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Is The Last Voyage of The Demeter Based on A True Story? Real History Behind Dracula Film

The Last Voyage of the Demeter is here to tell and often-forgotten part of Dracula's infamous story. Here's everything you need to know.

By Tyler McCarthy
(from left) Anna (Aisling Franciosi) and Clemens (Corey Hawkins) in The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023)

Dracula is once again returning to the big screen in The Last Voyage of the Demeter on Aug. 11. However, despite the countless Dracula stories told in media throughout the years, this movie promises to tell the tale of an often-forgotten part of the infamous monster’s history. 

The movie tells the tale of how Dracula made his way from his home in Romania all the way to Britain where he began to wreak his very well-known havoc on nobles and peasants alike in his many portrayals throughout the years that made the vampire legend the behemoth we know and love today. Some of our favorite projects like Buffy The Vampire SlayerThe Lost Boys, Interview with a Vampire,  and even Twilight wouldn’t exist if Dracula didn’t make that faithful journey across the sea on what would become the last voyage of the good ship Demeter. 

RELATED: Last Voyage of the Demeter: Liam Cunningham aka Ser Davos sets sail again, with Dracula rather than dragons

But since the story is so heavily rooted in the history of the original novel by writer Bram Stoker, some may be curious where the line between fact and fiction ends as well as where the inspiration for The Last Voyage of the Demeter truly comes from. Fortunately, we’re here to help. 

Was Dracula a Real Person? 

Javier Botet as Nosferatu in The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023)

OK, let’s get this part out of the way: Vampires, as depicted in Stoker’s 1897 model and the subsequent media (drinking blood, aversion to sunlight, stake through the heart, “no garlic for me, thanks” etc.) do not exist (at least as far as we know). 

Does that mean you have nothing to be afraid of when something goes bump in the night? No such luck, friends. Stoker based the character of Dracula on a real-life person who spent his life proving that human beings are way more messed up than any monster a writer can come up with. 

The vampiric character is based on the 15th-century Romanian prince Vlad Tepes, better known throughout history as Vlad the Impaler. However, if you were to meet the man, he’d prefer the name Dracula — yup, his name was actually Dracula. He took the moniker after his father, nobleman Vlad II Dracul. It literally means “son of Dracul.” He adopted it as his sole moniker after he was initiated into a secret order of Christian knights known as the Order of the Dragon, according to HISTORY.

It’s well known that Vlad the Impaler earned a reputation for his brutal torture and military tactics that included vertically impaling his conquered victims on spikes and (somehow) fates much worse. We won’t get into some of the gory details of Vlad’s life and proclivities, but this 2013 article from NBC News was more than happy to for those who are curious. Let’s just say the real-life figure did some things that make getting bitten on the neck seem like a trip to the spa. (Humans, you know?)  

Perhaps the biggest inspiration Vlad Tepes had for Stoker was the idea of the consumption of blood. Whether fact or merely a really, really, really disturbing rumor, it is said that Vlad once dined in the forest among writhing impaled foes and allegedly dipped his bread in their blood… Yikes. 

What is The Last Voyage of the Demeter Based on? 

(from left) Anna (Aisling Franciosi) and Clemens (Corey Hawkins) in The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023)

Although it’s an entire feature-length movie, The Last Voyage of the Demeter is actually based on a single chapter (Chapter 7, specifically) from Bram Stoker’s famous novel. While it may seem difficult to base a whole movie on just one small part of a larger story, it’s quite a robust and mysterious chapter with a lot of room to fill in the blanks with a great story. 

The events in the book are pretty simple. As a lot of the Dracula novel does, the story is told through a fictional news clipping from “The DailyGraph” that is pasted into the character Mina Murray’s journal. The reporter describes a massive and violent storm that occurred the night the Demeter finally made landfall. Despite the weather conditions, all its sails were down and it was moving erratically and dangerously before it missed port entirely and ran aground nearby. 

Upon inspection, investigators discovered that the captain of the ship had tied himself to the helm and had been dead for a few days when the ship finally made it to land. In one hand he held a crucifix. Hidden on his person was a bottle with a note in it explaining the events that led him to this state. The voyage started normal enough but soon crew members began to disappear in the night one-by-one.

Eventually, only the captain and the first mate are left on the ship. The first mate goes mad and moves below deck by himself to search all the cargo. He emerges frantic and throws himself overboard declaring “It is here.” Worried he may do the same when faced with the malevolent force that’s on the ship, the captain writes that he would tie himself to the helm rather than abandon his duty. For obvious reasons, the writings stop there.

How does Dracula Escape The Demeter?

Javier Botet as Nosferatu in The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023)

That’s not to say there were no survivors on the Demeter, though. Witnesses at port say they saw a large dog run off the ship as soon as it made landfall, but it vanished into the night never to be seen again… 

But we all know that was no dog and soon after the events of the novel take place and Count Dracula himself begins a vicious reign of terror on the people of Britain. But as for what actually happened on that ship and what led the crew to go mad with fear — fans will finally see that story unfold when they see The Last Voyage of the Demeter.

Catch The Last Voyage of the Demeter only in theaters on Aug 11.