Its happened, I am in love. I know, some folks say its hard to find, and that is a fact I do agree with completely. I know I have looked a long time, into the furrows of the life I have lived - waiting, hoping for a sign that my search for the perfect mix of writing and directing and producing that could finally summon forth something almost as perfect as I had envisioned within my own imagination. Now that its here though, will I be full and satisfied, or will I simply have a hunger for more grow within me? This I wont know just yet, but as for right now lets put it this way: My curiosity has been infected by a parasite of thought that there could one day be a movie or TV show that brought the legend of vampires into the modern age without making them sparkle or grow enlarged foreheads and egos, and it seems the only cure that has finally presented itself is also infectious.
Well folks, if I could have chosen to walk away and just go on living the hope filled dream I would, but the nerdification inside my mind would not let me run away. I had to know, I had to see it... and folks, it looks like your old pal BJ Hall has been infected by the thoughts of a writer named Chuck and the visions of the great Guillermo del Toro in their new series on FX aptly called The Strain. Much like the old man in the story... I feel the day I have been waiting for has finally come and I cant wait to see heads fly as television delves deep into the horror genre with a big bloody show pushing the boundaries of the FCC.
Okay, so at this point I would like to note that I have had a tiny obsession with vampires my whole life. So much so that when I was around 10 I gained access to what my school liked to called the "Reserved Books". These were books that were only meant to be checked out with written authorization from a teacher or parents. They would have us believe, at least i did at the time, that these books were some how special - but in reality it was the opposite. Now as i think back on it I am pretty sure they were just extra books that didn't have Jesus in them enough times to be worthy of the regular shelves. I cant recall all the books, because I never really cared. I wasn't much of a reader at that age. I liked movies (a lot), but in one AR (Accelerated reading, which to me just equaled less time stuck at a desk) trip to the library all it took was a glance. There I saw one of the greatest books that would blow my young mind to such lengths that I still feel the reverberations of to this very day. That book? The Vampire Encyclopedia....
When you are 10 and recently find out that Santa was a lie, and religion isnt far off from that same story, you sort of start to ask yourself "What else are they hiding from me?" At least I did, and being a fan of horror but attracted by vampires I never really thought about it and when I started reading a book with the word Encyclopedia on it (just in case you were wondering, those of you who dont know, Encyclopedia was what we used to call Google. Powered by bordem, and policed by the elderly) and all I could think was - "Im gonna kill some fucking vampires when I grow up, you dont need math for that shit! Ha'Zahhhhhh!" So while kids dreamed of being astronauts or football players I was secretly a kid who envisioned being the next Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins, not fucking Hugh 'Look at this Giant fucking Hat' Jackman! We do not blaspheme here!! I would take Oliver "I Have Been a Skinny Old Man All My Life" Reid before I went with that terrible excuse for a movie...)
That being said, after years of a love for the blood sucking legends I was never able to find any sort of movie or TV show that drew my attention and held it. Once you make it past the classics involving Christopher Lee the next hop would be to the 87 hit "The Lost Boys", but even then the coolest scene is at the end where the "Ganpa" character kills the head vampire by driving like an old man with dementia, hops out like its a normal fucking day at the park, pops a beer and says "One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires." Which to me is fucking insane! How do you make a vampire movie with vampires fighting while sporting serious mullets and have the coolest scene in the movie be this guy?
As far as the vampires went though, they were pretty close to the actual legend. But still, the entire drawing point to being one of them was shitty. Who wants to be in a emo biker gang that didnt even have the style to choose real motorcycles to ride (even though they could totally fucking fly btw) It just seemed like a let down.
Then you do forward in time and we have the very dreary attempt with Ann Rice's adaptation of her book "Interview with a Vampire" Which was MY SHIT back in the day. I am not joking, at that point in my life when I first saw the movie I was blown away. I got to see vampires with "Dark Gifts" unique to each of them. Experienced the metamorphosis of human to vampire, and even got to see how history and time unfold before a being that is eternal. How I felt for Pitts character, who didnt want to feed on humans and retained his humanity. But funnily enough, now that I am older I feel like I side more with Lestat' than I do the winey Brad Pitt. Plus, now when I do go back and watch it I can hardley get over the emo'ness presented to me... nor will my eyes ever forget this horrible scene
Then you go a little further to where (in my opinion) the idea of a vampire movie peaked - From Dusk Till Dawn by Robert Rodriguez. This movie stood out to me because not only did it invoke every rule of vampires I had ever known, it also was desguised as another movie all together which was perfect. It involved religion in the right way... not that pussyfied Salem's Lot type of way where you spend your whole life in the sevice to a higher power and them piss yourself once you see the evil - but instead you get a, and I quote - "a mean motherfuckin' servant of God" and with Harvey Kitel, I believed it. He bacme Van Helsing because he needed to be - because the character itself has to be in the story otherwise you are just making a story about a bunch of sulking immortals. The vampires weren't really that scary though (but the titties were nice, I will not lie) even in full make-up they just seemed weird. I mean who wants to spend and eternity as something that can go from super hot to this.....
So since Hollywood could never present the vampires to me in the right way I started to focus on my favorite character anyhow, Van Helsing. It was then I saw Bram Stokers Dracula, and Anthony Hopkins is the only one (besides Mel Brooks of course) that has ever hit the closest mark to what I want ot see as a vampire slayer. He's a great character in the book Dracula as well, but when he has been shown on the screen, Anthony was perfect.... up until I finally saw Professor Abraham Setrakian. The character is an obvious homage to the classic character of a very old and crotchety vampire hunter with a mission... and let me tell ya, I fucking love it! The best part about it though is the way the show sets up the main character to be Setrakian's vampire hunting apprentice... its just magic!
The way the show starts out is clever to say the least. Its as if they read Dracula and decided the best way to do it would be to do it in the exact same way. So just as in the book there is a ship with dead crew that floats into the harbor and no one knows what happened - a plane lands at an airport with no sign from any of the passengers on board. It was a brilliant start! I mean, you combine that with the fact that they pulled a giant coffin filled with dirt and you have yourself one of the greatest set ups to a show concerning the vampire legend. But the fact they turned it biological was a great twist. The worms taking over a vessel, mutating the biology, and then having them slowly mature into full fledged blood suckers - well thats perfect. I mean, it has been tried before - but never in such a way to be running extremely parallel to the original legend.
Even when they would try it they would get it wrong, but with The Strain - it was like Edison making the 100th lightbulb. It works perfectly! Yes, I would like the prospect of being a vampire to be a little more glamorous to be honest, but fuck it. You know why? Well because they still have all the classic weaknesses, besides religion. Which is wonderful, because they're the only ones (besides the mirror) that makes since. That and the running water thing which is weird but its from the book and maintained as a mystery in the show, which is even better.
All in all I really can't wait to see more of this show, and because I didn't get to read the comics (which I am sure are better, but probably not by much) it will be all fresh and new for me. Completely fresh meat for the mind, and I can't wait till I can taste a little more, just to see where it goes. Thank you Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan - also a big thanks to FX! You have given me hope for my favorite monster, and I hope ya keep the hits coming!
What do you think of The Strain?
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