Countdown to Halloween #8: Abraham Van Helsing

I am pleased to focus on one of my favorite characters day’s Countdown. Today we pay homage to:

In May of 2004, Van Helsing, a character that was at the time 107 years old, finally got his own movie. It was hyped as “Braveheat meets The Matrix”. They bought the rights to use all the Universal Studios famous 30’s monsters and what we got – a steaming pile of garbage. An excuse for Hugh Jackman to mug to the camera, and what was supposed to be the next big film franchise crashed and burned. It’s only actual redeeming quality was probably Kate Beckinsale in a corset…

Professor Abraham Van Helsing is, as we know, a vampire hunter. He was originally created in Bram Stoker’s Dracula to hunt down the famous Count. The first time the character appeared in film he did so under a different name.   John Gottowt played ‘Professor Bulwer’ in 1922’s Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror. Since then, the character Van Helsing has been portrayed in countless movies over the years by several different actors. From Edward Van Sloan back in 1931 to greats like Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins, David Carradine, Christopher Plummer, even Mel Brooks. Most famously though, was Hammer film’s Van Helsing; Peter Cushing.

Appearing in 5 of Hammer Film’s Dracula movies before he was ever in Star Wars, Cushing redefined the character and made it his own. That’s not easy to do with a character that had been around almost 70 years before you get to him. Old Abraham has a very rich history. In the novel Dracula, we learn that Van Helsing had a dead son and a crazy wife (who should be an ex-wife, but because of his strong religious beliefs, he will not divorce her). Van Helsing also has a friend John Seward who is a former student of his. It is through Seward in the book that we learn a little bit more about Helsing and the way he looks/acts/speaks. Although he is a philosopher and is a very kind heart, Helsing is described also as a powerful man. I mean…. the guy kills vampires. From then on, whether his name was Abraham, Professor Bulwer, Von Helsing, Gabriel, or any of the other variations, one thing remained the same: he is a necessary and heroic character. Van Helsing’s character has appeared in not only novels and film, but in other forms of entertainment as well. In a Marvel Comics series, X-Men: Apocalypse vs. Dracula. After all, Dracula needs to be destroyed, therefore, Van Helsing joins Apocalypse and his crew to defeat Dracula. He also made appearances in several other comics around the world. In addition, Van Helsing has appeared in many TV shows as either his original form, or a descendant of him of some sort.

Now, for those who have been paying attention I know what you’re thinking; How can Van Helsing be ranked higher than Dracula? Well, simple – while Van Helsing has to carry the burden of that 2004 movie, he’s still no where near as watered down as old Fang Face. Here is a hero, driven by a desire for justice and revenge, facing impossible odds and a deadly foe, the dear Professor marches on and is never far behind the famous vampire.

Keep an eye out as another character on the Countdown will be revealed every night at 12:01 am for the rest of the month. You’ll also be able to find them HERE.

 ALSO:  Weird and Wacky World of Comics: ‘Van Helsing: From Beneath the Rue Morgue’

Who was your favorite Van Helsing?
John Gottowt (Nosferatu)
Edward Van Sloan (Dracula – 1931)
Peter Cushing (The Hammer Films)
Laurence Olivier (Dracula – 1979)
Anthony Hopkins (Bram Stoker’s Dracula)
Hugh Jackman (aka You’ve Never Seen a Dracula Movie)
OTHER
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