‘The Last Voyage of the Demeter’ Review: A Dracula Movie That’s Intriguingly Old-Fashioned, Until Its Conventional Megaplex Demon Shows Up
10.08.2023 - 16:29
Owen Gleiberman Chief Film Critic “The Last Voyage of the Demeter” has a terrible title, but in theory the film sounds intriguing. It wants to be an old-fashioned monster movie, the kind they used to produce back when horror films were actual movies, made with the stodgy well-carpentered rhythm that any movie was made with. “The Last Voyage of the Demeter” is set in 1897, and for most of it we’re aboard a large wooden ship with multiple sails — the Demeter, a handsome relic, since this is already the era when metal ships were coming in — that’s sailing from Bulgaria to London.
The film moves slowly and deliberately, and it’s been shot like some studio sea-voyage period drama from 1966. Much of it is incredibly, knowingly square, with each crew member defined by one or two traits. But this is not just any ship, or any monster.
The film was adapted from the “Captain’s Log” section of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” which chronicles what happens after Dracula stows himself aboard the Demeter to travel to London. There are 50 shipping crates aboard, all shaped like coffins and filled with dirt. And Dracula haunts the vessel like the most spectral of demons — or, at least, he did in the novel, and in the shipboard sequence of “Nosferatu” (1922), where Max Schreck famously played the vampire as a skeletal nightmare zombie aristocrat with sticklike teeth and febrile eyes staring out of his bald rat’s head.
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