Hello there, horror fans! It has been quite awhile since I have embarked on the journey of horror journalism, but my name is Robert DiLauro and I am one of the newest interviewers for the Horrornews writing team, the place that gave me my start in the horror business! I have done much in my four year career, two short films, a worldwide horror talk show, and so much I am thankful for, but I am so pumped to once again bring all of you fans the interviews that will sate your bloodthirst, and happy to be back home.
If you are a genre fan, or even a fan of movies like “Hellboy”, the majority know the name of the man I bring to you all today. I have been a massive fan of this director ever since I saw a film many years ago called “Kronos”, which was one of the greatest vampire incarnations I have ever laid eyes on. As I grew as a person and later in my years as an artist, I followed everything that Guillermo Del Toro had done, and I also paid attention to his words. Like most, I was sucked into the vivid worlds he had created for the mainstream as well as the arthouse. I adored “Pan’s Labyrinth”, watched in awe as giant robots in “Pacific Rim”, and was sucked into the literary as well as comic world of “The Strain”!
And that is why you are reading this today, Guillermo Del Toro’s first jump onto the small screen with the latest FX Networks show, “The Strain”. If you are not aware of this franchise of books, comics, and now television, the series involves a modern take on a supreme vampire takeover, and it is NOTHING that you expect!
Guillermo as well as his writing partner Chuck Hogan have brought their story to life with nothing but love to the genre, great story as well as cinematography, and vampires that are once again given love by a man who sees them as nothing but vicious, ruthless killing machines, and it is about time!
In this EXCLUSIVE interview with the man I would call a master storyteller in every way, I had the pleasure of not only seeing the first four episodes of this new hit show, but having a phone chat with one of my greatest heroes as well as inspirations.
Without further ado, fear fans, I give you “The Strain” creator, Guillermo Del Toro!
Rob:Guillermo, thank you being a part of this with me. And let me tell without sounding too much of a gushy fanboy what an honor it is to be speaking with you right now.
Let’s get right to it and talk about “The Strain”. I am a fan of the book series, but was always looking forward to seeing that vision come to life, and it finally happened with the new show. I watched the first four episodes and I absolutely enjoyed everything I had the pleasure of seeing, just a purely awesome story brought to true life!
My first question would be what is the most promising thing to you when it comes to portraying this epic story on the small screen?
Guillermo:Well, the thing I am looking most forward to is the Mexican wrestler that you probably know from the books. (Laughs) I am a Mexican geek, so I love the fact of watching a Mexican kick the ass of vampires.(Laughs again) But i’m most looking forward to giving watchers of the show a chance to watch a fast paced, fun Summer series that I think, or hope people will think f*cking kicks ass!
Rob:(Laughs)I think you achieved that goal with flying colors, sir! When it comes to FX, was there anything that was too intense in the literary world that you had to cut out, or have they been totally accommodating to the entire vision?
Guillermo:They have been great! In fact, the only censorship we had was from Chuck Hogan and myself. (Laughs) There was a scene involving Ephraim’s wife which was described in the book series we just thought was too much. (Laughs again) So that was the only problem we thought there was while FX wanted everything in the show.
*Possible Spoiler Warning*
Rob:So they didn’t have any issue with the scene where one of the characters dick falls off and splashes into the toilet? (Laughs)
Guillermo:Well, we wanted to sow the dick as well as the balls drying up and falling off. (Laughs) FX was actually okay with the idea, so we even created scars where the dick was. Nothing worked! We did about three or four different versions of that scar. We made patches, none of it f*cking worked. (Laughs again) So we ended up with the “Barbie Doll” look you see in the episode.
Rob:Yes, the effect did turn out to be very “Ken Doll-ish”. But at least the sound effect of the plop into the toilet was left in, right? (Laughs)
Guillermo:(Laughs hard) Upon reading “The Strain” series and finally seeing their form in comics and of the show, did you ever see any physical connection between the vampires in “The Strain” series and “Blade 2”?
Guillermo:I have made vampires for “Kronos”, “Blade”, and “The Strain”. But the dimensions for each vampire are very different to me. These vampires are from notes I have had since I was fifteen or sixteen years old.
The “Blade” vampires I had taken from Filipino lore where they had elongated appendages (sidenote:commonly known as a proboscis) which they used to ingest the unborn fetuses of pregnant women.
Rob:Holy shit! That’s intense!
Guillermo:(Laughs) Yeah. The “Blade” vampires are taken from the Strigoi, where vampires had two barbs in their mouth to attack their prey.
At my “man cave”, or my office (sidenote: called “Bleak House” located in Los Angeles) I have been reading about the vampire obsessively. I think I can compete with any vampire scholar on the subject. (Laughs again)
“The Vampire Tapestry” also has great, interesting vampires.
When Bram (Stoker-author of “Dracula) writes about the vampire, he decides it is a killing machine who has romantic notions. I have never been into the romantic vampire, I have always liked the vicious killing machine, and that is what I wanted with “The Strain”.
