Screenwriter Jon Spaihts Teases His New, Modern Take on ‘Van Helsing’

     November 2, 2016


Jon Spaihts is one of Hollywood’s hottest screenwriters right now. He’s worked on Prometheus and this year he has Doctor Strange and Passengers coming up. Christina Radish spoke to him for Doctor Strange, but she also got in a few questions about some his upcoming projects.

The last time Hollywood attempted a Van Helsing movie (pictured above), it was atrocious, but Spaihts, with the help of Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer, is starting fresh, and he’s excited about what the film has to offer:

JON SPAIHTS: It’s a new creation, so it doesn’t owe much of a debt to prior films, but it is still a very romantic departure from the character as incepted in Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, where it was a Dutch doctor who figures out a very surprising answer to an odd medical question. This is a monster hunter with encyclopedic knowledge, but it’s set in the present day and it’s just filled with good stuff I’m not allowed to talk about. But I’m very excited about this new incarnation of Van Helsing, and I hope that as the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe begins to take flight, we’ll see him cropping up in other stories, as well.

Van Helsing is a tricky character because A) Unlike other Universal Monster movies, there’s no classic film based on him, and thus he doesn’t have a distinctive look like the other characters; and B) He’s ostensibly a hero whose heroism is based on his ability to defeat monsters. Based on Spaihts comment about Van Helsing being a “monster hunter”, I’m curious if that will put him at odds with the rest of the Univeral Monsters or if there’s any room to turn those characters into his allies.


Image via Universal Pictures

However it turns out, the movie, and other Universal Monster films, will likely be on the scarier side:

When I spoke with Russell Crowe for The Nice Guys, he talked about The Mummy a bit and how the movie will seriously scare the shit out of people. Is that a fair assessment?


SPAIHTS: Yes, it’s not a campy series. Even to go back to the original Universal Monster movies with Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff, they were not really terrifying even then. Maybe sensibilities were different and people were easier to scare at the time, but they’re slow and they’re parlor stories, for the most part. They’re not terrifying, in modern terms. We’ve gotten really good at scaring people in movies. So, the nice thing about this Mummy is that it has the swash-buckling action-adventure character of a modern epic action movie, but it’s legit terrifying. It will scare you.

That’s a tall order, and I’m curious to see if they can pull it off. It definitely seems like The Mummy will now be the starting point for the Universal Monsters series and not Dracula Untold, a film that flopped and was definitely more on the “action” side than horror.

Spaihts also briefly talked about his involvement in Pacific Rim 2:

SPAIHTS: I did some work on Pacific Rim 2, but it was very concentrated work for a short time. I think it helped move the film into production, but when the present director came aboard, I think he came aboard with a lot of story ideas of his own. I think it’s very much his vision, going forward, and I don’t know how much of my story remains.

For those who don’t know, Daredevil: Season 1 showrunner Steven S. DeKnight is helming Pacific Rim 2, which is set to open February 23, 2018.

For more on the Universal Monster movies, click on the links below:

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