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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Neil Marshall set to direct "The Last Voyage of Demeter".

This one probably falls into the category of Don't Get Your Hopes Up Yet, but I can't bring myself to care. The mere concept of a seafaring vampire movie directed by Neil Marshall causes me to froth at the mouth.
The Last Voyage Of Demeter concerns Dracula's journey from Transylvania to England, during which Dracula killed all but one of the ship's crew. Unlike every other aspect of the Dracula story, the voyage to England hasn't really been explored much, but under Neil Marshall's direction I'm hoping for it to grow into an awesomely schlocky, 19th-century version of Alien. It's really an ideal subject choice for this type of fanfic-esque movie because in most Dracula adaptations, the the sea voyage remains almost entirely offscreen in order to set up a more dramatic scene when the ghost-ship drifts into the English harbour with nothing but a coffin and a madman onboard. This way you can pick your favourite Dracula adaptation, and watch it with  The Last Voyage Of Demeter sandwiched into the middle! The Demeter story shouldn't step on the toes of other adaptations, but it's still not likely to include a whole bunch of irrelevent additions like one sees in loose adaptations such as Guy Ritchie's Holmes franchise or the recent Three Musketeers movie.

From The Descent, by Neil Marshall. (source)
For those unfamiliar with Neil Marshall, he's an English filmmaker who specialises in gleefully violent, suspenseful horror movies like Dog Soldiers, The Descent, and my all-time favourite, Doomsday. (Doomsday is a film of such brain-vomiting awesomeness that I can barely articulate its multitude of virtues. If you like the idea of a Scottish apocalypse movie featuring medieval knights, a badass female protagonist with a bionic eye, cannibal goth/punk cults, a deadly plague, Dr Bashir from Star Trek: DS9 playing a Tony Blair-esque Prime Minister, and a chase between motorcycles and a steam train, then... click here to read more?) Most recently Neil Marshall directed the Blackwater episode of Game Of Thrones, a self-contained seige warfare episode that received rave reviews and is (in my opinion) better than many of the extended battle sequences in Lord of the Rings. 
Right now the casting of Demeter is rather up-in-the-air. Although Noomi Rapace (!!) and Ben Kingsley's names have been semi-attached for a couple of years, neither have been confirmed and it seems like Ben Kingsley may have dropped out. Viggo Mortensen has just been offered the lead role (which isn't Dracula; I wouldn't be surprised if Dracula turns out to be a straight-up monster role rather than a "character"), but there's always a possibility these things can change right up until filming starts. I have no idea how excited other people are going to be about this movie, but OH BOY, AM I. Even discounting the likelihood of a Viggo Mortensen/Noomi Rapace combo, we have these elements to consider:
  • ALIEN. This concept is straight-up Alien. Except instead of being in space, all the action will take place in an ocean-going Victorian ship that can creak ominously all the time and be crewed by a cast of superstitious, disloyal, angry and terrified sailors. I read a few sites today that wondered if it would be possible to retain suspense when the audience alread knows that all (or almost all) of the main characters are marked for death from the get-go, but... isn't that like most horror movies anyway? These things are all in the execution (pun unintended), not to mention the fact that with a cast that necessitates the presence several original, non-Dracula-canon characters, there's a definite possibility for a couple of survivors to be left come the end-credits.
  • VAMPIRES. This post is mostly just speculation at the moment, but I feel like Neil Marshall would probably go for the absolute opposite type of vampire from the True Bloods and Twilights we're seeing a lot of right now. Neil Marshall likes to make movies about monsters and grotesques, and old-school Dracula is a monster and a grotesque rather than the dapper Dracula we see in most cinema adaptations. Temporarily unbound by the constraints of having to act like an aristocrat and a gentleman, the voyage to England is the perfect setting for Dracula to turn into the kind of feral villain we see in Dog Soldiers and Doomsday.
  • PERIL AT SEA. A sailing ship is the perfect setting for a monster movie because it's 100% isolated and any attempts to get to safety depend on the weather and on the ability of the crew to work together as a unit. Also, Victorian sailing ships already provide unnumbered opportunities for gruesome death without the addition of a murderous vampire onboard, so I have no doubt that Neil Marshall will be able to exploit every available circumstance for gore and terror.

Viggo the Vampire Slayer. Potentially.
(Postscript: Dracula should obviously be played by Tilda Swinton.)

The Last Voyage Of Demeter at IMDB.
Bloody Disgusting: Viggo Mortensen Offered Lead In Dracula Tale, ‘The Last Voyage of the Demeter’


  1. I'm not one for horror but you have managed to make me excited at the prospect of this movie (starting with a picture from my favorite Dracula movie was a good move.)

  2. i'm not what anyone would really describe as a "horror fan" -- i get scared easily, and haven't actually SEEN enough horror movies to refine my tastes -- but i love neil marshall's over-the-top action thriller take on horror. i have high hopes for Demeter!

    nosferatu used to be my favourite dracula, but then i saw Bela Lugosi's with live music from philip glass and the kronos quartet. AMAZINGGG. (i still haven't seen gary oldman's dracula all the way thru, though.)

  3. I call that good news. I always thought the Demeter's log was the scariest bit of Dracula and we know Neil Marshall's good with this kind of material.
    I like your point about the similarity to Alien - what's the Nostromo but a spacefaring Demeter with a happy ending?

  4. i hope they cast a bunch of gross-looking realistic extras like in master and commander.

  5. Y E S correct vote

  6. I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought the voyage of the Demeter was the original Alien prototype! When I read it as an adult, the resemblance really struck me. I'm also interested to see what the movie's going to do with the vampire character. Movie adaptations in the post-Lugosi era have made Dracula (and vampires in general) all about sex, which is certainly there in the book, but the Demeter passage is actually the least sexy part of it.

  7. I know nothing about the Dracula story, so this may be obvious, but what route does a ship take to get from Transylvania to England? Horror genre, so am I right in assuming north?

  8. well, i don't know about the ~route~ but it's a sea voyage, so geographically speaking i'd assume they're going west and then a bit north.

  9. As I remember it, they left from one of the Black Sea ports, then went through the Dardanelles, across the Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibraltar and then north.

  10. Ooooooh. I love 'The Descent', so this could be *so good*.... :)