Rob:I love every rendition of your vampire, but most of all I have to thank you for getting away from the f*cking loving, sparkly set. (Laughs)
Guillermo:(Laughs) Don’t get me started on that.
Rob:That’s interesting that you touch on history. My next question was right on that same point. Would you consider “The Strain” to be an old world story told with a more modern technological edge? I definitely see shades of Van Helsing in the older character of Setrakian, would you agree with that comparison?
Guillermo:I have to thank Carlton Cuse (Executive Producer) for that. When Chuck and I wrote about him, he was more reserved. But in the show, he is sort of a hardcore motherf*cker, isn”t he?
When Bram Stoker published “Dracula”, he was using voice recorders, telegraphs, stuff like that in the story. What Stoker was trying to say is his creature can come back to life in any modern age.
And I guess in a way that is true with “The Strain”, because as time goes on, it will be considered a classic as well. (Laughs) It’s funny to think about, really.
When you realize that “Dracula” is a modern novel for its time, it does make you think about time, and what holds true today won’t be the same years from now when it comes to styles of horror and technology. But I am not trying to do that. The one thing I wanted to do with the show was give fans the feeling I felt when I watched shows in the seventies like “Kolchak The Night Stalker”, or “Trilogy Of Terror”.
The fun of the series is what you go with, you know? Or, at least I hope it does. (Laughs again)
Rob:Was there any doubt in your mind when it came to placing your vision on the small screen as opposed to making feature films? And would you say that you only wanted to attempt this because there seems to be a “horror renaissance” on television, so to speak?
Guillermo:I don’t know if you know, but I pitched the show in 2006. There were no horror series on the horizon, and I was very much hoping that this show would happen back then. FX has been a channel where I have always liked most of their shows, and that is why Charlie (Hunnam) was casted for “Pacific Rim”.
Rob:(With excitement) You’re a “Sons Of Anarchy” fan, and that is why you cast Charlie? That is just too awesome for words, man!
Guillermo:I’m a huge fan of that! But with “The Strain”, we start by building the characters, but then I wanted to show in the first human kill (sidenote: WISHMASTER’S Andrew Divoff in Episode One) how these vampires think of humans as food. And when they crush the head of the guy, it’s almost like a box of juice. What do you usually do when you drink a box of juice? You crush it, right?
So, that is what I wanted to really show. That humans are nothing but drinks to these vampires. They don’t give a shit about them, and I think crushing the guy’s f*cking head shows that. (Laughs)
Rob:I have to know about the word on “In The Mountains Of Madness”. I am a massive fan of yourself as well as the work of HP Lovecraft, and this is the one of the most anticipated things I hope happens sometime before we get overtaken by bloodsuckers, or the undead. (Laughs) Is there any good news on the horizon regarding the film?
Guillermo:No, nothing to say on that. But stay tuned. I am working very hard on making the movie happen.
Rob:That is so good to hear. And my last question involves your book, “Cabinet Of Curiosities”. I own it, love it, and swear by much of it when it comes to creation and advice regarding the film industry. You have so many great things to say, so I was wondering if you can leave the readers who want to get into this crazy, hard, worthwhile world of filmmaking or other forms of entertainment any advice?
Guillermo:The book was done as a very candid book. I talk about a lot in that book, and got into trouble with some of the things I said, you know? (Laughs) Everyone wasn’t happy, I mean I write about family in that book too.
When you are growing up and want to be a filmmaker, the best thing to have is someone who tells you the truth. You need to talk to someone who has made a film and will tell you when he succeeded, or when he f*cked up. That’s what I did with the book. I showed you my successes, and when I f*cked up too. (Laughs)
If someone gets something from that, it makes me very happy. But I think you just have to go for it, and be willing to make mistakes. Not everything is going to be good, and you need to be able to have that ability to f*cking fail, and also succeed.
I wish everyone luck if they attempt to get into the world of movies.
Rob: Guillermo, this has truly been nothing but an honor, and you’re such a cool guy to just talk everything with. Thank you so much for doing this. I will never forget it, and hopefully we will speak again.
Guillermo: Thank you for watching the show and the love of my work. I wish we could talk more, and I look forward to it.
There you have it, an interview with one of the greatest directors as well as visionaries of our time. There was so much more chatting with myself and Guillermo, but it was just back forth. He was like talking to a friend who loves horror as much as you, and the conversation just flowed until we went back into interview mode, and got serious.
After “The Strain” premiere, viewer numbers have proven it a hit! And this makes me very happy, Del Toro knows his vampires, and if you haven’t watched the show, I assure you that the story will infect your blood in the greatest possible way! Rejoice, true vampire lovers!
You can catch “The Strain” Sundays at 10pm est/7 pm pst on FX!
Until next time, I will leave you with a quote I have dusted off, as it rings just as true today.
“The only thing that will impale your dreams is your own negativity.”
Take care terror, and beware of the coffin!