We have high hopes for Syfy’s Van Helsing, a Wynonna Earp-type reboot of the Dracula mythos featuring Vanessa Helsing, a.k.a. legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing’s daughter. (Yeah, I’m not really sure if that math works out either, but go with it…) In honor of the new Van Helsing series, we’re taking the time to chat about all (or, OK, most) of the Van Helsing adaptation that have come before.
Van Helsing originated as a character in the 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula as a foil to the eponymous vampire we all know as Dracula. Though he has been depicted as an action hero quite often since his literary introduction, the canon version of Van Helsing is more the academic type. An older Dutch doctor who brings together a band of vampire-fighters in an attempt to take down the creature who has brought a mysterious disease to England. Here is a description of the character from the novel:
“[Van Helsing] is a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than anyone else. He is a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind.
This, with an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, these form his equipment for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views are as wide as his all-embracing sympathy.”
The Dracula character first appeared on-screen in 1922 German expressionist silent film Nosferatu. Since then, Van Helsing has been portrayed by such legendary actors as Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins, Mel Brooks, Christopher Plummer, and Hugh Jackman.
Despite the on-screen popularity of the character over the past century, there has really yet to be a truly iconic portrayal for the current generation. (Your move, Syfy.)
Here is our ranking of the 11 most notable Van Helsing on-screen appearances of the past century: