by Marc Kandel
I hate this swill so much I can taste it in the back of my throat, behind my eyes, deep, deep in my balls. Trying to stay awake and pick out some kind of entertainment value was excruciating. Ok, not Turkish prison excruciating, but c’mon- anyone on this site knows what its like to try and get through a truly Abominable. Odious. Flick. I can’t even call this a movie, much less a film- it’s a flick-- as in I stuck my finger in my nose, pulled it out, and gave what was on it a flick.I can barely even do a regular review. It’s almost pointless- I would have dig deep, deep, within to find a plot, characters, anything- this is a goddam mess, so I’m going to treat it like the goddam mess it is and do my best to clean house. After all, why should I take the time to form a structured, plotted intelligent review when the guy who puts the Duuuh and Wreck in director Stephen Sommers couldn’t be bothered to create a film that had ANY SINGLE ONE of those traits? Fuckwad. Fuckwad Hack. I’m gonna take a page from the Arabian justice system and cut your goddam hands off so you never lay your filthy hands on characters I enjoy ever again. Even Abbott and Costello treated these monsters with more dignity. You think not? Watch that one again- believe me, it’s a monster “Citizen Kane” compared to the blithering, sub-Castlevania, flophouse that gets hurled in your face at Mach Eight- smashing against your brain in a vigorous attempt to destroy all thought processes long enough to make you think you just had some sort of fantastic experience. This “picture” is a celluloid seizure. Grand Mal.
"I have a black, black hatred for this flick."
So Van Helsing is some sort of undercover soldier for the Vatican who hunts monsters- evidently he’s not the original Abraham Van Helsing either- or maybe he is- who the hell knows- not the director, the writers, or anyone watching this certainly. His latest assignment is to go to Transylvania and stop a plot involving three of the baddest of the bad- Dracula, Wolfman, and The Frankenstein Monster. The flick’s goodness lasts about the length of time it takes to read this summation. And that’s only because the base concept is sound- the execution is just so much garbage.
So without further ado, things I have a deep and abiding hatred about in Van Helsing:
-This is supposed to be a film utilizing Universal’s Worst and Darkest horror creations- it is a thoughtless, non-scary, nonsensical smear. For their time and beyond it, these classic monsters were shocking, frightening, eerie, and groundbreaking. None of these words apply to this handicapped cartoon flip-book.
-Since our director of ill-repute obviously doesn’t want to be scary, indeed, has gone so far as to publicly state having no love for things scary (again, why touch this project?), he doles out choppy, fast-forwarded CGI action sequences unbalanced with obvious, loud yuks, done capably in “the Mummy,” but totally witless, distracting, and resoundingly unfunny here.
-In an attempt to be “deep” and since the jokes are falling with an audible THUD, Sommers turns to tragedy within the film- to no real effect- it’s just another clichéd throw-in to try and cram as many emotions and contrivances as there are monsters, hoping that at least one part of the movie might have resonance enough to leave some impression with the viewer. Instead, its just one big bloated mess that will leak out of the filmgoer’s head all throughout the film, not waiting until the credits roll to be forgotten.
- Richard Roxburgh’s Dracula is undignified, foppish, ridiculously melodramatic flounce to the point of being just plain bland. The Romanian accent he dribbles is a poison to the auditory canal that would make Hamlet’s father’s bane look like ear wax removal drops. He is a gibbering muppet on a stick- that is, before relinquishing muppet-form to turn into a Gameboy Level One Boss- CGI Style. I remember Ricky from LXG- this wins no points with me either. I am so loathe to getting on actors’ cases but manoman get out of my genre pics you schmuck.
- The rules governing what the monsters can do and can’t, their weaknesses, powers, strengths, are so disjointed, ignored, nonsensical, paradoxed, and plain abandoned, that I yearn for the clear logic and erudition of “no matter how much they cry, no matter how much they beg, never, NEVER feed them after midnight.”
- Van Helsing cuts off Mr. Hyde’s arm- there is no arterial spray, no weakening from such an injury- another kiddie manouvre- violence with no consequences- as a result, who gives a shit who wins? It’s fraud.
- Frankenstein’s Monster learns how to talk and mourn his father that he never actually gets to meet within mere minutes of coming to life. I don’t care who your daddy is- nobody gets that kind of cognition .01 seconds after being volted into existence. Sloppy, lazy writing. The creature then squeals through most of the picture like a castrated circus clown. What a whiny, useless, wasted character.
-Igor, who callously double crosses Dr. Frankenstein and mortally wounds him, calls out to him in concern as the Monster runs away with the Doctor’s body. Make up your fucking mind. More sloppy writing.
- The movie makes Van Helsing some sort of amnesiac with flashes of a life lived throughout the centuries, but never bothers to complete the picture- Why is he like this? Is he immortal? Reborn? A robot? Nope, its one of those X-Files first to seventh season things- create an enigma, a mystery to captivate the audience, then panic when you realize you created a mystery you had no intention of ever explaining, nor did you ever intend to- that would require skills. Hilarity ensues. Actually, boredom, annoyance and anger ensue, in that order.
-Everybody in the supporting cast is stupid. Fucking balls-out dumb- people stroll up to the werewolf under the rubble and actually have the nerve to be surprised when he pops up for a big bite. The townspeople are told to look like the average angry torch wielding villagers, but only towards Van Helsing who is helping them rather than hurting them- not because it makes sense, but because everybody knows its cooler to have an anti-hero. Cast, here's another note from your director on Bizarro world- Don't thrust those pickaxes deep into your brains. Please, Don't do it right now.
