Dr Lawrence Van Helsing was a Vampire hunter responsible for the deaths of many of the most powerful and dangerous vampires. He was killed in a confrontation with his archenemy Dracula, though his Grandson Lorrimer Van Helsing would continue his research into the occult years after his death.
Fictional Character Biography
Nothing is known about Van Helsings past however his grandson Lorrimor would mention that study into the occult had been in his family for generations which suggests that he may not have been the first member of his family to investigate the paranormal. Van Helsing helped to gather several important pieces of information and knowledge about the ways of the Vampire that had eluded others, he was arguably the greatest expert in his field with the study of Vampires being relatively obscure at the time of his research.
First confrontation with Dracula
At some Point Dr Van Helsing sought to destroy the most powerful and dangerous Vampire of all time Count Dracula. Having tracked down the demon to his castle in Klausenberg, Van Helsing's friend and protege Jonathan Harker went on to Castle Dracula ahead of Van Helsing. Though Harker was able to destroy Dracula's Vampire bride, he failed to kill the count and was subsequently turned into one of the undead by Dracula himself. Van Helsing would later arrive at Klausenberg where he discovered Harkers journal and staked him putting his friend out of his misery. He then immediatly afterward visited Harkers fiance Lucy Holmwood and her relatives including her brother Arthur and his wife Mina to inform them of his death. However Lucy was ill so he kept the news from her for the moment, later he discovered that she was being attacked by Dracula himself in the night [both as revenge for Harker murdering his bride and as a replacement for the bride Harker murdered] and hung garlic around her bedroom, lucy however had her maid remove them and was then made into a vampire by Dracula. As a Vampire she later attacked her own niece and brother but Van Helsing was able to scare her away with a cross back to her crypt where he staked her. Dracula would then target Mina, Van Helsing though was able to figure out that Dracula was keeping his coffin in the Holmwoods own cellar, which caused Dracula to flee back to his castle where he attempted to bury Mina alive. Van Helsing stooped him and chased him deep into his castle where the two fought. Though Dracula was stronger Van Helsing had the advantage in that the sun was rising outside, he tore the curtains down exposing Dracula to the sun. The Vampires body soon began to crumble, as he attempted to crawl away Van Helsing formed a cross from two candle sticks and forced him back into the ray's of the sun where his entire body disintegrated into nothing but ash, finally destroying Dracula and bringing an end to his reign of terror that had lasted for more than a century. Father Sandor would later remark that it had been because Van Helsing had "knowledge of the ways of the Vampire" that he had succedded in destroying Dracula while all others who had attempted before him had failed.
Battle against the disciples of Dracula
Dr Van Helsing would continue to hunt Vampires and supernatural creatures after Dracula's demise. During these years he was able to gather greater knowledge of the vampire, including discovering that there were many different kinds of vampires some with the power to change themselves into bats, a notion he had previously dismissed as implausible. Van Helsing soon came into confrontation with a powerful Vampire master Baron Meinster. The Baron had been targeting a local girls school killing and making several of the young women there into his new vampire minions. Father stepnik the local priest summoned Van Helsing to the area, with the father having suspected that Meinster was involved Van Helsing soon arrived at the Barons castle where he encountered his mother, who had been transformed into a vampire, the next morning he staked her with her consent releasing her from her torment. When the Baron became involved with one of the young women there Mariane, Van Helsing was able to find out from her where he and his Vampire minions were hiding in an old abandoned windmill. Facing them there with a cross and a vial of holy water Van Helsing was overpowered by the Baron and bitten, though he was able to cauterize the wound and then poured holy water on it purifying it. Baron Meinster then arrived back with Mariane hoping to make Van Helsing watch her "intiation" into the undead, Van Helsing however threw his vial of holy water into the barons face horribly burning him. The Baron then in desperation kicked over a brazier of hot coals which caused the entire windmill to burnand fled, but Van Helsing was able to move the huge sails of the windmill into the shape of a cross. Its shadow was cast over the Baron and burned him to death, while his vampire minions perished in the burning windmill.
Seven Golden Vampires
Van Helsing would continue to hunt Vampires, but at some point he married and had a son named Leyland who like his father studied the supernatural. Van Helsing began research into vampires in other places besides Europe further expanding his knowledge. He discovered a legend about a rural village in China which was said to have been terrorized by Seven ferociously powerful "golden" Vampires, wanting to mount an expedition to this village no one however believed his talk of Vampires and Demons. Eventually however a man named Hsi Ching informed him that he knew the location of the village and along with Hsi Ching his son Leyland and other trained fighters he headed to the village to free it from the vampires. They fought and were able to kill these golden Vampires one by one, though Van Helsings group incourred heavy casualties including Hsi Ching. The last of these Golden Vampires was slain in its own temple where it regularly tortured and bled its victims. After the last of these Vampires was slain Dracula emerged to confront Van Helsing. Since his death at the hands of Van Helsing Dracula had been resurrected and destroyed many times. Having headed to this village after his latest resurection, Dracula had taken control of the golden Vampires and had been using them to bring a reign of terror over the village. Now confronting Van Helsing after so many years Dracula and Van Helsing fought with one another once again. Dracula badly beat Van Helsing, but just as Dracula was about to lunge at Van Helsing and strike the killing blow Van Helsing struck a silver spear through the Vampires heart Once again Dracula died before Van Helsing's eyes crumbling into nothing but ash.
