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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 26, 2023


THE STORY of Count Dracula has been told many times on screen. We remember the first horror flick that really gave us the creeps was “Horror of Dracula”. 

It was a big hit at Universal Theatre in 1958 and shown for several months. We were 12 years o0ld then and we watched it with our parents. We found it so scary.

It started a series of horror movies for Hammer Films and made its British stars, Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing very popular that they made several sequels.

This year, we had “Renfield” with Nicolas Cage as Dracula, and now comes “The Last Voyage of the Demeter”, which is on Prime Video. A

dapted from  the chapter “The Captain’s Log” from the 1897 book, “Dracula”, by Bram Stoker, it shows how Dracula got to England. 

The Demeter is the ship that transported the coffin of Dracula from Transylvania to England and it was also mentioned in the 1979 “Dracula” with Frank Langella as Dracula and the 1992 “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” by Francis Ford Coppola with Gary Oldman as Dracula.

The movie starts with the Demeter already a shipwreck washed ashore in England. The police finds the journal kept by the captain, Elliott (Liam Cunningham, “Game of Thrones”).

Then, in flashback, we see the Demeter a month earlier docked in Bulgaria to pick up wooden crates that came from Romania. 

The men who brought the crates there want to leave right away as they don’t want to be in the area when night falls. 

The ship is looking for crew members and one of those who applied is Clemens (Corey Hawkins, “The Walking Dead”), who says he studied medicine at Cambridge, but they won’t accept him as he is black. 

However, when he saves the captain’s grandson, Toby (Woody Norman), from being crushed by a falling crate, Captain Elliott, in gratitude, hires him. 

Inside the crate, Clemens sees an unconscious woman with strange marks on her neck. 

He tries to revive her through blood transfusion. When she wakes up, she says her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi) and she warns them about a malevolent creature from Transylvania that feeds on human blood. 

She says that she was given by her people as a sacrificial offering to this monster called Dracula and he is now already inside the doomed ship. 

Soon, all the livestock in the ship intended for their food get killed overnight. 

After that, the vampire starts hunting down the human passengers one by one. 

He has wings so he can fly and is very powerful. He probably thinks he is a special vampire on board in an eat-all-you-can cruise where the passengers obviously do not take a bath or even comb their hair.

He gets to easily slaughter everyone, including the helpless boy Toby and Joseph, the ship’s Asian cook, played by Filipino actor Jonjon Briones. 

The movie’s climax shows Clemens and Anna fighting the vampire while a storm is raging on. 

They get to pin him with the sinking ship’s mast. Anna is already a vampire herself so when the sun shines, she gets burned. 

Clemens manages to survive the shipwreck, but so does the vampire, who is able to extricate himself from the mast that pins him down. 

While in a tavern one night, Clemens sees the vampire laughing at him and he vows to hunt the monster down to avenge his dead companions in the doomed Demeter.

This obviously hints of a sequel but it’s too bad the movie didn’t do well at the box office, so we doubt if they’d still come up with a Part 2 showing Clemens confronting the vampire anew.

Norwegian Director Andre Ovredal (“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”) has come up with an expensive looking period movie with great production design. 

The sinister starving creature is also scarily designed, with a real actor playing him, then CGI takes over to makes him look more like a predatory animal than like a man.

The movie manages to deliver some jump scares and the director knows how to build up tension with the movie’s claustrophobic atmosphere since about 90 percent of it takes place right inside the ship. 

This is quite an accomplishment considering the movie is somewhat predictable as the prologue already told to us what happened in the Demeter and it doesn’t really does not add any significant new elements to the mythology of the world’s most infamous vampire.