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VAN HELSING

The Story Of The Story
Following the phenomenal success of both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, imaginative writer/director Stephen Sommers was casting around for a change of pace. He was seeking an equally intriguing idea on par with those behind his worldwide hits, but something different. Eventually, he became compelled with a concept that would continue to exploit his superlative skill of presenting intriguing characters involved in exciting action stories, told on an epic canvas with decidedly up-to-date sensibilities. His keen storytelling sense led him to a deep well rich with characters primed for a revitalized action-adventure comeback.

The filmmaker states, "People had been kidding me, saying, ‘Hey, you did The Mummy, so when are you going to do Dracula?' But that seemed limiting and already done. So I was thinking that it would be cool if all of the classic Universal monsters could be brought together somehow.”

That idea stayed with Sommers and drove him to re-examine the classic monsters from the studio's canon—the cinematic hallmark which had helped turn Universal Studios into a Hollywood leader more than seven decades ago. Sommers set out to breathe life into these iconic creatures and set them in an vividly rendered world, brought back from the dead (as it were) through the use of unsurpassed production values, the latest in visual effects technology and a breathlessly paced, action-filled screenplay rooted in both re-invention and a keen appreciation for its inspirational ancestry.

"I didn't pitch it before I started writing it, because I wasn't sure I could write it,” he says. In the script, Sommers was determined to link the existences of the monsters, giving them involved, on-screen relationships far beyond mere coincidence or happenstance.

"I wondered how I could take these legends and have it so their characters and stories all intersect. The connecting premise needed to be both true to the characters' popular mythologies and organic at the same time—I couldn't just have a hero taking on the three monsters for no reason. Then it struck me: What if Dracula had a life-anddeath reason for needing Dr. Frankenstein's Monster? Memorable villains always have really good reasons for what they're doing. For a story like this to be interesting, there has to be a motivation behind the evil. His simple need to kill people for their blood has been so established and explored in films and books. So as soon as I hit on what might be driving Dracula, what his motivation was, everything started to come together,” Sommers explains.

Comments Bob Ducsay, producer/editor and 15-year filmmaking partner to Sommers, "The single greatest thing about Stephen is he's a wonderful storyteller. For him, story is everything. As much as he infuses his movies with action, visual effects and production design, what stays foremost when he's making the movie is ‘what's the story here?' And that starts with his characters.”

The writer/director continued his welcomed homework into the legendary characters (returning to the Universal films from the 1930s and ‘40s) and decided not only to look beyond the accepted mythology, but to also bend the rules when it came time to customizing the characters for his larger-than-life canvas.

"What I tend to do is look at these myths and then try to explain them. For instance, we know we can't see Dracula's reflection, so my natural curiosity as a filmmaker asks, ‘Why?' If the mythology doesn't provide an answer, then I supply one of my own. I realized that Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula and The Wolf Man could all exist in the same world—the setting for all of their legends is Eastern Europe around the same time. Then I would come across something else, like when I read that werewolves were supposedly the guardians of vampires during the day. I started to be really excited by the potential o

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