FX has seen much success with acclaimed, but risqué series offerings such as, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, and American Horror Story. As a result, they have taken on a new project that promises equal success. Scheduled to premiere in July 2014, FX will debut a new vampire series titled The Strain, but do not be fooled; these vampires do not sparkle. The only thing sparkly about these vampires is the glistening parasitic worms that ooze from every orifice of their bodies.
The Strain is based off a trilogy book series written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Del Toro, the mind and writer behind cinematic works such as, Hellboy, The Hobbit, and Pan’s Labyrinth, originally envisioned The Strain as a cable television series, but with no takers, found his choices limited. Despite rejection, del Toro chose to team up with Chuck Hogan and instead turn his horrific brainchild into what resulted in a wildly successful three-book series. Finally, the project has come full circle for del Toro, as FX has ordered 13 episodes of the series beginning in July.
The idea behind The Strain is inspired by del Toro’s preference for Polish vampire folklore, wherein vampires land on the horrific end of the spectrum rather than on the over-romanticized version that has become so ingrained in popular culture as of late. For example, according to Polish folkloric tradition, the sexy vampire fangs we know today are replaced by revolting stingers – also an element in del Toro’s vampires. Additionally, del Toro’s passion for over-the-top creature production in film will be a major factor in the crafting of the vampires depicted on-screen in The Strain series.
Although most modern filmmakers scoff at the idea of outlandish monsters, abandoning them in favor of a more sophisticated sense of suspense, del Toro prefers to aim for the jugular with regard to the shock factor. As a result, while working on both Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth, when financiers pulled back the reins on the creature budget, del Toro reached into his own pocket to cover the costs of his vision; ultimately shelling out half of his Hellboy wages and his entire earnings for Pan’s Labyrinth.
Currently, the most lucrative return with regard to vampires has been as a result of the romanticized or lustful versions as depicted in Twilight, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries. However, FX, who will debut the new series in July, seem unconcerned with the fact that the vampires of The Strain will not sparkle. This is likely due to the focus of their target market. FX hopes to attract the likes of viewers of AMC’s acclaimed series, The Walking Dead, and of their own, American Horror Story, rather than the lovelorn horde of teenage girls currently feeding vampire popularity. Critics agree that viewers might be hungry for something new in the horror genre via television, especially in the realm of a re-imagined and horrific vampire tale such as The Strain promises.
In addition to shedding the brooding heartthrob image, del Toro’s vampires will go a step further. The creatures actually shed their atrophied genitals in one phase of their parasite-induced mutation, making gender identification (and romance) of the monsters nearly impossible after full transformation. Further, targeting Walking Dead viewers may not be far off the mark, as readers of the series can attest, The Strain simultaneously depicts both dystopia and apocalypse as major themes. For those anxiously awaiting the new FX Series, The Strain will debut in July; just do not expect these Vampires to sparkle.
By Chavala Trigg