As we sail towards the end of 2023, it’s an excellent time to remind ourselves of what could have been with a big horror movie that underperformed for various reasons.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter brought us a new Dracula adaptation and a memorable-looking Drac in the shape of Javier Botet. Still, it could have featured a wider world of Gothic horror.
SYFY Wire spoke to producer Bradley J. Fischer about the film, and he revealed the film had a tantalizing cameo and a Dracula transformation that were dropped.
“We went through a lot of different approaches to the story, but nothing that was wildly different than the movie that we ended up with,” said Fischer. “We actually had one ending for quite a while. The scene in the tavern was Clemens [Corey Hawkins] being approached by a strange, shadowy dude, who starts talking to him, seems to have some knowledge of the experiences that he went through, and introduces himself as Van Helsing. Then we kind of left it there.”
In addition to that potential teasing cameo, Fischer and makeup artist Göran Lundström revealed one of Dracula’s transformations would have taken on a Lupine transformation not in the finished film. Dracula would originally have had five forms, but test audiences were left confused by that.
“[Director] Andre [Øvredal] didn’t want a hairy werewolf; he wanted a werewolf who’s lost his hair because he’s not well,” explains the makeup whiz. “This would’ve been the second stage … [this] really weak-looking, gaunt kind of werewolf thing and very asymmetrical and deformed.”
“People were very confused about that as an additional form that Dracula took,” recalled Fischer. “So we had to make a decision to listen to the audience and make sure that that confusion didn’t get the better of everyone.”
The Last Voyage of the Demeter focuses on the chapter from the Dracula novel where the undead legend is secured in the hold of a ship as he sails for England. The crew, unaware of what they are carrying, end up in a grisly faceoff with a rather animalistic vampire.
André Øvredal, who directed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and The Autopsy of Jane Doe, saw his adaptation endure a tough time, as myriad issues have scuttled this particular ship. It’s a shame considering how well-received Javier Botet’s Dracula has been.
After a poor box office showing, middling reviews (we liked it), and takeover issues preventing its release in many overseas territories, there might be a shred of hope for the movie’s chances with a healthy home showing, even if it does come less than three weeks after its release in theaters.
Alongside Javier Botet are Corey Hawkins (In the Heights) Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones), and David Dastmalchian (Suicide Squad).
The Last Voyage of the Demeter is available to buy or rent now.