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(2004), PG-13
Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
May 12, 2004
45 out of 100

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If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2004), PG-13 -- ... the use of "the left hand of God" to describe Gabriel Van Helsing.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Carpathian Pictures, Universal Pictures, The Sommers Company
Distribution (US): Universal Pictures, Universal Studios Inc.
Director(s): Stephen Sommers
Producer(s): Bob Ducsay, Sam Mercer, David Minkowski: Czech Republic; Stephen Sommers, Matthew Stillman
Written by: Stephen Sommers
Cinematography/Camera: Allen Daviau
Music: Alan Silvestri
Film Editing: Bob Ducsay, Kelly Matsumoto
Casting: Priscilla John, Ellen Lewis
Production Design: Allan Cameron
Art Direction: Steve Arnold, Keith P. Cunningham, Giles Masters, Tony Reading, Jaromir Svarc
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

Bela Lugosi of Bram Stoker's Dracula was born Bela Blasko in Lugos (hence, "Lugosi"), Hungary, in 1882 some 50 miles from Transylvania, the "home" of Dracula. Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) was an elderly unorthodox Austrian psychiatrist-looking scientist. In this modern version, Van Helsing is a mercenary, a bounty hunter, a witch hunter, a vampire killer coming to living color as Hugh Jackman gives the ghost of Sloan a new age level of extreme.

Van Helsing is another example of saturation of the film with so many "lesser" examples of "non-R" ignoble and ignominious behaviors/images as to make the total weight of the program easily equivalent to an R-rated film. And I believe by now that anyone over 30 understands precisely what I am imparting. See the CAP Rule of 1000 for more on this concept. Further, the CAP analysis model again clearly identifies where the ignoble deeds/images and behaviors are concentrated -- in Wanton Violence/Crime and Offense to God as evidenced by the zero scores earned by the film in each. With a final score of 45, Van Helsing could not have been more R-13.

Were the filmmakers serious about their job or were they winking at us? It is hard to tell with such a mixture of dynamic and excellent sensory-saturating period-specific design with modern social snippets. In one case Van Helsing shoved the crucifix, which has been lethal to Dracula for more than 400 years, into Dracula's face who then went into a series of blood-curdling screams with head-vibrating expressions of pain and terror as the crucifix, instead of Dracula, burst ablaze. Then suddenly, in a moment or two of silence with Dracula and Van Helsing starring at each other, Dracula tosses the crucifix with a quick expressional chuckle simultaneous with a slight cocking of his head and flick of an eyebrow.

The gist of the show is to kill the vampire, Count Vladislaus Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) which will in turn destroy all that he has created: all vampires, all werewolves, everything. Even his spawn between he and his three wives over 400 years which, too, would be destroyed. And the Dwergers (Dracula's servants of evil which look like small Orcs with goggles). People have been trying for more than 400 years to kill Dracula. Most notably the Valerious family. The Knights of the Holy Order, prompted by the Vatican, sent Van Helsing to end the days ... and nights ... of Dracula.

Along Van Helsing's path he encountered a couple other critters from the horror crypts of entertainment. The Frankenstein monster (Shuler Hensley) turned out to be an intelligent, copper-toothed, caring, Bible-reading man -- err -- men (seven of them). The Mr. Hyde (Robbie Coltrane) of Dr. Jeckle (Stephen Fisher)/Mr. Hyde was true to his murderous history but was about six hundred pounds heavier. And he ate cigars. Lit cigars.

In both the 1931 version and this 2004 version, Dracula had three wives and the Frankenstein monster was killed by arson of a windmill with him in it (also with the dead Dr. Frankenstein - Samuel West). But in the 1931 version, Dracula's three wives wore full length gowns. In the 2004 version, they changed into flying beasts to wreak havoc on the people of Transylvania but they wore nothing when flying beasts. And it was obvious they were female when flying. Bela was probably turning in his grave.

Note that the CAP analysis model will not permit incorporation of any one example of ignominy into more than one investigation area, thus assuring no duplication. The issue of evil female beasts attacking people while nude may seem to fit into both violence and sexual immorality, but our model will not permit it. The flying nude beasts were incorporated into violence rather than into sexual immorality. While this technique affects scoring distribution across the six investigation areas, it does not affect the final score nor the influence density.

Visual creativity and invention was admirable. The period-specific and theme-specific scenery and costuming was magnificent and most effective in setting the mood. And ingenuity in armament was cleaver with the usual assortment of a Bible, a crucifix, wolfbane plus a new one ... an automatic crossbow that rapid-fired silver-tipped arrows like a gattling gun invented by cohort Friar Carl (David Wenham) who was sent along with Van Helsing by the Knights of the Holy Order. But much of the ingenuity and creativity had to challenge morality of course. The holy water was still honored, though. The gattling crossbow was ineffective against the flying babes until Van Helsing dipped the crossbow into holy water. I would even suggest there is a suggestion of Indiana Jones(tm) and Lord of the Rings(tm).

Fury and loud abound. The brushstrokes are extreme. Fill terror in this 122 minute movie sometimes gets obvious as well as boring. Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious provides some welcome opposite to Jackman's bland character. Anna is the last of the Valerious family since one of Dracula's werewolves turned her brother, Velkan (Will Kemp) into a werewolf who eventually dies. The first pater of the Valerious family who vowed to kill Dracula promised God that none of the Valeriouses would enter the gates of Heaven until Dracula was dead. And Anna is now the last of the Valerious family. If Anna dies before Dracula she and all Valeriouses before her back 400 years would burn in Hell.

