Forgot to mention a couple things the first time i talked about this movie. Like the obvious Rocky Horror parallel with the windmill climb (and how i thought of Monty Python “She’s a witch: burn her, burn her.”). The second time i also thought of the different reactions of Newly Created to Creator. In Mary Shelley’s story, the Creator runs away terrified and the Creature seeks him. In Rocky Horror the Created is unnerved by the doting Creator. In this, the Created has an instinctive affinity with the Creatot. In “The I in Team” (Buffy 4.13) Adam skewers Maggie when he rises, answering her “Adam?” with a toneless “Mommy.”
I mentioned the first time how because of the mask on both The Creature and, the first time we see him, Van Helsing, i at first thought The Creature became Van Helsing. The movie is big with parallels.
“Where would you go? Your nasty habit of graverobbing has made you unwelcome in most or the civilized world.”
Sounds very much like Van Helsing.
“Some call you murderer. Some say you are a holy man. Which is it?”
Pause. “Bit of both, really.”
And they play it straight! I’m actually rather impressed by that.
The Order is so The Watcher’s Council. “We have protected the world against the big scaries from time immemorial, using a preternaturally strong individual who is our bitch because of a Calling.”
What’s Riff Raff’s deal? He leads the peasants against the “threat” both times, is the grave digger, isn’t afraid of the night beasts, tries to kill Van Helsing.
Upon second viewing i realized what the “Feed, my pretties!” reminded me of: The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz and her monkeys.
Rewatching it, okay, Dracula says that Frankenstein’s creation proved that God is not the only one who can give life, “and now you are going to give that life to my children.”
Also upon second viewing, when Van Helsing sticks his hand into an egg sack, thought of Carl saying later: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s to never be the first one to put your hand in a viscous material.”
So, Van Helsing is the Left Hand of God who killed Dracula and then, what? pissed God off so God wiped his memory save nightmares and left him on the Vatican steps to do good. I wanna see origin story fanfic. Also, the insignia on the “God open this door” painting matches Van Helsing’s ring... which came from Dracula’s now missing finger?
When we saw the movie, Kate thought Dracula was so gay, and i didn’t, but watching it a second time i see it more, and i definitely saw the Dracula/Van Helsing slash more. The whole time Dracula is circling him “We could be friends. Partners. Brothers in arms.”
"let's face it; the two guys spent the whole movie trying to ram phallic shaped objects into each other. If that's not slashy chemistry, I don't know what is."
The moviemakers definitely took a cue from latter seasons Angel ‘cause we got the hoyay that is gratuitous slo-mo shots of a hot scruffy guy shooting a gun from each hand.
Gillian pointed out that in the book, Van Helsing’s name is Abraham (hello Bram Stoker). For once i’m okay with a movie playing fast and loose with canon. Clearly i see this as a reworking, a playing-around-with.
Heavy parallels within the movie:
When The Creature is walking up the windmill steps, we see him pass many bottles of absinthe. Then when Anna and Van Helsing are about to fall down into The Creature’s lair, they are drinking absinthe. When The Creature reaches the top of the windmill, we see a Bible. Van Helsing sees a Bible in The Creature’s lair? Is it the same one? That The Creature has a Bible functions both to hearken back to Mary Shelley’s tale (i believe it was Paradise Lost that her Creature read) and also to mark The Creature as not being evil (more Buffy parallels: Van Helsing can “sense” evil, though this is probably a SpiderSense steal, not an early Buffy steal). It also sets us up for when the Vatican will reject the Creature as worth saving (though the movie uses Catholicism since one rather has to for a vampire narrative, it also very much undercuts that). In a different vein, i liked the cute trick of seguing from the overturned couch to the matching fall-in in the cave. Rather brill all in all.
Dracula: “One more bolt and my children will live.”
Gillian: “Thank you, Exposition Fairy.”
There are definitely some continuity issues in the film.
Anna wants to rescue her brother from the curse because it is his first full moon so he is still saveable until the last stroke of midnight. She can’t save him, and they depart with the Creature that night. They get attacked en route, in Budapest, and Van Helsing gets bitten. Carl says it is 48 hours until the next full moon. Huh? There was a full moon that night that just ended? They go through a day and then go to the ball that night. They escape the ball and then after a scene change they are back in Castle Frankenstein. What? On the map it looked rather far to Budapest from Transylvania, and your Transylvanian horses seemed to have been lost
When The Creature is taken away and Van Helsing, in the water behind a gate, yells “I’ll rescue you, I will” i thought “I’ll never let go, Jack, I’ll never let go!”
When wolf!Helsing first goes after Drac, his toothy growl face is like that of Dracula. Oh and i love Dracula’s walking up walls and stuff, which i didn’t notice so much the first time.
Wolf!Helsing holding Anna’s dead body nicely parallels the Creature holding Frankenstein’s dead body from the beginning of the film.
People are all “How did wolf!Helsing kill Anna?” Since there was no blood, i assumed he just snapped her neck. Is this so far-fetched?
On second viewing i was more aware of how Van Helsing always has his hat, often retrieving it from certain danger. I know this has been done before -- Indiana Jones? What i definitely didn’t notice until the second viewing was that after he gives it to Anna in the rain (which is a really great shot of her, btw) he doesn’t have it again so far as i saw until her funeral.
Yes, it should have ended with the subtle wafting. But i actually liked the whole single-tear–on-sky-Anna (sadness that my first thought re: sky montage was the end of the Simpsons episode where they poke fun at the whole Mufasa-in-the-sky thing).
Oh, neither time did i catch the importance of Anna’s funeral being BY THE SEA. Face!palmed when i got it reading this (which amused me even though i quite like the movie).
Gillian said Kate Beckinsale’s agent should have fought the death, since now she can be in the sequel barely if at all. It occurred to me later that if there is a sequel it will probably be a prequel, the origin story.
I still love Dracula. bella_loki is right that "Richard Roxbourough (Dracula) reminds me a lot of Gary Oldman sometimes, and Gary played Fracis Ford Coppola's Dracula." The fact that he was the duke in Moulin Rouge actually makes me want to rewatch that film. And now i have more motivation to see League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Hugh Jackman is attractive but just rather usual looking.
This film is rated "PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned, Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13. Non-stop creature action violence and frightening images, and for sensuality"
After the movie, i had fun selling Gillian on historical precedent of fanfic. See here for the list i mentioned.