Vampires That Don’t Suck: Why The Strain Is Doing It Right

Who remembers when vampires were cool? Be careful how you answer! There are those out there who will go, “Remember? They still are cool!” Yes and no. I grew up on good—or at least better—vampire shows and movies than what has been coming out for the last several years. I grew up with Blade, Angel, Underworld (Awakening sucked), and, of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Today we have Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, and True Blood. Don’t get me wrong; True Blood was good, but it probably stayed on about three seasons longer than it should have.

So, what am I trying to say? I’m saying that there is one show out there that is portraying vampires as they should be, rather than this watered-down wussification of what was once a great genre. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed this, and rest assured, I will not stay quiet about it. Are you tired of the Edwards out there and their glittery exteriors? Are you tired of the same story of vampire meets hot chick that no one has done better than Joss Whedon? If so, I suggest you start watching FX’s The Strain, because it is a better version of vampires than we have seen in years.

Like all good television shows and movies, it is nothing without its actors. What would Buffy the Vampire Slayer have been without James Marsters as Spike? Underworld without Kate Beckinsale as Selene? The same applies here, and I truly believe The Strain would not be as good if it weren’t for some of the key players:

Corey Stoll seems to have come out of nowhere three or four years ago, has done everything (Ant-Man, Black Mass, Girls), and rocks at it all! He is able to successfully play the alcoholic scientist who is still able to be productive and be a loving dad. I mention that because, when you write it down, it sounds like a character you should kind of hate, but I don’t think anyone does. Stoll was the right pick to lead this cast.

Kevin Durand is the master of character actors! This guy has also been everywhere! Dark Angel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Vikings—who other than this master of disguise to play the enforcer of the show?

Though I believe Richard Sammel to be channeling his inner Colonel Hans Landa, I dare you to find a single actor on television that is portraying a character as haunting as this man.

Jonathan Hyde’s résumé is so good that I don’t need to list it. He is able to epitomize the evil rich guy. If it helps, picture Donald Trump if he made a deal with the devil to live longer . . . interesting, right?

There are more I could list, but frankly, it isn’t necessary. The acting is great, and in a vampire show these days, that says a lot.

The Strain shows how it's virus "reproduces"

The Strain shows how it’s virus “reproduces.” FX

For those who don’t know, The Strain is actually based on a book trilogy coauthored by none other than Guillermo del Toro. For those who may not know that name, let me ask you something: have you seen and/or loved Blade II (the best one!), Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden ArmyPan’s Labyrinth, or Pacific Rim? The director of those films is the creator of The Strain. Not only has he mastered the sci-fi/fantasy genre already, but I cannot stress it enough, readers of Twin Cities Geek: he’s . . . one of us. This guy did three comic-book movies before Marvel became the grand-slam movie-making machine it is today. Plus, he made a movie on robots versus monsters, and it didn’t suck! How many directors can do that?

I saved monsters for last because I feared that it may be the hardest to understand. If you look up stuff on Joss Whedon and his thoughts on the works of Anne Rice, he isn’t a fan of the touchy-feely vamps and their love stories. Knowing that, I traced what led to such blasphemous vampire creations such as Twilight and The Vampire Diaries in which it is nothing but humans loving vampires, and they’re all portrayed by beautiful people. The problem is that 1) vampires do not love, and 2) even if they did love, they are monsters, not models. Whedon’s characters are a whole different story: though they are “pretty,” it is a distraction. The vampire’s true face is shown whilst about to feed. The vampire’s beauty in the Buffy-verse is used as a tool to manipulate or seduce its victims . . . but I digress.

Today’s vampires are nothing short of Abercrombie models who need blood to survive. Where The Strain stands out is that there is no “He drinks blood, but I love him” in this show. These vampires are ugly, scary, and mindless killing machines that only live to drink blood. Even the few capable of intelligent thought are horrifying, and that’s what vampires should be. We need to remember that vampires are scary, which is what makes this show so awesome.

Help bring vampires back to the monster medium by checking out The Strain and witness what dreck we’ve had to suffer through the last few years. The show has been renewed for a fourth and final season; catch up while it’s still hot!



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