- Pet Peeve- Dracula’s brides turn into Gelatinous Barbie dolls with no nipples or orifices- If you want to market a movie to children do Van Helsing vs. the Cantankerous Care Bears of Fudge Pack Mountain- if you are endeavoring to do a movie about monsters and demons, and have vampiric sluts soaring around without clothes on, lets have some anatomy 101- fuck the children. Making risen corpses more palatable for public visual consumption negates their horror. Its not about titillation, it is about horror. It’s a horror movie- make it unnerving and scary- don’t fucking make kid movies. Or if you do, make Monster Squad- oh look, Stephen, someone else had the idea and executed it very well- with KIDS even- why? Because they gave it some balls, some story, and some guts, and weren’t afraid to let a few of the latter spill out messily in the process. “Goonies” meets “House of Frankenstein”- great, fun stuff that despite its juvenile underpinnings is still light-years ahead of your slop.
I have to stop- I really could go another 20-50 or so points ranging from little nitpicks like Blatant James Bond rip-offs done so clumsily as to make me want to sue on behalf of that franchise, holes in the script you could ram a small country through, the atrocious performance of Kate Beckinsale who has yet another turkey to her name and is still is allowed to flourish in films like “The Aviator”- haven’t seen it, hope she did better there. I saw a brief clip where she or some fool was gushing about how she learned all her lines in Russian or some such shit- character work with no character, no payoff- just stupid actress masturbation that in the end, does the story, the audience no amount of good. And her accent still sounded idiotic. See? I try to wrap it up and just find more and more to loathe. I. Can’t. Stop.
You are filthy mercenary bastard Sommers, hired out to assassinate good things. And, to compound the atrocity, this asshole, who I am the first to admit, did craft a perfectly enjoyable action/adventure with good ol’ serial movie flair in “The Mummy,” not only botches the living crap out of this outing, but exhibits such a smug, undue pride in his creation it makes me ill. He claims to have great love for the genre; Couldn’t wait to get his hands on it, even. Hell, he goes farther than that-- Look at this quote I found on UGO.com in an interview with Herr Direcktor:
Sommers: “I thought you know what, I ought to watch those old movies again. I always loved them. So in a matter of 24 hours I watched all three originals and Bride of Frankenstein. I just fell in love again with these great characters and that is why they have stood the test of time. Then I was sitting there and the idea came into my head of, what if I put them all together in the same movie. I know they can all fit in the same world. They can all be in Eastern Europe, they can all be in the late 19th century.”
Wow Stevie. What an original, fresh, daring thought. Man, I wish I had your dazzling light-bulb of an idea over my head. Putting all the monsters together in one movie… That’s a righteous concept- I lay awake at night wondering what if I had your frightening mathematical intellect to come up with that equation. And why stop there? Why, let us dig up more tidbits of your Renaissance-Man, Thomas Edison-like discoveries- for instance, did you know that Stephen Sommers actually figured out that if you chisel the corners off a stone, forming it into a circular shape, reducing friction, that it actually becomes a very travel efficient, load-bearing “wheel?” Or that Stephen Sommers one fateful day took a wedge of chocolate and swiped it across a pad of peanut butter, creating a sumptuous, culinary delight? Or that one day this wise, venerable seer cracked the code of dividing a loaf of bread into pre-cut slices to save the average housewife time in the kitchen? I think if we give this prodigy enough time, cold fusion generators will be sold in Radio Shack at $8.99 a pop.
Or not. Because to allow him this claim, we would have to utterly ignore a colorful and varied history of films that have indeed explored this ground very thoroughly. Some good, some bad, and a few nigh-Lovecraftian in their ability to propel human consciousness further along towards the abyss of the unsane with their awfulness. Van Helsing is the high jester in this royal court of failure. Its the Lucky Pierre between 1971’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein and 1997’s House of Frankenstein in the daisy chain of oafishness. What Steve, you though I would give you first place? Hell, you didn’t even make it coherently poor enough to warrant cult or camp status. Now that’s fucking ineptitude. You’ve made the film “Underworld” hopes it gets placed next to in the video store giving it another 1% statistical probability of some fool purchasing it, to give it a home under his sofa to balance out the legs.
The movie is pretty much “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” sandwiched against “Underworld” with even less of an idea or through-line- And those who have read my reviews know I have called hell and reserved a special fire for the makers of LXG. I will say one positive thing- this movie gives it audience, albeit poorly, the Werewolf/Vampire fight so curiously absent from “Underworld.” There. I’m a fair guy again.
There is no joy, no entertainment value, no anything to this film. It’s a bunch of expensive, not particularly well-made toys scattered around a room by a child, having plenty to play with but content to simply show it off as a glut of plastic treasures rather than do something creative, constructive or fun with it. The monsters come, the monsters go. Van Helsing fights, mopes, broods, tries to engage in witty monkey repartee with other intellectually stunted characters, fails, lets jump cuts move him around a bit, explosion, cgi, explosion, cgi explosion, loud stuff, cgi, cgi, cgi, stupid Return of the Jedi bonfire scene that Happy Gilmore thought it had put to rest not realizing that hacks never, NEVER rest, sequel potential wedged in… aaaand…and we’re done.
So how does your ass feel? Fucked pretty hard, huh? Hear that sharp thwack resounding in your head? Your wallet just jumped out of your back pocket and smacked your ear into a big cauliflower.Stephen Sommers, meanwhile, patiently strops his lenses for his next butchery- put a batwing cape on him, turn on the camera, watch him plan his next ass-head opus on the shat out remains of someone else’s ideas and you’ve got a better horror movie.
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=9518&reviewer=358
originally posted: 01/31/05 18:02:31