That Guillermo Del Toro is a busy guy.
In between nurturing the Mexican Film
New Wave with co-Amigos Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with their production company
Cha Cha Cha, working on
a two part adaptation of Tolkein's "The Hobbit," and much, much more, the auteur
behind "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy"
is writing a trilogy of novels (co-authored by Chuck Hogan,
who also wrote "Prince of Thieves," now being adapted into "The Town" by Ben
Affleck, shooting in Boston as we speak and looking for local actors)
about a plague of vampirism titled "The Strain."
Having read the first volume, due out June 2, all I can say is -- Guillermo,
don't strain yourself. This one looks like it would have been served better by
going directly to film, thus sparing us such deathless prose as:
"The foul smell of fresh, hot vampire piss
filled the arched space, the burnt-ammonia scent holding dark associations for
Almost Proustian, that. Then there's this
observation when a woman turns into a vampire and pursues her son and ex-husband (omissions to avoid spoilers):
"[he] knew that [she] would never give up.
She would go on haunting her son forever unless someone put a stop to it.
"Their custody battle for [their son] was not
That sure puts in perspective a demonic
viral infection that has wiped out Manhattan and threatens the world.
So here's the premise. A plane lands at Kennedy Airport, everyone on board mysteriously
dead. But then the dead start to rise and kill other people who also rise and
drink the blood of others with their six-foot long razor sharp tongues. The
only people who have a chance to stop
the zombie/vampirification of the world is a doctor named Eph and an old
immigrant vampire hunter from Romania named Van
Helsing, er, Setrakian.
I'm not the only one who's noted that
the book is derivative of just about every other zombie and vampire and miscellaneous horror book and novel ever
made, starting with Bram Stoker's original "Dracula" and continuing on through
"Nosferatu," "I Am Legend," "Night of the Living Dead," "28 Days Later," Philip
K. Dick (there's a character named "Eldritch Palmer," so I guess that would
qualify as an allusion), "The Night Stalker" (okay, it's acknowledged, so
another allusion), "They Came From Within," "Outbreak," "THe Stand," etc, etc. You might even throw in a
resemblance to "Airplane!" for the first couple of chapters, not to mention Del Toro's own "Blade 2" and "Mimic."
given the rich tradition of vampires (and zombies) in literature and film, is
inevitable, I suppose. I do look forward to Del Toro's own rendering of this on
the screen, however, since he is a genius at visual story telling. AS for this
prosaic version, well, maybe this
dialogue from the book best describes it:
" Nora said, ‘I thought vampires drank virgin
blood. They hypnotize...they turn into bats...'
"Setrakian said, ‘They're much romanticized.
But the truth is more...how should I say?'
"‘Perverse,' said Eph.
"‘Disgusting,' said Nora.
"‘No,' said Setrakian. ‘Banal. Did you find
My advice: lay off the ammonia.
By the way, Del Toro's new trilogy should
help convince those who doubted my prediction about
vampires taking over from zombies in the undead competition to rule pop culture
(okay, his is a vampire/zombie hybrid).There are more to come including another vampire trilogy, Justin Cronin's "The Passage," already signed for a film deal.