James Wan talks Aquaman 2: "It’s very heavily inspired by Planet of the Vampires"

(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

After Aquaman blew past $1 billion at the box office, there was little question over whether there would be a sequel. However, what's perhaps surprising is that the follow-up – full title Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom – is taking heavy inspiration from an influential, campy '60s Italian horror.

"Aquaman 2 is very heavily inspired by Planet of the Vampires,” director James Wan tells Total Film in the new issue of the magazine, featuring Dune on the cover. "You can take the boy out of horror but you can never take the horror out the boy."

Planet of the Vampires is a pulpy 1965 space adventure about two ships that land on a mysterious planet, only for members of the two crews to become possessed by an unknown evil. Directed by Italian genre maestro Mario Bava, the movie was met with positive reviews and many have speculated that it was a major influence on Ridley Scott's Alien and its prequel, Prometheus.

This suggests that Wan – who has long been a horror sensation thanks to his movies Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring – is ready to lean into the garishly lensed spectacle of the first Aquaman... and the horror of the masterful sequence set in the Trench.

"Well, the first movie took a lot of people by surprise, right? And that’s partially because they were not familiar with the comic book, which deals in this very lurid, strange world," he says. "People were taken aback that I didn’t throw all that stuff away and make a dark, heavy film. But I didn’t feel that would have been right for it. So with the second film, I feel it will be easier for people to accept where we go because I’ve already laid the foundation."

Speaking to Total Film to promote his upcoming horror Malignant, Wan also confirmed that he's some way into principal photography on Aquaman 2.

Malignant is in cinemas September 10, while Aquaman 2 has a release date of December 16, 2022. For more on both movies, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves on Friday 20 August. Check out the new cover below, as well as the cover of the special supplement that comes with the issue. 

Total Film's Dune issue and special supplement

(Image credit: Total Film/Warner Bros)

And if you're a fan of Total Film, why not subscribe so that you never miss an issue? You can grab both a physical and digital subscription – and subscribers get exclusive covers and big discounts. Click through the link for more info.

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.