Not to be confused with the Hugh Jackman film of the same name, this Van Helsing, originally titled Wrath of Van helsing, is a British film from producer Scott Jeffrey and his Jagged Edge Productions. And regular readers of this site will know what that means.
Four English lasses Ellie (Antonia Willhans, The Curse of Humpty Dumpty, The Legend of Jack and Jill), Briony (Elspeth Foster, Amityville Scarecrow 2), Alex (Beatrice Fletcher, Beneath the Surface, Blood in the Water), and Shauna (Abi Casson Thompson, Spider in the Attic, Exorcist Vengeance).are going hiking.
And where you may ask are they going hiking in fishnet stockings and thigh-high boots? The Zone, which they must have thought was a goth club. Actually, it’s a fenced-off nuclear dumping ground, England’s answer to Chernobyl. And not only is it fenced off, but there’s also garlic on the road into it. So it’s no surprise when they get attacked by hooded, neck-bitting creatures.
Meanwhile, Ellie’s parents are meeting with a man named, seriously, Igor (Darrell Griggs, Reign of Chaos, Looks Can Kill). It seems she’s gone missing, and he knows this guy named Van Helsing (Michael Hoad, The Gardener, Hellkat) who can help.
If this all sounds like utter crap you’re close to correct. Van Helsing is quite funny at times but I’m not sure if that was intentional or not. I’d like to believe that writer Tom Jolliffe (Jurassic Island, Witches of Amityville Academy) wasn’t being serious when he came up with this mashup of nuclear waste and demons. And some of the dialogue certainly seems to be too absurd not to be a parody.
Director Soner Metin who was the second unit director on The Gardener makes his directorial debut here and he can’t be blamed for all of Van Helsing’s problems such as underground tunnels with windows that let in bright sunlight. But he could have said something about the characters using their flashlights as they walk through them. Or the demon mask that looks impressive until you realize you can see where it ends and the actor’s neck begins.
As for the film’s titular hero, this version of Van Helsing has cut a deal with the devil for immortality so he can avenge the death of his family at the hands and fangs of a pack of vampires. Since they’re supposed to be creatures of evil that don’t make a lot of sense, but this is a movie where underground tunnels have windows.
While this Van Helsing has nothing in common with Peter Cushing’s definitive version of the character he does have something in common with Hugh Jackman’s. They both use a crossbow, only Jackman had a steam-powered one with full-automatic fire and Hoad has a mini one that you can buy for twenty bucks at the same flea market the demon’s leather jacket came from.
While it’s certainly not a good film, Van Helsing is good for a few laughs and it’s not as deadly dull as the worst of Jeffrey’s output. But it does suffer from the usual weak action scenes and obviously plastic knives and swords that never seem to get blood on them as in his other films with the exception of The Gardener.
If you like your women on the Hot Topic Goth side, or you and your buddies need something to rip apart over a few beers, Van Helsing might be worth your time, But there’s really no other reason to waste your time or brain cells on it.