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Del Toro seeks to return evil to vampire fiction

Posted by GoreMaster Special Effects on June 11, 2009

The Strain

CBC News

   Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro sets out to return universal evil to the vampire genre with a new book released this month called The Strain.

   Del Toro, who is best known for his Oscar-winning movie Pan’s Labyrinth, spent four years working on the novel, the first of a trilogy he is penning with crime writer Chuck Hogan, he said in interview with CBC Radio’s Q cultural affairs show.

   “The whole idea was to go back to one of the branches of vampire fiction that seems to be vacant, tragically vacant in the last few years, which is not a romantic, tragically misunderstood male lead like in a romance novel but as a creature of alternate history, biology and anatomy that is essentially a parasite or a predator hunting humans,” del Toro said.

   Del Toro has been fascinated with vampires since he was a kid and his movies, Blade and Cronos both feature vampires. The director thinks interest in vampires goes beyond the current fleeting dalliance with the Twilight series, in which the vampire is just a romantic bad boy.

  “There are few characters that belong to the cosmos of mankind,” he said, mentioning the dragon which is seen as evil or good in different cultures.”The same is true for the vampire — it’s very malleable — it’s an incredibly open metaphor for power, greed, sexual appetite, you name it,” he said. His own preferred form of the monster is a reanimated corpse with “no soul and an alien hunger to consume blood.”

   With The Strain, Del Toro wanted a modern version of the monster and incorporated some research he’d done into pandemics for the film Mimic.

“I wanted to create this medical thriller that slowly but surely emerges as a pandemic of a vampiric virus,” he said.

This form of vampirism causes its victims’ bodies to mutate into bug-like creatures, who wreak havoc in Manhattan as a team of disease specialists and others try to stop the disease. But while Del Toro is adept at creating mythical monsters through his screenplays, he recruited Hogan three years ago to help him craft the novel.

   “I found to be honest, that I was really in my element when creating creatures and creating outlandish headpieces, but I thought I was not blessed much with a knack for American reality, American dialogue, procedural stuff and I found all that more in the partnership with Chuck,” Del Toro said.

   The other two books in the series are due in 2010 and 2011.

In great demand as a director, del Toro is working on updates on Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a remake of Slaughterhouse Five and a two-part film adaptation of The Hobbit.

Del Toro admits he doesn’t have a strong taste for fantasy fiction, but says he loves The Hobbit. His own home library reflects those preferences.

“An entire room is dedicated to horror and only one bookshelf shelf is dedicated to sci-fi, half a bookshelf to fantasy, but those that are there I love passionately — absolutely adore them — and The Hobbit is one.”

He said he signed onto The Hobbit project, when he turned down a Harry Potter and the Narnia movies, because of his admiration for Peter Jackson’s work on the Lord of the Rings.

“I love the book exactly for what it is and … it’s all going to be a beautiful tale of a guy with an incredibly beautiful spirit, which all Hobbits have, who is confronted with a very vast much darker world than he knew. And he comes back to his point of origin completely changed and yet very sure of his own nature.”


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