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In writer-director Stephen Sommers' hands, Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolf Man and others are effectively reborn as dynamic heirs to the traditions handed down by the filmmakers of the classic Universal monster pictures. Honoring their legacy while propelling them into the next generation of cinema, Sommers turns what was once classic into cutting edge. Into this world, brought to life and played out on massive sets and sweeping locations, Sommers brings Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), the legendary monster hunter born in the pages of Bram Stoker's Dracula. In his ongoing battle to rid the world of its fiendish creatures, Van Helsing, on order of a secret society, travels to Transylvania to bring down the lethally seductive, enigmatically powerful Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) and joins forces with the fearless Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), out to rid her family of a generations-old curse by defeating the vampire. Also populating Sommers dense canvas are: Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley as Dr. Frankenstein's misunderstood monster; former Matthew Bourne company leading dancer Will Kemp as Velkan, Anna's stalwart brother who transforms under the full moon into the Wolf Man; Kevin J. O'Connor as Dr. Frankenstein's loyal yet treacherous assistant, Igor; David Wenham as Carl, a friar entrusted with ensuring Van Helsing's safe return; and Elena Anaya, Silvia Colloca and Josie Maran as Dracula's three bloodthirsty brides who will stop at nothing to help their master in his plan to subvert human civilisation and rule over a world of havoc, fear and darkness.
VAN HELSING: The character Van Helsing was first introduced to the world in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) and made his auspicious film debut in 1931, in Universal Pictures' Dracula. Part philosopher, part historian, part occultist, Van Helsing was called to help solve the mysterious, nocturnal deaths of several beautiful young women in Victorian England. Van Helsing's intuition proved correct when he revealed the killer to be a vampire, none other than Count Dracula, whom Van Helsing pursued back to his Transylvanian home at the novel's climax. In Van Helsing, Dracula's original nemesis has evolved to become the world's most infamous monster hunter. Working on behalf of a beneficent coalition out to rid the world of evil, Van Helsing is now charged with tracking and destroying the demons of the world in all their variety. Traveling to distant lands to vanquish his foes, Van Helsing discovers he has something in common with the creatures he hunts--eventually realising he must confront the demons of his own past.
ANNA VALERIOUS: Informed of her reputation of a monster hunter in her own right, Van Helsing seeks out Princess Anna Valerious of Transylvania. Far from a damsel in distress, Anna Valerious is the last living member of an ancient family committed to the pursuit and destruction of Dracula. With the recent apparent death of her brother, Velkan, it falls to Anna to face Dracula, and she reluctantly joins forces with Van Helsing to accomplish the deed.
DRACULA: Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula, first introduced Western audiences to the image of the "vampire" (a person doomed to a gruesome form of eternal half-life by drinking the blood of the living). By enhancing the vague, somewhat contradictory picture of the vampire that had already emerged from 19th Century literature and European folklore, Stoker created a fascinating, satisfying, powerful and sexually alluring character whose vampiric life soon assumed mythic status in popular culture. The 1931 Universal Pictures film Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, was even more instrumental in reshaping the vampire's image. The movie reached millions with its new, "modern" Dracula--a suave, mysterious aristocrat with a pronounced Hungarian accent. For many, Lugosi's representation of the Stoker character will forever personify the image of Dracula. In Sommers' vision, the fiend doomed to walk the night becomes an insurmountable ruler of darkness with the ability to transform himself (via the latest in visual effects) into a terrifying, winged creature that tyrannises the night sky over Transylvania.
FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER: Whether from the pages of Mary Shelley's novel or in the original 1931 Universal Pictures film Frankenstein, people have always been fascinated with the tale of Victor Frankenstein and his tragic creation. A brilliant and driven scientist, Dr. Frankenstein found a way to re-create life... from the body parts of freshly exhumed corpses. Although proud of his scientific discoveries, Frankenstein was unable to accept the humanity of the "monster" he'd created; the doctor turned his back on his creation and in return, the creature sought revenge, becoming the Frankenstein Monster we know today. In Van Helsing, while Stephen Sommers embraces the original Frankenstein character and story, he also expands on the earlier cinematic portrayal--indelibly rendered by the combination of Boris Karloff's memorable performance and Jack P. Pierce's iconic make-up. Sommers presents the monster as a sympathetic, misunderstood being, yet propels the creature into unforeseen directions through inventive new narrative. Sommer's Monster takes the classic, archetypal creation of Shelley as its starting point, uses Karloff's version as inspiration and brings them vividly alive for 21st Century audiences--the remarkable and unique offspring of tradition and re-invention.
THE WOLF MAN: Like the vampire, the legend of the werewolf is ancient and grounded in the folklore of people throughout the world. By definition, a werewolf is a human being afflicted by an ancient curse that causes the person to change horrifically into a vicious, wolf-like creature upon the rise of the full moon. In The Wolf Man (1941), Lon Chaney became the first actor to play the title role with a mixture of sympathy and horror, showing the werewolf as a man afflicted, fighting against his wolf nature whenever it emerged. Through the artistry and permanence of Universal's seminal 1941 film, the concept of the werewolf--at that time the result of collective myth and legend with multiple literary bases--was firmly established as a character, a man/beast with unique powers within conventions drawn from lore: The Wolf Man. In Van Helsing, Anna Valerious' stalwart brother Velkan becomes an unwitting victim of the curse when Anna and Velkan's plan to catch a werewolf goes catastrophically awry. Through a startling re-conception of the man-to-wolf metamorphosis, Velkan's transformation viscerally and explicitly reveals the beast emerging from inside the man in a way never seen before onscreen.
DRACULA'S BRIDES: Vampire "brides" is an accepted term that refers to the seductive hold believed to exist between the vampire and his victims (typically a group of young women). The idea of Dracula's brides emphasises the sexual nature of the vampire's link to his victims and the slavish power he wields over them. Ironically, in Bram Stoker's Dracula, the brides accuse Dracula of never having loved and of loving no one in the present. In Van Helsing, Dracula's bloodthirsty brides will stop at nothing to help their master in his plan to subvert human civilisation and rule over a world of havoc, fear and darkness.
IGOR: Dr. Frankenstein's strangely disfigured, loyal laboratory assistant, Igor, first appeared as the character called Fritz (played by Dwight Frye) in Universal's 1931 film Frankenstein, and was later further defined and memorialized by Bela Lugosi, playing Ygor, in the 1939 Universal sequel Son of Frankenstein. In Van Helsing, Igor succumbs to the power of Dracula when the vampire arrives to take possession of the doctor's "creation"--the Frankenstein Monster. Fearing for his own life, Igor betrays his old friend, and unwittingly enslaves himself forever to Dracula, a new and infinitely crueller master.
CARL: serves as Van Helsing's assistant, an earnest friar appointed by a shadowy organisation to ensure Van Helsing's safe return. A creator of weapons designed especially for the destruction of vampires and monsters and such, Carl is well-versed in the secret weaponry for the hunting and slaying a variety of supernatural fiends. He eagerly supplies Van Helsing with this knowledge and all of the classic vampire hunting tools, as well as newer, more fantastical weaponry. Carl is a fully fictionalised creation from the imagination of filmmaker Sommers.