It’s been a while since we’ve had a highly-rated movie that deploys Dracula as a true horror antagonist while utilizing all of the ploys of the genre to make the Prince of Darkness terrifying. In entertainment right now, we’re seeing a move away from romanticized vampires into the premise of vampires being used for comedy.
Easily the prime example of this is the TV series What We Do in the Shadows, which has recently had its fifth season announced for FX and Hulu on July 13. With charismatic British actors in the lead vampiric roles, the mockumentary continues to be a hit. On the big screen, we also saw Nicolas Cage chew it up as Dracula in the comedy Renfield, which focuses on the titular familiar in modern times.
Given this and the other popular uses of vampires in modern media, a true horror take on the legendary being is very interesting and may even be considered novel at this point.
Romance, comedy, and animated vampires
In the late 2000s, vampires became tremendous money-makers at the box office, courtesy of the adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s novels. While the vampires were bloodsuckers, they were framed as the objects of romantic interest throughout Twilight, and at the same time, a more adult angle was taken to romanticize the creatures in the TV series True Blood.
Being such an icon of fiction, Dracula can be deployed almost anywhere for instant recognisability and appeal. This even runs when he’s depicted through animation. Adult Swim’s “The Best of Dracula” video from Robot Chicken boasts over 3 million views in their classic stop-motion format, and at Planet 7 Casino, Count Cashtacular enjoys a similar degree of fandom. The slot game lends to the classic depiction of Dracula, but angles it to be about cash, as the name suggests.
Count Cashtacular is, of course, just one of the hundreds of different ways that artists, creatives, and writers have drawn from and pivoted the character. Still, the original Dracula, the one written by Bram Stoker to be published in 1897, was gothic, dark, and drawn directly from the legends of the accursed bloodsuckers. Given elements were drawn from Vlad the Impaler, it’s easy to see how far-flung comedic or romantic depictions are from the source material.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter brings back the horror
Set for release on August 11, The Last Voyage of the Demeter is based on just one chapter of the Bram Stoker novel. Those who have read the book will recognize the name “Demeter” as being that of the ship that ferries Dracula to London from Romania. On the voyage, each night, Dracula emerges from the crates and cargo to feed on the doomed crew.
That crew will be comprised of Corey Hawkins, Liam Cunningham, Aisling Franciosi, and David Dastmalchian, while Javier Botet will be the actor behind the ever-lurking Dracula. Based on some recent news, and the trailer, The Last Voyage of the Demeter won’t be pulling any punches, either. According to Bloody Disgusting, R is the rating that’s been handed to the flick for its “bloody violence.” Given Dracula’s eating habits, this is only a good sign.
It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen a big-hit movie feature Dracula as a truly dark, evil, and terrifying villain. This summer, The Last Voyage of the Demeter will do exactly that. Hopefully, director André Øvredal of Trollhunter fame will be able to deliver the frights needed to re-establish vampires in the horror genre.
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