My good deed for the day is using an image of Peter Cushing instead of Hugh Jackman at the top of a news article concerning the in-the-works Van Helsing reboot. You’re welcome.
Today’s volley of Universal Monsters news comes from screenwriter Jon Spaihts, who is penning the next big screen outing of the infamous monster hunter alongside Eric Heisserer. Like next summer’s The Mummy, which Spaihts also wrote, the new Van Helsing will be set in a shared cinematic universe where the Wolf Man can brush shoulders with Dracula and the Mummy can meet Frankenstein. But until we actually see The Mummy, it’s not clear what these movies will actually feel like and whether or not they’ll be worthy successors to the original classics.
But Spaihts does say this much: don’t expect the new Van Helsing to be much like previous versions.
Speaking with Collider, Spaihts explained that this take on the character will be a modern day interpretation. So feel free to scrub Stephen Sommers’ atrocious (if well-intentioned) 2004 film from your memory:
It’s a new creation, so it doesn’t owe much of a debt to prior films, but it is still a very romantic departure from the character as incepted in Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, where it was a Dutch doctor who figures out a very surprising answer to an odd medical question. This is a monster hunter with encyclopedic knowledge, but it’s set in the present day and it’s just filled with good stuff I’m not allowed to talk about. But I’m very excited about this new incarnation of Van Helsing, and I hope that as the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe begins to take flight, we’ll see him cropping up in other stories, as well.
And yep, Spaihts is already talking about this new Van Helsing popping up across the larger monsters universe. If there was any lingering doubt that Marvel Studios has forever changed the way studios look at their franchises…
In the full interview, Spaihts goes on to describe Universal monster classics as slow “parlor stories” (insert irritated grunt here), but he also promises that The Mummy will be “legit terrifying” while also being a “swashbuckling action-adventure character of a modern epic action movie” (insert positive-but-wary exhale here). This aligns with what Heisserer said when he was asked about the tone of these new monster movies earlier this year:
I can say that the decision that a lot of us made was to go and just write the best movie we could in our own corner and make sure it’s good on its own…and didn’t necessarily need to link arm-in arm-with anybody else. And to be tonally different from the other films. One may be a little bit more comedic, action-adventure-y, one can be very much a traditional horror piece. That kind of thing. And then we’ll see what happens as the projects evolve and we all get a chance to convene and talk, and make sure the movies feel like they’re all in the same world.
Heisserer also described their new take on Van Helsing as being similar to Mad Max, which is just off-kilter enough to have my attention. I think Abraham Van Helsing is one of the great characters ever to emerge from genre literature, but I also believe he’s flexible enough to accommodate many different interpretations. I’ll always be partial to Peter Cushing’s take on the character (a stoic intellectual who was unafraid to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty), but I certainly wouldn’t say no to a fresh take…unless that fresh take is played by Hugh Jackman circa 2004.
Van Helsing doesn’t have a release date yet, but it is in the works alongside The Invisible Man (starring Johnny Depp), Frankenstein (starring Javier Bardem), and The Wolf Man (possibly starring Dwayne Johnson). The Mummy arrives on June 9, 2017.