Welcome to Script to Pieces! This is a new feature here at Wicked Horror where we will be looking at the best, most interesting and at times most unbelievable horror movies that never happened. Sometimes these will be productions that never came together at all, sometimes they will original incarnations that were completely different from what we wound up with. Each should be fascinating in its own way, because the stories of movies that never see the light of day can sometimes be even more interesting than the stories of those that do.
Vampires were big in the 1990s in a way that I think people tend to forget. I think a huge part of the reason they became my favorite movie monster was the fact that I saw so much of them growing up. Later in the decade we had shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer that handed the creatures of the night over to teenage audiences on a weekly basis. At the same time, they were also being retooled as major action villains in projects like John Carpenter’s Vampires and Blade.
In the early half of the decade, though, they were lavish, romantic monsters. Creatures that would seduce you before they killed you, that was the appeal. And I think a huge chunk of the success of vampires in the ‘90s can be traced back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. That was the flick that kicked it all off. That was the big one that came out of nowhere to strike huge at the box office.
But the movie really wins in what an amazing visual experience it is. This is one of the most uniquely shot films of all time. The production design, costuming and makeup effects are stunning. The cast is, for the most part, excellent. And the two cast members who are most often praised for their performances are Gary Oldman as Dracula and Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing. The feature was a huge hit at the box office, won three Oscars, spawned comic book, pinball, and video game tie-ins.
So why wasn’t there ever a sequel? It seems strange to say of an adaptation of a novel, but both the Universal and Hammer Dracula features spawned their own franchises.
Well, it turns out that Francis Ford Coppola and Columbia had every intention of turning Dracula into a franchise, it just never came to fruition. More interestingly, it would have followed in the steps of the two Dracula franchises before it by spinning off Van Helsing into his own adventure.
Both Dracula’s Daughter and The Brides of Dracula pulled this move by bringing back Van Helsing for the sequel instead of the Count and they were both among the best of their respective franchises.
According to a 1993 Variety article, the proposed Van Helsing film would have been called The Van Helsing Chronicles. In an interview with Coppola, he promised that the feature would see Van Helsing “go against new malevolent forces” and “combat satanic forces from Hong Kong to San Francisco.”
Looking back on another ‘Script to Pieces’ feature, it’s interesting that both the proposed Lost Boys and Dracula prequels would have ended up in San Francisco. While Bram Stoker’s Dracula scribe James V. Hart was on board to produce, the film would actually have been written by David Wilson.
It’s unknown exactly what the movie would have entailed or if the script was ever even completed, but for fans of the film—of which there are many—it’s undeniably endearing to think about what supernatural threats Anthony Hopkins’s Van Helsing could have encountered in his solo outing. It’s also extremely interesting to think that Hopkins was very nearly tied down to a horror franchise long before he ever made a return appearance as Hannibal Lecter.
Featured Image Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images