After two decades in development hell, Andre Ovredal’s The Last Voyage of The Demeter has arrived in theaters to deafening indifference from an audience that could not seem to care less.

While this reaction may initially seem puzzling, as the film is equipped both with name-brand recognition (being adapted from a chapter in Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and a popcorn-ready premise (Alien but on an old-world sailing ship), the capsizing of this particular vessel was, in truth, a foregone conclusion.

Consider the B-movie: once the lifeblood of the theater industry, they were often trashy and lurid, with little pretense about being anything else.

They were cheap, no-frills affairs that played the hits to a faithful audience and were practically designed in a lab to make back their cheap production budgets.

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But in the modern day, these low-brow flicks exist in something like limbo, simultaneously ruling the box office while having seemingly vanished from memory.

How does such a contradiction persist? Well, consider the average hit movie. While period pieces and Oscar bait still have their place, audiences have proven time and again that franchises rule the roost.

Therein lies the contradiction, though. The franchises that dominate theaters today are largely identified by adapting comic books, a form of media arguably more B-movie than B-movies themselves.

At their inception, funny books were meant as broad stories that a young readership could latch onto so that their publishers might continue overcharging the toy and candy advertisers that resided within their pages.

Nevertheless, when presented in a streamlined and modernized form by major studios, audiences ate up these stories once more, making them the blockbusters of the century.

But success often proves a double-edged sword and this proved no different for the denizens of the superhero genre. Suddenly, these stories turned from mere disposable entertainment to the pop culture mythology of the new millennium.

So what happens to the B-movie when their creators are now convinced of some kind of grand significance? Well, you get the current blockbuster landscape.

A bunch of self-impressed yokels convinced that their latest airing of grievances aimed at the kids who beat them up in elementary school is in serious consideration for this generation’s Citizen Kane.

You see, the true B-movie has been banished to arguably even more obscurity than it has ever seen. Simple, no-frills fun that wants to do nothing more than entertain has largely been confined to the dustbin by a mainstream seemingly more interested in the culture war than leisure.

And what about our dear Demeter and her titular last voyage. Well, as is to be expected from a simple schlock fest in this day and age, it went completely under the radar, ignored by all but the most dogmatic Dracula devotees.

Does there exist an escape for those who prefer their flicks with a lack of pomp and circumstance? Of course, but it is available for those willing to dig.

Should you wish to unearth the old-school heart of B-movies, one must dig to reach the gory, rewarding center.


By admin