- “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. 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 is the main antagonist of the 1995 film, Jumanji, portrayed by Jonathan Hyde in the movie (who also played Alan's father, Sam Parrish in the film. He frequently appears the 1996 animated series, voiced by Sherman Howard. A re-imagined version of Van Pelt appears in the 2017 film, albeit Professor Russell Van Pelt is much closer to Ashton Phillips.
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 tall, and sporting muttonchops facial hair belonging to the 18-1900s era. His 19th century jungle expeditionary uniform with pith helmet, cape, black boots are as much of his trademark as his hunting gun, never appearing without any of them. In the 1995 film, he has a gold tooth, in conjunction with wearing gold rings on his fingers and have pockets full of antique victorian coins of solid gold.
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 hunting, 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 as trophies on his wall. His constant attempts of hunting Alan might be associated to the latter'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 honorable 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 offered Alan any last words in the 1995 film, which incidentally happened to be: "Jumanji", just as the game was won by him, and this enabled the game to undo it's damages and mend the timeline by taking everything it unleashed back into it's inner realm, much to Van Pelt's dismay. His hunting lifestyle also evokes competitive natures and Van Pelt takes great pride in having driven a species to extinction or two, and treasures their remains with sentimental attachment. In spite of being honourable and well mannered, 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 that Van Pelt was terrified of happened to be the intimidating Stalker, whom he encountered when Jumanji was threatened with destruction by Peter in regards to Alan's likely death; therefore to prevent this, 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, and couldn't say no to him. Even though the three were in fear of the grim reaper, they did not get on well with each other, eventually resulting in Van Pet intending to bend their instructions and merely blast the children on sight, regardless if they weren't both together.
He could also be scared off by the game's dice when taken into the dimension, due to the red glare that they gave off when they were taken into the game's inner realm.
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 elephant gun. He has mounted child heads in his hunting trophy collection, and the African-looking masks are probably mounted Manjis, who were ambiguously human, too. A special gem in his collection was the horn of a legendary Rhinoceros cousin known as a Juroceros, which Van Pelt made extinct before Alan arrived in Jumanji and regretting not being able 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 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 Ludwig Von Richtor, Van Pelt used weasels to counter Von Richtor's eagles. He also apparently once had a housekeeping maid but had shot her for undisclosed reasons.
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 the horn of a rhino trophy 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).
Van Pelt appears in the 1995 film as the main antagonist and the only human character to be released from the Jumanji game into Brantford. He takes the place of the story book's lost Guide.
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.
As part of promotional tie-ins for the 1995 film and animated series, Van Pelt appears prominently in the Milton Bradley board game, two of three Milton Bradley produced three variant Jigsaw Puzzles, the 1996 Jumanji game for the PC, the 1997 Hasbro LCD handheld game.
Main Article: Russell Van Pelt
When Jumanji transformed itself into a video game to adapt to modern times, the big game hunter Van Pelt's role was taken over by a archeologist now going by the name of Professor Russell Van Pelt.
- Elephant gun, sniper rifle, and pistol:
- 1995 film: His weapon of choice is a modified lever-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 barreled, elephant gun 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 Rhinoceros trophy's 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 injure opponents. It has a leash that can hook onto ledges to prevent falls or restrain 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.
|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 • Ralph Smigel|
|Animals||Rhinoceros • Elephant • Monkey • Crocodile • Lion • Bat • Mosquito • Spider • Pelican • 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 • Brantford Pawnshop|