Like most nerds, I was pretty bummed when I heard that Guillermo Del Toro had decided to pull out of the Hobbit movies, leaving Bilbo Baggins' return to the big screen in doubt. My dreams of seeing a freakish one-eyed version of Smaug and a Hobbit-sized Ron Perlman were forever dashed. I figured that creepshow king Del Toro was moving on to another one of his amazing passion projects, like Pan's Labyrinth or The Devil's Backbone, but I was wrong. According to a recent report, the Oscar nominee is developing a movie based on Van Helsing, the vampire hunter dreamed up by Bram Stoker in the original Dracula novel.
The general reaction to this news? I think "WTF" pretty much sums it up.
I get why Del Toro left The Hobbit (he reportedly didn't want to spend an extra three years in New Zealand working on a project that might never get made) ... but Van Helsing!? The last time we saw Stoker's monster stalker, he was murdering Dracula's mutant babies in a loud and lumbering Stephen Sommers-directed stinker. I think it's safe to say that moviegoers aren't clamoring for his return. Still, if anyone can bring Van Helsing back in high horror style, it's Del Toro. The guy works wonders with established characters and franchises, like Hellboy and, of course, Blade.
Del Toro's 2002 sequel Blade II is a scarier, bloodier and more violent flick than Stephen Norrington's original Blade movie. It's easily the best of the trilogy, and it's one of my favorite vampire action films of all time (and that's saying a lot, considering there are, like, four-hundred billion of them, and I've seen 'em all twice!).
Blade II ditches the first movie's run of the mill vamps in favor of a new race of horrific-looking Nosferatu-inspired bloodsuckers that feed on humans and vampires. They're disturbing and fascinating at the same time and, unlike regular vamps, they pose a real threat to Wesley Snipes' unstoppable daywalking badass.
The sequel is an exceptional mass-market action picture. It packs twice as much gore, twists, turns, and imagination in ninety minutes than, say, the entire Resident Evil film franchise or other similar horror-action mashups. Plus it's got The Perl! It's not a perfect film -- there's some painful early CGI and a little too much bad guy rambling at the end – but it's still a blast to watch.
So check it out this weekend and see the great things Del Toro can do with a mainstream movie franchise. I'll meet you back here on Monday for another fun Movie Club discussion.