NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by ram cwho says... "This movie is a creature-special-effects extravaganza. It moved at breakneck speed, the action sequences are amazing, with a good serving of wit and humor."
Time frame and place: 1800-1900 Europe
The movie starts out in a dark castle somewhere in Eastern Europe where Dr Victor Frankenstein (Samuel West) under the employ of Count Vladislaus Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) had just finished assembling his monster (essential later.) Outside of the gates, vampire food, er... villagers were coming in droves.
Just as the gate crashers were about to enter the castle's laboratory, the Count killed the Doctor with a swift bite to the neck because Victor refused to let his monster be used for Dracula's evil deeds. As he was dying Victor called for Igor, Dracula's opportunistic errand boy (Kevin J. O'Connor) to help him but the later said, "You may have been a good friend to me but the Count pays me." Or something like that. The monster sprang to life, grabbed the lifeless body of his "father" and ambled away as best as he could, stitches and all! The villagers chased and trapped him inside a windmill. As the villagers were burning the windmill, Dracula and his hideous vampire wives: Aleera (Elena Anaya), Verona (Sylvia Colloca) and Marishka (Josie Maran) swooped down in an amazing cloud/aerial shoot towards the mob!
The vampire wives were actually drop dead gorgeous when they took human form! The humans fled for dear lives, the windmill crashed to the ground and the Count and his wives wept (the Frankenstein monster was very important for them!)
Next scene Paris, very Gothic night shots. Van Helsing ripped a "Wanted - Van Helsing" poster from a wall.
He heard a scream and found a dead girl on a street. Beside her, a filthy cigar left by Van Helsing's current quarry. He spotted "it" climbing the NotreDame Cathedral. It was the Dr Jekyl-Mr Hyde monster (Stephen Fisher.) Man, he was huge! This was the first fight scene of Van Helsing and it was really scary but still humorous, especially the action sequences with the big bell, the grappling hook gun, the flying gilloutine, and batman-like rope swinging outside the Cathedral. During the scuffle, Mr Hyde lost an arm and had a big cut to the abdomen while Van Helsing was thrown around like a rag doll! Van Helsing wanted to bring Mr Hyde to London but of course the later sneered at the suggestion. Apparently, Mr Hyde was not as good as Van Helsing with rope swinging so he crashed dead to the ground. While falling, he morphs back to Dr. Jekyll and dies as he hits the ground. A crowd mulls around the dead body of Dr. Jeckyll, spots Van Helsing on top and cries of "Murderer!" echoes. Van Helsing makes sign of the cross and says a prayer.
Back to Transylvannia. We find Velkan Valerious (Will Kemp) tied to a post in a small forest clearing. As the story goes the Valerious are the mortal enemies of Count Dracula. Generations of the Valerious family battled with the Count and failed. Only two survived: Velkan and and his sister Anna (Kate Beckensale.) If they, too fail, all their ancestors who have been waiting outside Heaven's Gate will instead be put in purgatory. Yes, that's the story. None of their dead ancestor's souls will be allowed by Saint Peter to enter Heaven unless Dracula was dispatched once and for all. It is now up to Velkan and Anna to do so. Back to Velkan and the post. We hear a deep growl as the camera panned in blurred motion towards Velkan. Suddenly a big werewolf (as told you before, this movie was all about huge, creatures) lunged at Velkan but he was ready for it. He somersaulted up and hang by a rope. It was really scary watching the werewolf jump up and down on the post trying to reach Velkan. And then the werewolf dropped to the ground and trapped in a cage! Velkan used himself as bait to catch the creature! His companions appeared and pulled up the cage. The pulley snagged and they were ready to give up, perhaps to try some other time when Anna appeared to help Velkan. But Velkan dropped his pistol with silver bullet and he can't kill the werewolf with anything else. The creature shook the cage and wrecked it in no time at all. All hell broke loose! The humans again ran away! Anna tried to get the pistol but she too had to ran away. The werewolf was very fast, very big, very hairy, and with huge jaws full of really long sharp fangs! (If anything else you're going to love this movie for the special effects DETAILS!)
Anna stopped dead in her tracks because there was nowhere else to ran to. She was looking down a deep cliff! As the creature lunged at her, Velkan appeared and shot the creature and he too dropped off the cliff. Anna looked sadly down the cliff as she knew she lost her only blood relative.
Van Helsing returns to Rome where he goes to a confessional inside of Saint Peter's Cathedral. He says, "Bless me father for I have... "
"Sinned! Yes, I know!" Cardinal Jinette (Alun Armstrong) replied and praises him for his work but deplores the damage and publicity that comes with it. The confessional is really a secret entrance to the HQ of the Knights of the Holy Cross, a secret organization comprised of men of different religions, that aims to combat evil in the world.. Van Helsing asks about his past that he knows nothing about and the cardinal can only say that his group had found him at the gates of the church and reared him as their own. They argued some more and then went down to business. Cardinal Jinette told Helsing about the trouble in Eastern Europe, particularly in Transylvannia, where the people were in grave danger of becoming an extinct species because of a Count named Dracula. He must kill this creature. Van Helsing must work with the Valerio family to do this. This is where Van Helsing knew about the family's history. Then Jinette gave him a mysterious scroll with a torn piece of paper (important later.) They went down to the church's lab where all kinds of religious denominations were represented and they were all working on stuff to fight evil. Think of James Bond and Dr M his genius inventor. Well, the church had one too in the person of the comical Friar Carl (David Wenham) who demonstrated his genius by throwing a drop of nitroglycerine on the floor. It exploded, to the consternation of his colleagues. He apologized but as though exploding stuff was a natural thing to do. Van Helsing reminded him not to curse but Carl jested, "I'm a friar not priest so I can curse all I want, damn it."
