#SDCC16: Van Helsing Cast Paints a Bloody Picture of the Vampire Apocalypse - Dread Central
Connect with us


#SDCC16: Van Helsing Cast Paints a Bloody Picture of the Vampire Apocalypse



I can’t help but love Syfy. While everyone is busy trying to make the next “Breaking Bad,” they are content with amnesiac space operas and magical demon-slaying gunslingers. There’s something endearing about their persistent commitment to quality schlock. They know what they make, and they do a damn good job of it.

So here comes “Van Helsing,” a show that just screams Syfy. Taking place in a world ravaged by the vampire apocalypse, Vanessa Helsing wakes up from a coma to find that she is one of the last remaining humans. She has no idea how she got where she is, and her daughter is missing. She soon finds that her blood is toxic to vampires, and with a bite she can turn vampires back into humans. Take that, expectations! So she and her band of hardened survivors set off on a quest to save the world and find Vanessa’s daughter.

Tis a silly premise, but one that they hope to inject some seriousness into with compelling characters and darker themes. The vampires aren’t sleek and sexy brooding Twilight teenagers, depicting vampirism as a virus rather than something magic. They want to make vampires exist in the world, not make a world for vampires to exist in. So think less Blade and more The Omega Man.


“Van Helsing” made an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, so I got the chance to sit with stars Kelly Overton (Vanessa Helsing), Jonathan Scarfe (Axel), and Christopher Heyerdahl (Sam), along with executive producers Chad Oakes, Mike Frislev, and Simon Barry. I wanted to know more about the world they are creating and what they hope to accomplish with the show. First up was Kelly, who is somehow even lovelier in person. Here’s what she said drew her to the role:

Kelly: I’m lucky that there seems to be a trend with me that I get to play kickass female characters. I’m from an athletic background, sports were my first love before acting, so getting to be physical is great. It’s fun to be a badass! And honestly, I love all the fake blood. I have a lot of fun working in horror because there’s so much action and intensity to it. On set, it’s like shooting a comedy, because of all the absurd things you have to do and buy into to make it believable. People are going to love watching it for the same reasons I had so much fun making it.

She continued with how she prepared for the role:

Kelly: I know that there are a lot of female role models out there, but as an actor I tried not to think about it. I have to just focus at being good at the role. For that, I pulled from times in my own life where I had to be strong and did my best to honestly bring that to life. As far as my inspiration, I’d say mostly Ripley. But there are so many awesome female roles out there now that you could really pull from anywhere.

Kelly Overton

Executive producer Simon Barry had more to say on the show’s action and tone:

Simon: It’s not really a fun show in the typical Syfy Sharknado sense. We worked hard to ground it in the real world. Still, even in that, you can have a different kind of fun. Think about Aliens. There’s real danger and threat, and in the middle of it all Bill Paxton is saying these great lines. It’s fun but also makes the world more compelling than everyone just being steel-faced and somber. We wanted to bring a spectrum of emotions and characters, throw them into real dangerous situations, and have them react their own way.

Mike Frislev had more to say on this danger:

Mike: When we did “Hell on Wheels,” there was a sign that said “Population: one less every day.” We wanted to bring that kind of intensity and danger to “Van Helsing.” No one is safe in this world. Fans are going to meet characters and say, “You can’t possibly kill them!” And they’ll be wrong. But it’s that constant sense of danger that makes the show more compelling than others like it.

Chad Oakes had more to say on why he felt people would find the show compelling:

Chad: The danger would be meaningless if we didn’t have characters you were rooting for. Pulling from our connections on shows like “Hell on Wheels,” we got together a great cast and wrote the characters in a clever puzzle. Unpacking those characters is what’s going to take you to the end.

Van Helsing Cast

From Left to Right: Simon Barry, Kelly Overton, Jonathan Sarfe, Chad Oakes, Christopher Heyerdahl, Simon Barry, Holly Hines

Speaking of cast, Jonathan Scarfe had similar sentiments:

Jonathan: I was drawn to the project because of Neil LaBute initially. From their network, they pulled together this great cast with names like David Cubitt and Chris [Heyerdahl], and I just had to be a part of it. It’s just so much talent in one project. I just knew the characters would turn out unforgettable. There’s a lot you can do with vampires, but really they are just the world. In shows like “The Walking Dead,” it’s not about the zombies. It’s about the people in that world. That idea was integral to “Van Helsing.”

As an example of one of those great characters, Christopher Heyerdahl talked about how he approached his role as Sam, who is deaf:

Chris: I approached the role with the respect it deserves. The language of the deaf and hearing impaired is unique and beautiful, and I wanted to do my best to reflect that. Now obviously, I can’t learn the language in just four months, so it’s a work in progress, but one I’m very dedicated to. I didn’t want to just do the lines on the script, so I learned what I needed to be able to banter with Mohamad, the only other character that can understand him. I’m not sure always when I was on camera, so I don’t know exactly what got through. It’s going to be fun for people who are deaf or hearing impaired, since I’m often talking about things that I probably shouldn’t be. It’s a special extra layer just for people who can understand.

