Last Voyage of the Demeter Creature Designer Reveals How They Made Dracula Scary Again

The creature design and makeup guru behind 'Last Voyage of the Demeter' talks about the challenge fo making Dracula scary again.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter is the new horror movie that explores one of the last vague sections of the Dracula mythos: what happened during Dracula's trip from Romania to London, England, aboard the sailing vessel The Demeter. In Bram Stoker's Dracula novel, the voyage of the Demeter is only marked by a diary the captain of the ship kept, chronicling the strange and ultimately fatal supernatural events that started happening on the ship. 

In Last Voyage of the Demeter, director André Øvredal and writers Bragi Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz atake that captain's log and expand into an entire doomed voyage, as we actually get to know Captain Elliot (Game of Thrones' Liam Cunningham) and the unfortunate crew of men he hired for the cross-continental voyage to transport Dracula and his belongings to England. 

Getting to know the crew of the Demeter makes it that much worse when the group is literally and figuratively ripped apart by Dracula. The horror is made even more frightening by the creature design for this movie's Dracula, who is played by creature actor Javier Botet (Mama) and looks more fearsome and frightening than just about any other version of the vampire overlord we've ever seen. 

ComicBook.com's Chris Killian sat down with The Last Voyage of the Demeter's creature makeup designer Göran Lundström to talk about the challenge of how to make Dracula scary again, after so many years and different interpretations of the monster. At best, Dracula is now too familiar to the masses to still be scary; at worst, the monster has been humanized and romanticized out of pure villain status as his fame has grown. However, Last Voyage of the Demeter depicts Dracula as the inhumane monstrous killer he originally was depicted as being – as well as clearly commenting on how much death, destruction, diseases, and pain this one unholy creature truly causes to those around him. 

last-voyage-of-the-demeter.jpg
(Photo:

'Bat Nosferatu' Dracula in 'The Last Voyage of the Demeter' 

- Universal Pictures)

"The way they described him when they [the filmmakers] came to me was that it has to be like a monster – a creature. It's not Dracula the way we know. Dracula has been the charming one, the pretty one, if you look at all the different vampire iterations. So we had that in mind: 'It has to be scary,' but also Andre, the director, had a like a design idea he wanted us to start looking at. So it kind of gave us like – it's not a zombie but like a zombified look? It gave us a starting point. It's not what we ended up with – what he had – but it was a starting point."

Indeed, Last Voyage of the Demeter is arguably effective as creature-feature horror because it presents a more vile and feral version of Dracula than we've ever seen, with the monster killing and eating for survival, within an extremely limited feeding ground. Unlike other Dracula stories there's no room on the Demeter for a vampire's subterfuge in a human guise – there is only the monster and its hunger. 

As Lundström tells it, they may have leaned toward the classic Nosferatu movie for inspiration, but they were also making a point to land nowhere near the likes of the highly-stylized and lavish creature and the world of Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula film from the 1990s: 

"We kind of started at one end, and it divided into the bat creature and what we called... 'Man Nosferatu'... And the bat creature developed while we were designing [the man] so we made it more animal-like," Lundström explained. "But I tried really hard not to end up in the Bram Stoker's Dracula movie designs... Because as soon as you start looking at bats and you put them on a human being, you're finding things, elements, look very similar... Besides that, we had Javier Botet: his physique is really cool, so we had him as well. He only lends himself to certain proportions, so that also helped."

The Last Voyage of the Demeter is now in theaters.