He gave Van Helsing a lot of stuff including his own inventions, the VERY COOL bow and arrow fast-shooter and a round object (important later) which for ten years he knew not what for. No matter, he stuffed it in Van Helsings rucksack and bid him good luck. But Van Helsing took him along anyway.
They travelled by boat and when they arrived in Transylvannia they were just in time for a vampire dinner, the diners being the Count's wives. This is again a great cinematography with lots and fantastic action and timely humorous sequences, like the cow that the vamps picked up and thrown on a house and still live. I like the way how the vampires fly and swoop down on thier food... er, victims and how seamlessly they morph back into voluptuous human form! Van Helsing got to use his fast shooting bow and arrow.
He battled with the vampires along with Anna who made it clear she didn't need any help. The vampires only left when the sun shone through but not before one of them got nailed with an arrow dipped in Holy Water which turned it into flames, then jelly, then dust. After this elaborate introduction of Van Helsing to the Valerious family, they got down to business over how to kill Dracula. Anna acknowledged Van Helsing as the very first one to kill a vampire. Anna obviously roots for Van Helsing but still refused help. So he sprayed her with Maze. I mean, sleeping mist, another Friar Carl invention.
Anna woke up only to be nearly mangled with an attack by a werewolf whom she recognized as her brother Velkan! He was bitten by a werewolf in the early fight and he turned into one himself during the full moon. He is now forced to do the Count's evil deeds. He briefly turned back into human form and almost successfully told Anna how to kill the Count before he turned wolf again. Van Helsing chased it but he himself almost become a corpse because Top Hat (Tom Fisher) the village honcho wanted to connect his spade with Van Helsing's neck. Velkan the wolf attacked and killed Top Hat by accident and was nearly shot by Van Helsing if Anna did not intervene for his brother.
Meanwhile, the Count was mad over the death of one of his wives. He exhorted his ilk to find out who the stranger was. He talked while walking along the floor, then the wall, then the ceiling where his voluptuous vampire wives were "standing" and making we're-so-sorry noises. This scene was soooo cool! Their hair were pulled by gravity towards the floor but their feet were firnly placed on the ceiling. I know this is all illusion but you've got to watch it yourself to see how natural and seamless the special effects went about it!
Van Helsing agreed to let Velkan go for the time being as they went to Castle Frankenstein (scene at the beginning of the movie.) They discovered the many offspring of the Count and his wives. These hybernating creatures slept in a cocoon-like bag which became alive when a bolt of lightning stroke the Count's contraption in the laboratory. It turned out, the Count was trying to make a Frankenstein monster himself. But this did not succeed and the offsprings, bat-like gnomes burst to death. Van Helsing met the Count for the first time and was awed over the Count's knowledge of his history, including memories he tried to recall. Their conversation was interrupted when the wives wailed over the death of their offsprings.
Van Helsing and Anna left the castle and met the original Frankenstein monster by accident. He survived the windmill crash and hid in a cave, subsisting on animlas who wandered there. They fought at first then subdued the monster. Anna and Van Helsing later agreed that the monster be brought to Rome for safekeeping. It turned out that the answer to the Count's problem on how to properly resurrect his children was to hook up the Frankenstein monster to his apparatus. The monster told them that there were many, many more offspring to be resurrected hidden somewhere else.
On their way to Rome, they were attacked by Velkan the werewolf and the vampire wives. Great action here too. Here Velkan died and Anna was snatched by the vampires and taken to the Count's own Castle. At this point the location was still a mystery for them. Back in Budapest, they meet a vampire who proposed an exchange of prisoners. Anna for the Frankenstein monster. At the ball, Anna looked very sexy in red gown dancing with the count. When she looked at the mirror she saw she was dancing alone, yet there were people around her.
All of them were vampires. She was rescued but the Count took the Frankenstein monster. All the vampires who chased them in the ball vaporized when Carl finally figured out what the round object invention was good for. It emitted a bright light like the sun and toasted all the vamps!
With the help of the genius Carl, Van Helsing solved the puzzle of the scroll with the torn piece of paper. It was part of the tapestry by the Valerious' family's wall and opened when Van Helsing read the inscription, "In the name of God open this door." They were immediately transported to Dracula's own castle! They also learned that the way to kill the Count was for a werewolf to kill it the old fashioned way. A bite to the neck! Nobody dared not even Velkan. By now however, there was a glimmer of hope since Van Helsing was bitten by Velkan before he died. So in a matter of minutes Van Helsing will become one himself.
Fantastic action sequences here, involving great heights, ropes, vampires, flying bridges and the morphing of human into werewolf and dracula monster. As Count and VanHelsing fight, Count tells that Van Helsing is his ORIGINAL killer. He makes a pact with the devil to become immortal. The ring Van Helsing wears is Dracula's ring. Dracula tries to tell more but VanHelsing says "Some memories are better off unremembered".
Dracula succeeded in turning his children alive (thousands upon thousands of them!) because he used the Frankenstein monster but then Van Helsing, as the wolf also snacked on his neck, which rendered all the other evil creatures, including the vampire wives and batlike offsprings, like balloons bursting on a rose thorn. Dracula turned to ashes. At the last moment, Anna also succeeded in injecting the anitdote to Van Helsing which reversed the werewolf effect. However, it cost Anna her life.
The last scene showed Carl and Van Helsing stoking a fire by the sea with the somber remains of the still beautiful Anna about to be burned to ashes. It also showed the Frankenstein creature on a raft rowing away. He was their friend and he wanted very much, to exist, like he said.
Finally, Van Helsing looked up to a light by the sky and saw a wisp of Anna's face smiling down at him. She was with her ancestors and by the looks of it, they were about to enter the Pearly Gates. Van Helsing and Carl ride off to another adventure...