A couple issues of probable concern to the Christian parents in addition to the rampant vampirism, the lycanthropy (werewolf-opy) and creating life (Frankenstein) from death (akin to unholy resurrection) include the dedication of an entire family to the fight against evil, promising to not enter into Heaven until they succeed in their quest. This is akin to selling one's soul to Satan. Another issue of probable concern to the Christian parents is the use of "the left hand of God" to describe Gabriel Van Helsing. I don't remember Van Helsing's original first name name but it was not Gabriel. We know who sits and the right hand of God and to equate a mortal man to the left Hand of God is, well, dark. [Matt. 25:41]

Maybe there is some poetic design in equating Van Helsing with the left hand of God since He uses the left to speak to and deal with evil to be condemned. Maybe equating Van Helsing with the left hand of God is subliminally saying Van Helsing is evil to be condemned? God further describes "left" in Matt. 25:33. In all noted cases left is rather dark, as are things of evil. Even the angel Gabriel, who appeared to Zacharias to tell him of the coming baby son with Elizabeth, stood to the right of the altar [Luke 1:11] (this is the same angel Gabriel who told Mary that she would give virgin birth to Jesus). Whatever the meaning (if any) of the use of "the left hand of God" with Van Helsing, it is thought-provoking use of Scripture-specific terminology. But thought-provoking may be the problem. Not that thinking is a problem but thinking ourselves out of His favor is.

A standard terror tale with modern embellishments it is, this new "Dracula" movie. Part of those embellishments include just a few uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, four to be specific. And no uses of the most foul of the foul words. [Col. 3:8] While there are nine uses of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive there are none with the four letter expletive. [Deut 5:11] The strongest presences in this film were in violence and matters of unholiness/evil as noted by the CAP Thermometers. [Prov. 3:31-32, Phil. 4:8] R-rated movies in the comparative baseline database earned scores of 54 and below out of 100. Van Helsing earned a zero score in each of the Wanton Violence/Crime and the Offense to God investigation areas.

Please inspect the rather lengthy listing of observations in the Findings/Scoring section before you decide whether to let your teens go to see this film.

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If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Matt. 25:31 - 46 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they [on the left] will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous [on the right] to eternal life." [In other cases God refers to the left darkly and the right in a positive way such as Mark 16:19 "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God." God refers to Jesus at the right had of God five more times in the New Testament.]
  • Luke 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name.]
  • Prov. 3:31-32 Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence.
  • Phil. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Rom. 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The heart of the CAP Analysis Model)

    Van Helsing (2004) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • mob assault, repeatedly
  • sword threat
  • sword impalement (seen in motion as it enters and protrudes)
  • attempted murder by crushing
  • human aflame
  • threat of being eaten
  • assault, repeatedly
  • gunfire to kill, defensive, repeatedly
  • amputation
  • action violence, repeatedly, frequent, some quite graphic
  • attempted murder by throwing off high place
  • impalement with grappling hook
  • death by fall, repeatedly
  • evil animal attack, repeatedly
  • death by animal attack
  • attacks by unholy naked female flying beasts, repeatedly, frequent
  • drinking the blood of the dead
  • decay of flesh, repeatedly
  • lust for killing
  • gunfire to kill
  • assault of woman by man
  • beast ripping flesh off itself, repeatedly
  • decayed body
  • brutal lab procedure
  • explosive startle, repeatedly
  • impalement of chest
  • feeding frenzy on humans by hundreds of evil progeny of Dracula
  • additional impalement, repeatedly
  • creatures in flame

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • four uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • threat of suicide to manipulate

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • excessive cleavage, repeatedly, frequent
  • vulgar pose
  • request for sex
  • after intercourse
  • camera angle to force viewer on private parts, repeatedly
  • inappropriate touch
  • sexual innuendo
  • near nudity

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • offer of booze as reward
  • drugging to control, twice

    Offense to God (O)
  • shape-shifting, repeatedly, frequent
  • unholy manifestations, repeatedly
  • unholy transporting of beings, repeatedly frequent
  • evil transformations, repeatedly, frequent, many quite graphic
  • unholy resurrection
  • unholy healing, repeatedly, frequent
  • unholy beings, repeatedly, frequent
  • unnatural flight
  • Helsing = left hand of God
  • dedicating family to killing Dracula or not go to Heaven - in effect selling one's soul
  • "I wish you a week in Hell for that: by a priest
  • counterfeiting of God's Word
  • claims of unholy superiority
  • tales of reincarnation
  • evil beings for the sole purpose of doing battle for evil, many
  • thousands of progeny for evil
  • demon attacks
  • moving still painting
  • attacks by evil half-naked female beings, repeatedly, frequent
  • vampirism throughout
  • lycanthropy, repeatedly, frequent
  • life from death (Frankenstein) akin to unholy resurrection
  • mocking of God's Word
  • life in a covenant with Satan
  • claim of God murdering a man
  • many unholy activities, too many to itemize
  • additional unholy beings

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • murder by bite, repeatedly
  • murder by arson
  • murder victim
  • murder by beast, repeatedly


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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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