In the Company of Men, Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, Death at a Funeral (the remake)…. This is not the resume of a man that wants to make a new Syfy series about a female Van Helsing, Vanessa, that wakes up in a future overrun by vampires and joins the family business, but this is what Neil LaBute is doing next. The genre-based cable channel is picking up LaBute’s next TV project, which is paradoxically a spin on the titular character’s nemesis from Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, but can the man behind the Wicker Man remake end up doing something awesome with the campy premise?
“‘Van Helsing’ reimagines a classic story in a compelling new way, featuring a bold and complex heroine,” said Chris Regina, Senior Vice President, Program Strategy, Syfy in Variety. “This high octane acquired original series will be a terrific addition to our lineup next year.”
And for the record, Syfy definitely needs a “terrific addition” to their line-up for next year with Lost Girl, Continuum, Defiance, and Dominion all recently cancelled on the network.
“I am extremely excited to be working with Syfy and Nomadic Pictures to create a unique, character-driven action series that will move the traditional vampire tropes into bold and unexpected new territories,” added LaBute himself. “This is a wonderful chance for us to forge great stories and unforgettable characters and throw them into a world where the stakes — both dramatic and personal — are tremendously high. […] The combination of all of us on this project together is going to be combustible. I hope we rip the doors off this genre week after week.”
That remains to be determined. The last time someone named Van Helsing headlined his (or in this case, her) own project, it was the 2004 Stephen Sommers film starring Hugh Jackman. It too was supposed to jump start a franchise, but all it did was confirm that Jackman is still a damn good looking man with long hair. Universal Studios, which, like Syfy, is owned by Comcast, has been interested in launching a shared universe of monster movies including Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein, which would all culminate in a Van Helsing movie. No word on how or if the new series will effect that, but then again, no one’s really been talking about the “Monster-verse” since Dracula Untold tanked at the box office.
What LaBute and Van Helsing need to worry about is crossing that fine line into ripping off the Japanese anime and manga Hellsing, which also features a young, female Van Helsing, in this case Integra Hellsing, who is charged with saving the world from vampires and other supernatural bad guys. The real question, or course, is if Alucard – I mean, Dracula! – will make an appearance too in LaBute’s show? I guess we’ll find out when Van Helsing begins shooting this January in Vancouver for a Fall 2016 launch date. We’ll keep you posted with more news as it becomes available.