Sunday, December 10, 2017

Honourable Mentions: The Adventures of Young Van Helsing: The Quest for the Lost Scepter

Well, this was err… special… and not in a good way. A 2004 offering from director Kevin Summerfield it kind of took the characters created by Bram Stoker and turned them into a low rent Relic Hunter.

We start in 1905 with Abraham Van Helsing (Ken Mitzkovitz) who looks remarkably Indiana Jones-lite, has a kid with him in the graveyard and is fighting a vampire… ish, Simon Magus (Joe Zaso, Rage of the Werewolf, Addicted to Murder 3: Bloodlust Vampire Killer & Nikos the Impaler) isn’t a vampire, but for now he has fangs and red eyes and Van Helsing is… American. Yes the Dutch philosopher and metaphysician has been culturally appropriated and turned into an inferior Dr Jones. Anyhoo, as Magus grabs his throat his flesh begins to smoke but Short Round… oops, sorry… wrong film, essentially the same character… manages to lob him a fancy implement (the Sceptre of God) and he stakes Magus with it whilst reciting an incantation. Magus begins to corrupt and falls dead.

it absorbed me
Jump forward to the present day and there is an archaeological dig headed by Professor Arad (Ned Narang). His assistant Estabon (Rabiah Elaawar) sees something on a scan and goes get Arad. They have found it, they say, and Estabon suggests securing the area first – of course, in due time, is the Professor’s confusing response. Meanwhile all the kids working on the dig are huddled round the screen, which shows a skeleton. Arad makes a declaration that it is dormant not dead. The dig continues and the unsuspecting student working near the buried body gets got… How can I explain it, their hands seem to merge and he screams and screams. By the time Arad and Estabon get there all the students are smouldering, charred skeletons and magus (for it was him) is gone.

Keith Jordan as Michael
Arad is to go over to America to find Michael Harris (Keith Jordan). He is the descendent of Van Helsing but, when his parents died, he was sent to live with his Aunt (Lisa Willis) and the family surname had been abandoned as it was too dangerous. He knows nothing of his heritage and is just a high school kid, a bit of a wise guy, in a band and disliked by the Jocks. We later discover that his friend Danny (Tomm Bauer), when a little kid, stole a package from the post office that contained the Sceptre, buried it and forgot where – hence the film title. Magus is after the sceptre, it feels, more than Michael (who could just end up as collateral damage).

Kimberly Cash as Morgan LeFay
So the film stumbles through awful bits with the actors miming to a song (by the Speaks) where they forget that backing vocalists need a mic to be heard, really some of the worst dialogue I’ve heard in a while and worse delivery (though Michael himself seemed fun) and a flash back to Van helsing getting Excalibur’s Scabbard from an undead Morgan LeFay (Kimberly Cash) and some zombie knights (for no good reason… it was just a bizarre piece). This all culminates in a showdown with Magus, conveniently about five yards from where Danny buried the Sceptre – and followed by them miming to two blooming songs at the school dance.

Magus shot with an arrow
The question can be asked, of course, what is Magus? Well, apparently he was an angel who was Lucifer’s second-in-command in the rebellion against heaven. He made the sceptre when still an angel, for reasons unknown, and can use it to rule the Earth (and bring Hell on Earth). He is described as a skinwalker – he can absorb the flesh off a human and make himself look less demon-like. When he isn’t doing that he can absorb a person’s memory – when he does this to a girl she ends up in a coma, when he does it to Danny there is no side-effect. He is immortal and regenerates lopped off body parts. Given that he was dormant post the VH-fight, no one explains how Van Helsing misplaced his body after defeating him (despite there being a room of crates with artefacts and creatures packed up).

Michael and Arad
So, no vampire but as it features Van Helsing (and vampires are mentioned a couple of times) it gets a mention as it is Dracula related. Sometimes on this blog I am tempted to say, “I watched it, so you don’t have to.” This is one of those times.

The imdb page is here.

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