When The Strain hit FX this past summer, audiences had no clue what to expect from the TV nightmare co-authored by Guillermo del Toro. Of course, if you were a huge del Toro fan before the show started, you've probably been able to tell that a lot of his previous work influences the novel-based series. We spoke with the visionary director ahead of this week's Blu-ray release of The Strain, and he shared which of his past works has an extremely heavy influence on how The Strain turned out: the ass kicking 2001 epic, Blade II.
Del Toro shared that the design of the Strigoi and the design for the Reapers from Blade II shared a common origin. Here's where he says it all began.
"The design of the vampires from Blade II came from the same set of notes I've been keeping since I was a kid.... the same notes that went there were the same notes that I used on The Strain, so a lot of the biology is in common. The Mimic epidemic came from the same place, because I'm very curious about biology and I'm very curious about epidemics, and how fast they could undermine society. So that was in the beginning pitch of Mimic”
If you compare the two sects of vampires, you'll see that the stinger concept is the core to Del Toro's spin on vampires; the only big difference is that The Strain's Strigoi can unhinge their jaws, while Blade II's Reapers actually have a separating neckline and various appendages. You can see a Strigoi from The Strain in the image at the top of the page, while the photo below depicts a Blade II Reaper.
As much as Blade II has influenced Guillermo Del Toro's work on the series, the 1997 sleeper hit, Mimic is also important to the genesis of The Strain. While Mimic barely resembles the original Del Toro pitch, The Strain's improvements on both Mimic's story, as well as Blade II's monster design seem to denote that Guillermo Del Toro sort-of used The Strain as a second draft of concepts he's really in love with. If you mix together Mimic's epidemic-heavy storyline with Blade II's vampiric Illuminati trying to undermine all human authority, you have a blueprint for the war that's being waged on the streets of New York in the world of Ephraim Goodweather and his companions.
When you look into the thematic elements of Blade II and The Strain, you'll also see the concept of the ruling class of vampires using human familiars to arrange the world at large to suit their feeding needs. While Blade II featured more of a vampire aristocracy controlling the higher-ups in the human world (with a lot of low level enforcers), The Strain has one singular rogue vampire that just so happens to be friends with the richest man in the world. It's the same plan but different execution, and ultimately different endgames are in play.
Considering that Guillermo Del Toro is still going to be very involved with second unit and cleanup work on Season 2 of The Strain, we'll probably see more references to Del Toro's work when The Strain new episodes begin airing sometime in 2015. In the meantime, The Strain: The Complete First Season is available on Blu-ray and DVD today.