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In 1975 Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot hit bookstores and created a new dose of Bram Stoker-ish horror, now Guillermo del Toro, along with Chuck Hogan, have updated vampire lore with The Strain which has been adapted and will premiere on FX; a dash of horror on the small screen. Just as King’s story looked at a vampire invasion of a small Maine town, Guillermo’s and Hogan’s story takes huge strokes across a similar canvas and shows New York being taken over as the first step to a vampiric “final solution” which will eradicate the human race.
The Strain is the first in a trilogy, with the second book being The Fall and the last being The Night Eternal. Anyone who has picked up any of the literary versions of this upcoming series will know that this vampire tale is very different from most that are available for mass consumption at the moment.
The vampires in this verse do not sparkle, period. They are also not the Victorian aristocracy which react very poorly to holy water, garlic and crucifixes. In fact these are not “classic” vampires at all, they are hosts to a parasitic worm which takes over the body’s DNA and morphs it into a new bloodthirsty creature.
The two main protagonists, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and Abraham Setrakian, are polar opposites. The doctor an instrument for the CDC and the pawn shop proprietor could best be described as “old school.” Just as this new threat to mankind is not really new at all, it is also not the familiar vampire story as portrayed in books and films. This new version is scary, relentless and, in a way, much more science fiction than straight forward horror.
The Strain premieres on FX July 13 and this small screen horror series first episode will be directed by Guillermo del Toro. The director is no stranger to horror. He has crossed into that dark territory several times. Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone and Mimic to name but three horror films that he has helmed. As a bit of explanation, Hellboy, which del Toro also directed, is not included as it was not horror as such, it was more a mainstream pop culture movie for the masses.
Going back to The Strain, the literary version, the story begins with a Boeing 777 gliding to a stop on the tarmac at JFK and not responding to any attempts at communication. Dr. Goodweather and his Canary Team from the Center for Disease Control are called in to investigate what appears to be a plane full of dead people.
Initial assumptions are that the passengers died from a gas leak or some sort of virus. As the investigation turns up four “survivors” Goodweather and his colleague Nora find out that the reality is worse than anything they could have imagined and that it will spread across New York City in a matter of days.
Guillermo del Toro’s and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain will debut on FX July 13 and this horror/science fiction tale on the small screen should terrify very effectively. If the adaptation only captures a small part of the imagery from the three books, some viewers may feel the need to sleep with the lights on after watching this show. It remains to be seen, however, as to whether this scary parasitic series will get under the audience’s skin.
By Michael Smith