Final confrontation with Dracula and Death
Dracula was resurrected yet again, this time his reign of terror spread from the east through the Carpathian Mountains to London England. Van Helsing followed the Vampire count through these locations eventually facing him for the last time in London. The two fought with each other atop a horse and carrage. During the course of the fight Dracula threw Van Helsing from the carrage, however the carrage soon crashed afterward. Van Helsing was able to destroy Dracula one last time by ramming the broken cartwheel which was made from wood into the Vampires heart where he perished once more. After this however Van Helsing died from his injuries. He was buried in Chelsea where his last confrontation with the count had been, Dracula's ashes were scattered just a few feet away from Van Helsings grave by one of his disciples.
100 years later Van Helsings grandson Lorrimor Van Helsing would continue his grandfathers work researching supernatural creatures such as Vampires Witches and Demons. He would also do battle with Dracula when Dracula was ressurected by one of his disciples. Lorrimor appears to have been very affected by his Grandfathers work not only holding it in highest regard but also having a massive portrait of his Grandfather in the middle of his library.
Behind the scenes
Dr Van Helsing was played by Peter Cushing who would go on to play his Grandson Lorrimor Van Helsing
Van Helsing was arguably Peter Cushing's most famous role. The name Peter Cushing has arguably gone on to become as famous for vampire hunting as Van Helsing, with their being many references to Peter Cushing as a vampire hunter in popular culture, including in the from Dusk till Dawn series when discusssing the weaknesses of Vampires one character mentions "Peter Cushing does that all the time", and an episode of the British sitcom the Young Ones when the character Mike whilst thinking of what to do with the Vampire locked in their bathroom exclaims "Peter Cushing we gotta drive a stake through his heart"
Van Helsing was also one of Peter Cushings favourite roles. He once stated in an interview "Give up playing Van Helsing in the Dracula's over my dead body." He also said that he hoped Hammer would have scripts ready for future Dracula and Frankenstein films "which I can paly in a wheelchair"
Peter Cushing also apeared in two other Hammer vampire films "the Vampire Lovers" and "Twins of Evil"
Van Helsing appeared in Horror of Dracula, The Brides of Dracula, The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires and Dracula AD 1972, his grandson [also played by Cushing] appeared in Dracula AD 1972 and The Satanic rites of Dracula.
Whilst the legend of the seven golden Vampires was Van Helsing's last appearance there were plans for yet another Dracula film called "Kali Devil Bride of Dracula" which would have seen Van hHelsing fight Vampire in India alongside Religious sects.
Several inconsistencies exist in the Dracula series with regards to Van Helsing. In the first film of the series Horror of Dracula Jonathan Harkers diary claims that it is the year 1885, "the Brides of Dracula" also says in the opening narration that Transylvania is "still the home of magic and devilry" at the end of the nineteenth century, whilst "Legend of the seven Golden Vampires" takes place in 1901. In "Dracula Ad 1972" however Dracula'a last battle with Van Helsing is depicted as taking palce in 1872 long before any of the previous films. Hammer did not actually intend for "Dracula AD 1972" to follow on from Horror of Dracula with "Scars of Dracula" intending to inaggurate a new series. Fans however have still insisted that all of the Dracula films take place within the same canon often ignoring the dates as there are many inconsitencies with the dates in the series, many insist that "the legend of the seven golden vampires" takes place after "Scars of Dracula" but before the opening sequence in "Dracula AD 1972"
Van Helsings grandson Lorrimor and his son Leyland are both seen in the series, but his wife is never seen. Some however have speculated that his wife is Mariane the young woman he saves in "The Brides of Dracula"
Based on the character Abraham Van Helsing from Bram Stokers original Novel.
Vampire Kill record
.Dracula [3 times, exposed to sunlight, stabbed with silver sharp, staked with carriage wheel]
.Jonathan Harker [offscreen but most likely staked whilst sleeping during the day]
.Lucy holmwood [staked through the heart]
.Baron Meinster [ trapped under the shadow of a cross burned to death as a result]
.Baroness Meinster [staked with her consent]
.Baron Meinsters Vampire consorts [ trapped in burning windmill death not shown but highly likely]
.Two of the Golden Vampires, including the final one [ burnt one to death with flaming torch, stabbed other in the back with silver sharp]