- “You miserable coward! Come back and face me, like a man!”
- —Van Pelt to Alan Parrish
- —Van Pelt's traditional curse
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, broad shouldered and well groomed and dressed man who wears an 18-1900s british hunter's uniform with a 10 gallon Pith Helmet, red/black cape and black boots. In the 1995 film novel, Carl Bentley reports Van Pelt on his police radio as being approximately 160 pounds, 5,11 ft, and sporting facial hair belonging to the 18-1900s era.
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. Nevertheless, he is an honourable gentleman that lives by what he refers to as the Law of Jumanji (Hunt or be hunted) and well spoken towards others, often saying: "Blast!" whenever something goes wrong, and can reason with people down to trading for more ammunition or a replacement firearm in exchange from antique gold coins. He even takes pride in having driven a species to extinction or two, and treasures their remains with sentimental attachment. Van Pelt had shown that old habits do indeed die hard as shown right after thanking Alan from saving him from downing in Quicksand, he pulled a pistol out and attempted to shoot him regardless. 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 was first introduced after Alan's second turn on playing the Jumanji game, releases the imperialist great white hunter, who immediately began firing and hunting him. In the library, Alan told Sarah that he and Van Pet have been enemies for many years for reasons he couldn't comprehend other than apparently offering offence to the hunter. Another reason for their perpetual rivalry is also explained when he reasons not shooting Sarah or the kids on purpose is because: "You didn't roll the dice. Alan did" implying he is hunting down Alan because it was Alan who rolled the dice and landed himself in Jumanji's realm to become sport for Van Pelt, and eventually ended up rolling the dice again which 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.
Arriving in Brantford with his pump-action elephant gun, he ran out of ammunition and he postponed his hunt to find replacement ammo at a gun shop but ended up having to switch his weapon with a sniper because his previous weapon's bullets had stopped being produced years ago. He tried 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 and Alan. 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 told him to drop the dice, he ordered 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. When 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 Pelt 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.
In 1995, Milton Bradley produced three variant Jigsaw Puzzles as promotional tie-ins for the 1995 Jumanji film. Each Jigsaw has a different style but all three have 100 pieces each.
- Jumanji Painting
An identical print of the Jumanji board game's painting as it was also depicted on the Milton Bradley Board Game. Against a jungle green background, the bronze zig-zag binds the stylised portraits of Van Pelt, a Monkey, a Rhinoceros and an Elephant against deep jungles, the vast lake and volcanic activity all unified by the speared Jumanji name.
- 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.
Van Pelt appears as one of five possible dangers in the 1997 Hasbro LCD handheld game. As a tie-in for the animated series, the LCD sprites and the console's front corner uses Van Pelt's artwork from the cartoon, while the back of the packing leaflet reuses his portrait from the Milton Bradley board game. As the most dangerous character in the jungle, the only weapon which will defeat Van Pelt is the rifle. If the player decides to roll the dice against him, the dice must match anything from a 1 up to a 9.
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.
- Elephant gun & Sniper rifle, Pistol:
- 1995 film: His weapon of choice is a modified pump action 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.
- TV: Although Van Pelt has a wide arsenal of weaponry in his lodge, his weapon of choice is his double barrelled, elephant shotgun and is never seen without it. His gun is extremely powerful and the only effective way to rid of dangerous creatures like the Minotaur. When the weapon is dry of ammunition, the butt is an effective club that can knock down a fully grown man. He also has a pistol concealed in his uniform.
- Tracking: 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. He is known to even use a magnifying class for closer inspection.
- Invulnerability: Despite being slashed by a saber, crushed to death by collapsed paint pots, mauled by a mother Lioness, impalement from a Rhino horn or completely swallowed by creatures, Van Pelt has always emerged unscathed, making him un-killable as he is a game essential character. Alan has even acknowledged that he is indestructible and the only way to stop him would be to either imprison or throw him into a bottomless pit.
- Swagger stick: Akin to 1800s army officers, Van Pelt carries a swagger stick to restrain or pain opponents. It has a leash that can hook onto ledges to prevent falls or opponents, evidently when hanging on the edge of a bottomless pit and intending to take Alan down with him.
- Hound horn: When needing extra help when hunting prey, Van Pelt can blow on a horn that will summon a duo of ravenous black mastiff like hunting dogs to chase prey. The hounds can however be turned on their master if they hear the horn being blown by someone else.
- Saber: When traveling through the ever-growing Jumanji jungle where the vegetation grows faster than bamboo, Van Pelt uses a Saber to cut his way through plants in his path.
- Tractor: When taking multiple or very large prey back to his Lodge, Van Pelt drives a steampunk, locomotive tractor around the jungles.
- Gold coins: When trying to trade for replacement ammunition at the gun shop, his weapon's required ammo type ceased production in 1903 and he ended up resorting to trade for a new weapon altogether. Since there was a five day waiting period and forms to fill, Van Pelt bypassed these with a bribe of a handful of exotic gold coins.
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. This blurred reality trait is often used in notably influential media such as works and adaptations of J.M. Barrie and L.Frank Baum; (Footage from the popular 1939 Wizard of Oz film appears in the 1995 Jumanji film, while Robin Williams appeared in the 1991 film Hook, based on Barrie's Peter Pan media).
- 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).
- Van Pelt often refers to Alan as "Sonny Jim", alluding to the dual performance.
- 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.
|Books||Novel • Film novel • Zathura|
|Media||1995 film • TV Series • Zathura: A Space Adventure • Welcome to the Jungle • Jumanji 3|
|Games||Board Game • Jigsaw • Trading Cards • LCD Game • PC Game • PS2 Game|
|Jumanji 1995 Film|
|Brantford Characters||Alan Parrish • Sarah Whittle • Judy Shepherd • Peter Shepherd • Sam Parrish • Carol Parrish • Carl Bentley • Nora Shepherd • Martha Shepherd • Jim Shepherd • General Angus Parrish • Caleb Sproul • Benjamin Sproul • Mrs. Thomas • Billy Jessup|
|Animals||Rhinoceros • Elephant • Monkey • Crocodile • Lion • Bat • Mosquito • Spider • Pelican • Jaguar • Hippopotamus • Zebra|
|Vegetation||Pod • Purple Flower|
|Weather||Monsoon • Earthquake • Quicksand • Tornado • Thunderstorm|
|Objects||Jumanji (board game)|
|Locations||Jumanji Realm • Brantford • Parrish Mansion • Parrish Shoe Company • Sir Sav-A-Lot|