|“||You miserable coward! Come back and face me, like a man!||„|
|~ Van Pelt to Alan Parrish|
|~ Van Pelt's curse when missing a target|
Van Pelt is a big game hunter who resides within the deepest darkest dimension of the cursed board game, Jumanji. He is the main antagonist of the 1995 film, Jumanji, the 1996 animated series and a reimagined version appears in the 2017 film. he wears a Hunter's uniform with a Pith Helmet. Van Pelt's portrait is carved into the top left corner of the cover of the Jumanji board game, making him one of the game's main dangers.
He was portrayed by Jonathan Hyde in the movie (who also played Alan's father, Sam Parrish in the film), and voiced by Sherman Howard in the animated series.
Van Pelt is an elderly, well groomed and dressed man who wears a hunter's uniform with a Pith Helmet, red/black cape and black boots. His weapon of choice is a modified Winchester M1901 Shotgun rifle. The shotgun had been modified with a custom stock, a false box magazine and a large tube placed over the barrel in order to make it appear to be a large caliber elephant gun. But when he ran out of ammunition, (which cannot be replenished since it hasn't been manufactured since 1903), a Daewoo USAS-12 is used after convincing the gun shop owner to bypass the mandatory waiting period with a bribe. It is outfitted with a scope, drum magazine, and suppressor to make it look like a sniper rifle.
Van Pelt is merciless and cruel, trying at all costs to hunt his prey to the very end. He hunts men and animals to display them on his wall. His constant attempts of hunting Alan might be associated to Alan's cowardice, or Van Pelt's tastes for human hunting. Van Pelt's hunting skills and tracking abilities are second to none, as he can sniff out his prey by their scent, and track their pace by observing the environment left behind them. At least in the animated series, the only being in Jumanji Van Pelt was terrified of happened to be the Stalker, whom he encountered when the grim reaper employed him for a mission to hunt Alan and the kids. He could also be scared off by the game's dice when taken into the dimension, due to the red glare that gave off.
Van Pelt is first introduced after one of Alan's turns on Jumanji, which releases the hunter, who immediately begins chasing him. He tells Sarah that he did not shoot her because "You didn't roll the dice. Alan did" implying he is hunting down Alan because Alan released him from the game (as part of the rules). It can also be noted that part of the reason why Van Pelt is hunting him down because Alan is not man enough to face him, since Alan is always running away from him like a coward.
After he runs out of bullets, he switches his weapon at a gun shop with a sniper because his previous weapon's bullets had stopped being produced years ago. He tries to shoot Alan from a distance when he is taken in by a police officer (his childhood friend), then chases after Sarah and the kids to steal the game so Alan will come to him for it, but his plan is once again foiled by Peter. His next appearance is at the climax, when he holds both Alan and Sarah at gunpoint when he is about to throw the dices.
When Van Pelt tells him to drop the dice, he orders Alan to start running again so that he can chase him. However, Alan refuses to run off this time, admitting that even though he's still scared, he no longer finds in his heart to run away from what's he afraid of and instead face it to get it over with. Amazed, Van Pelt acknowledges Alan of acting like a real man, and ask for any last words before he pulls the trigger. It was then the dice gave in the right number that allows Alan to win the game, and once he says "Jumanji", all of the animals and dangers of the game are sucked back into it by tornado-force winds, including Van Pelt himself, much to his dismay.
In the Jumanji animated series, Van Pelt appears as a frequently reccurring antagonistic big game hunter within the dimension of Jumanji and even has his portrait carved on the game board's front diorama. His 19th century jungle expeditionary uniformed pith helmet, cape, black boots are as much of his trademark as his double barrel pump action elephant shotgun, never appearing without any of them (even wearing his helmet and cradling his gun in bed). He frequently yells "Blast!" whenever things don't go his way, as well as "Sonny Jim" also appears once in a while as a nod to the 1995 film.