Christopher Heyerdahl

Now, I wish I could talk about “Van Helsing” without having to address the bitter, obnoxious, troll-ephant in the room. I would really like to just discuss if a vampire apocalypse show can make it in an industry inundated by zombies or how we might be able to bring vampires back in a post-Twilight world. But no, this is the internet, so of course this will all be under the looming shadow of Van Helsing now being a girl. Never mind that Buffy was kicking vampire ass way before Ghostbusters made everyone lose their collective minds. Getting mad that girls are taking over television isn’t a perspective I particularly respect, so I won’t go too much into the arguments. So I’ll just leave you with what Chad Oakes said about it:

Chad: We’re not trying to reproduce an old story and make it about a woman. We’ve gotten completely out of the Transylvania, pitchfork and torch kind of Van Helsing story. We really only use the lineage as mythos. We’re not replacing anyone or anything. “Van Helsing” is just a name, it is a person, and “person” by default doesn’t mean a man. Her being a woman contributes to the story in a meaningful way through the loss of her daughter. For this world, she was always meant to be a woman. Getting mad because she isn’t the classic male character is missing the point.

And lo, no one was ever a dick on the internet about female characters again. I can dream, can’t I?

So, how about you guys? Interested in “Van Helsing?” Let me know below, and stay tuned for more SDCC 2016 coverage!


Continue Reading


Rapid Eye Movement Trailer Forces You To Stay Awake



I would really love to go on vacation to New York City, so I’m damn jealous of the cast and crew of the upcoming movie Rapid Eye Movement, which was filmed almost exclusively in Times Square. In the film, a radio DJ is forced to stay awake for over eleven days after being threatened by a deranged caller, which begins to have serious effects on both his physical and mental well-being.

Rapid Eye Movement is directed by Peter Bishai and stars Francois Arnaud, Reiko Aylesworth, Chloe Brooks, Godfrey, Jamie Jackson, David Rhodes, Stelio Savante and Danny Ramirez. We don’t yet know of a release date, although we are happy to share the trailer along with two stills below.

Rapid Eye Movement Official Synopsis
In the heart of Times Square, radio DJ Rick Weider is driven to the edge of insanity as he tries to break the 11-day world record for staying awake. The stakes rise considerably when a deranged caller, who wants Rick to raise $5 million for charity, threatens to kill him unless he succeeds. With his life on the line, Rick unravels physically, emotionally and mentally, forced to confront his own demons while trying to outplay his seemingly powerful and unbeatable enemy.

Continue Reading


Horror is Strongly Represented at This Year’s Oscars!



The nominations for the 2018 Academy Awards have been released and both The Shape of Water and Get Out have received some serious nods in major categories!

Jordan Peele’s socially conscious horror/thriller got noms for Best Director, Lead Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), Original Screenplay, and Best Picture! For a directorial debut AND a horror movie, it’s amazing to see this film get some richly deserved love. Peele even tweeted, “I just spoke to Daniel. You know when you’re on the phone trying to disguise the sound of an ugly cry? I failed at that.

Meanwhile, Guillermo del Toro’s delightful fantasy creature feature The Shape of Water racked in this impressive list: Best Picture, Lead Actress (Sally Hawkins), Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins), Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), Best Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing (Sidney Wolinsky), Sound Editing (Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira), Sound Mixing (Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern), Production Design (Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau), Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), and Costume Design (Luis Sequeira). WHEW!

Having seen The Shape of Water just recently, I can assure you that it deserves every one of those accolades. It’s a gorgeous movie that kept a smile on my face through pretty much every single moment.

Other nominations that are equally important for us are the Visual Effects nods to both War for the Planet of the Apes and Kong: Skull Island and the Day of the Dead-themed Coco getting attention for Best Original Song and Animated Feature.

Congratulations to all nominees and we can’t wait to see what happens this March!

Continue Reading


Ice Cream Man Comic Sells Out, Will Receive Second Printing



If you happen to be one of the many people who believe that print media is dying, this news story will make you fuck right off. I’m talking about the fact that the first issue of Image Comics’ Ice Cream Man series sold out shortly after hitting shelves. Image have confirmed that the book will receive a second printing on February 14 to keep up with what they referred to as “overwhelming customer demand”. Retailers will need to order their copies by January 22.

Each issue of Ice Cream Man is a self-contained existential horror story revolving around the themes of sorrow, wonder, and redemption. As the name of the series implies, the titular ice cream man serves as the narrator of each particular tale, with the official synopsis below suggesting that he may be more than just the driver of a frozen pudding wagon.

The series is written by W. Maxwell Prince and illustrated by Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran. If you can’t wait until the second printing, you can purchase a digital copy of #1 from either ComiXology or Image’s official website.

Ice Cream Man #1 Official Synopsis
Chocolate, vanilla, existential horror, drug addiction, musical fantasy…there’s a flavor for everyone’s misery.

ICE CREAM MAN is a genre-defying comic book series featuring disparate “one-shot” tales of sorrow, wonder, and redemption. Each installment features its own cast of strange characters, dealing with their own special sundae of suffering. And on the periphery of all of them, like the twinkly music of his colorful truck, is the Ice Cream Man—a weaver of stories, a purveyor of sweet treats. Friend. Foe. God. Demon. The man who, with a snap of his fingers—lickety split!—can change the course of your life forever.

Continue Reading

Recent Comments


Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!


Copyright © 2017 Dread Central Media LLC