalai Lama and I would have been fine with it if it meant the film ended five minutes sooner.
On the plus side, I have to admit, Hugh Jackman sports the most amazing mullet. Resist that if you can.