The Foywonder's Ten Worst Horror Films of the Decade
I know Van Helsing has its defenders - denial runs deeps. Van Helsing should have been a runaway blockbuster, a guaranteed franchise, a home run for horror and non-horror fans alike. We should all be collecting Van Helsing action figures, model kits, novels, comic books, you name it. By now we should be anxiously anticipating the release of Van Helsing 3. Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing from Bram Stoker's Dracula reinvented as a swashbuckling Indiana Jones/Solomon Kane/Blade/James Bond Victorian Era globetrotting adventurer hunting down creatures based on the classic Universal Monsters; a $160 million wet dream guaranteed to excite the inner child of every monster movie fan reduced to a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing. That idiot: Stephen Sommers. As soulless a summer blockbuster as you'll ever see, Sommers killed the franchise right out of the gate, did nothing to boost interest or sales in the old Universal monster movies (one of the main reasons Universal backed the film), and the plan to keep the film sets and recycle them for a proposed NBC spin-off television series to be called "Transylvania", NBC put a stake through the heart of that idea two weeks after the stench of Van Helsing began permeating theaters. One of the best premises for a blockbuster movie of the past ten years squandered unforgivably in a wretched bomb that beats you down with one empty exercise in excessive CGI after another failing at every turn to give you one single reason why should care about anything going on before your eyes let alone generate any thrills or chills, all the while stripping iconic characters of everything and anything that made them so, often refusing to play by its own rules in a plot that never rises above the level of third-rate Saturday morning cartoon gibberish. Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons wrote in his review what may have been the most astute line summarizing what went wrong with Van Helsing: "Sommers is like a kid who's just discovered masturbation, he just cannot control himself and has to keep doing things bigger, wilder and ultimately dumber - long past the point of reason or madness." If you ever want to truly understand just how miserably Van Helsing failed just watch a Hellboy movie.
Still not convinced? Then here are ten more reasons why Van Helsing is the worst horror movie of the past ten years.
Van Helsing's first name is now Gabriel instead of Abraham. Sure, Abraham was a good enough name for one of our greatest Presidents and the patriarch of the Jews and Arabs, but to Sommers it was all about what sounded cool to him and Abraham just didn't have a good enough ring to it despite being the name of the character from Bram Stoker's novel that he based the whole god damn movie around. It's cool though because Gabriel Van Helsing turns out to be the earthly amnesiac incarnation of the angel Gabriel. Say what?
Dracula's offspring are born dead - not undead, actually dead. Dracula keeps his born yet unborn offspring stuffed in wasp sacks hanging around his castle until he can find the correct electrical wattage needed to bring them to life. Or would that be to make them undead? The wrong wattage either fails to reanimate them or reanimates them for only a short period of time after which they begin bursting into piles of goo like the Martians' heads at end of Mars Attacks. Dracula commissioned the construction of Frankenstein's Monster because the energy used to bring him to life is the perfect voltage for giving his gazillion kids life - or would that be undeath? If Dracula ever gets his hands on Frankenstein's Monster he's going to use the power supply contained in Frank's Ultraman "Color Timer" of a mechanical heart to revive all of his babies that look like winged frogs with an uncanny resemblance to Dingbat from the old "Batman" cartoon series and unleash them upon mankind. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the basis for the film's very plot.
Comprehend for a moment that Richard Roxburgh was doing all this appallingly bad overacting as the worst Dracula in recent screen memory while Stephen Sommers sat in the director's chair nodding his head in approval. Sommers' version of Count Dracula really is like a lame version of a vampire villain from the 1960's Batman live-action series, while the Brides of Dracula all played by supermodels that do more silly posing than the "Power Rangers". Multiple brides and a million kids ... I never realized Dracula was Mormon.
Frankenstein's Monster suffers from some serious mood swings depending on Stephen Sommers own mood that particular scene. "I just want to live!" "You must destroy me!" "I want to live!" "Destroy me!" "Live!" Can we get Frank some Zoloft?
The full moon causes one to transform into a werewolf yet the first werewolf seen in the movie attacks in broad daylight. If clouds cover the moon then the werewolf will turn back into a human only to turn back into a werewolf as soon as the full moon is exposed again. Using Stephen Sommers laws of lycanthropy it must really suck to be a werewolf because unless it's a 100% clear sky you're going to be constantly changing back and forth at a moment's notice. On the bright side, according to Stephen Sommers version of the lunar cycle, there's a full moon every 48 hours.
Vampires can run around in broad daylight as long as there are clouds blocking the sun. The moment the clouds move allowing the sunlight to break-thru the vampires must flee back to their castle in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, these vampires seem to be able to do about Mach 3 when flying away to escape the light of day.
A point is made to tell us that werewolves are not fast enough to catch Transylvanian horses. Mere moments later, werewolves are shown successfully outrunning Transylvanian horses.
Everyone swings from a rope at some point in this movie. Even Frankenstein's monster comes swinging in at one point. Tarzan flicks have less rope swinging than Van Helsing. You get the sense that if Stephen Sommers ever made a movie based on Dragon's Lair it would be two-and-a-half hours of Dirk the Daring swinging across those flaming ropes.
Stake through the heart, decapitation, sunlight, holy water, fire, and all those other ways we've been told for ages were how you kill Dracula are all crap. According to Stephen Sommers, the one and only way to kill Dracula is the bite of a werewolf. Why exactly is never explained, but then we're also never given a really good explanation as to why Dracula spends so much time cavorting around with the very creatures that can kill him with a single bite. Apparently he isn't afraid of one of his werewolf minions turning on him and biting him because he's developed a werewolf anti-venom. He keeps that lycan antidote in a syringe stashed inside of a glass orb filled with acid up in a far off hard to reach tower of his castle - you know, for convenience. Van Helsing then quite conveniently gets transformed into a werewolf bigger than Sasquatch for the climactic CGI sumo wrestling contest with "Beast Wars" Dracula. At no time during this struggle does Drac ever attempt to fly at Mach 3 up to the tower to get his life-saving serum nor does he bother ordering one of his Oompah Loompahs dressed like Jawas on their way to a Quiet Riot concert to go fetch it for him.
And finally, after having spent the past two hours watching Kate Beckinsale barely escape encounters with werewolves and vampires, narrowly survive all manner of leaps and falls and multi-story rope swinging, what finally leads to the death of her character? Beckinsale is killed when werewolf Van Helsing in an uncontrollable frenzy tackles her onto a psychiatrist's couch. I do believe this marks the first time in cinematic history that getting sacked on a sofa killed a major character in a motion picture. Let me repeat this one last time just to put the exclamation point on why Van Helsing is the worst horror movie of the past decade:
KATE BECKINSALE DIES BECAUSE A WEREWOLF TACKLED HER ONTO A CUSHIONED LOVESEAT!
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