Like the 1995 film, Van Pelt is a central part of the game, Human or animal, almost everything is fair game and always makes him a present threat to everything and everyone (with the exception of the Stalker), but often seeks to kill Alan Parrish in order to complete his collection of trophies. According to Van Pelt, everyone must live by the Law of Jumanji and is either to be hunted or a hunter. The not hunting, Van Pet dwells in a shack upon a hilltop that houses his collection of trophies and a selection of appropriate weaponry, although his frequent weapon of choice is his double barrel elephant gun. He has mounted child heads in his hunting collection. And the African-looking masks are probably mounted Manjis, who are Ambiguously Human, too. A special gem in his collection was the horn of a legendary Rhinoceros cousin known as Juroceros, who Van Pelt made extinct before Alan arrived in Jumanji and regretting not being ale to take it home due to its size and was furious to have it stolen from him. Van Pelt enjoyed a spot of tea at home while listening to relaxing opera sounding music that was always played inside his house, while at night, Van Pelt took both his pith helmet and even his gun to bed.
While Van Pet tends to live a solitary life and most animals within Jumanji are prey to him, Van Pelt is master to a duo of ravenous black mastiffs hounds that respond to his commands by blowing on a horn. In addition to his hunting dogs, he has a monkey butler and Peter gains the ability to command an elephant while being possessed by Van Pelt. And during his competition with his rival Von Richtor, Van Pelt used weasels to counter Von Richtor's eagles. He also apparently once had a housekeeper maid but shot her for undisclosed reasons. When Jumanji was threatened with destruction by Peter in regards to Alan's likely death, Stalker recruited Van Pelt with Trader Slick and Professor Ibsen to dispose of them, not only because they were the trio's frequent human encounters but all of whom were terrified of the grim reaper even though the three did not get on well with each other.
In the series, as he is part of the game and, unlike the movie, never leaves the jungle, his moral and role are even more twisted. As he is a vital part of the game's mechanic, Van Pelt is unkillable as he was once impaled by a rhino horn and didn't die, making him unable to be defeated by conventional means. If he somehow dies (although it is very difficult to do so), the victor will immediately be forced by the game to take his place as the hunter of Jumanji and resume his role (which almost happened to Peter). Also, later in the series, and not much unlike the movie, he begins to learn the game's mechanics. Although, in this case, since he never left the jungle, he understands it a little more, knowing exactly how to act according to the rules and even use it to his advantage.
- Secret symbol: Saber
- Number: 5
In the Milton Bradley board game, like the film, Van Pelt's portrait is on the front cover, while having a danger card of his own. Rolling a Saber on the rescue die within 5 seconds will defeat Van Pelt's threat.
- Wild Hunter (Elephant Totem): The player controls Sarah Whittle in a jungle, firing oranges to defeat animals as well as the ruthless big game hunter Van Pelt, in order to rescue Alan. The player must avoid projectile strawberries and must also avoid hitting Alan or Peter.
Main Article: Russel Van Pelt
When Jumanji transformed itself into a video game to adapt to modern times, Van Pelt was transformed with it. No longer a big game hunter, Van Pelt was now a former colleague of Smolder Bravestone, Van Pelt seeks control over Jumanji, having gained empathetic power over the fauna of Jumanji though the Jaguar's Eye.
Van Pelt's role in the 1995 film is believed to serve as an allegory for Sam Parrish's lesson about standing to face fears.
- The most obvious clue being the fact that both Van Pelt and Sam Parrish are played by Jonathan Hyde in the film.
- The other clues being when the hunter tells Sarah that he did not shoot her because he is hunting down Alan because Alan released him from the game (as part of the rules).
- It can also be noted that part of the reason why Van Pelt is hunting him down because Alan is not man enough to face him, since Alan is always running away from him like a coward, akin to Sam Parrish inciting his son to follow his meaningful lesson about standing to face his fears. His clue from the crystal ball even refers to the player feeling just like a child in front of him.
- At the climax, Alan refuses to run off this time, admitting that even though he's still scared, he no longer finds in his heart to run away from what's he afraid of and instead face it to get it over with. Amazed, Van Pelt acknowledges Alan of finally acting like a real man, followed by Alan returning to 1969 and reconciling with his father to have a man to man talk later.