These Vampires Don’t Sparkle: The Strain

(This article will contain spoilers, don’t say I didn’t warn ya!)

Now, some of you should know that I have been obsessed with Guillermo del Toro since I was a wee child when Hellboy (2004) came out. Picture a then five-year-old me plopped down in front of the tv with Syfy movies playing while my dad tried to work on our family’s clunky computer. Then Hellboy comes on. The big monster who’s not a monster but a good guy? Rad!

I was nine when I learned who Guillermo del Toro was. By then I was becoming a fully-fledged movie junkie. I watched Mimic (1997) and started to fall in love with monsters. Over the years I began to follow his career very closely. I dragged my family to see Hellboy II in 2010 (I had won a free ticket from a cereal box). Pan’s Labyrinth enthralled me and Pacific Rim is the reason I’m obsessed with giant robots along with Kaijuu.

He’s great

I was in high school when I found out that he had co-authored a novel with Chuck Hogan called The Strain.

Big shoutout to my school’s librarian for being a real one and recommending it. It sucks to ask for decent horror novels as a teen and get hit with the “we don’t think that’s appropriate for your age.”. I ended up getting my hands on it and other novels from the likes of Stephen King anyways. (that’s why banned books are a joke!)

The Strain novels are a trilogy series that contain The Strain, The Fall, and The Night Eternal. The FX network did adapt it into a TV series. We will be discussing all of it but the comics (which I do recommend). All three have the same plot line but with some differences in adaptation.

For those who don’t know, our story starts with a Boeing 777 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the CDC, and something weird that goes on when all but a few passengers are found alive. It is a full-on vampire story.

I’ll be honest most of the time I don’t find vampires to be interesting. I often find them overused, stagnant, or made in a way that teens would enjoy (looking at you Twilight and Vampire Diaries). del Toro and Hogan do what I can only say is a phenomenal take on vampires. They pull on the folklore of Eastern Europe and give us the Strigoi. On a twist, they give it scientific reasoning mixed tastefully with the occult. One keeps the other in check, for the most part. Vampirism spreads through parasitic worms.

However, the origins of these worms are angelic. In the series, there are seven ancient Strigoi. Each being a part of a fallen archangel that is cut into seven pieces after heaven found out it enjoyed human blood and tried to do the same to other angels. Three lived in the new world while four stayed in the old world. All lived in harmony until the fire nation, I mean, the master attacked.

The Master is the youngest of the ancients to be formed. Himself coming from the throat of the fallen angel, thus his insatiable bloodlust and hunger for power. The other Ancients did not have the same need or want for world domination as the master, which is a somewhat interesting detail in vampire media.

I’m not fond of the master’s special effects makeup. It felt goofy to me.

I love that it shows the transformation of becoming a strigoi. Hair loss, skin change, loss of genitals, and so on. It does hit that feeling of being a parasitic infection but reminds me more of syphilis. The parasite? Worms!

I can’t say I have the same enjoyment when it comes to the human characters in this series. A large handful was bland and static. Some I hoped would’ve gotten the boot (looking at you, Zack). On the other hand, some were just downright fascinating and entertaining along with being underutilized.

Our main character, Dr. Ephraim “Eph ” Goodweather, recovering alcoholic and workaholic, is an absolute ass in every telling of this story. The show dials this up. He’s supposed to be our hero but honestly, he holds up like a wet paper towel.

Dr. Nora Martinez is a strong character but way too devoted to Eph for my liking.

Abraham Setrakian is arguably my favorite character in this series. Setrakian is a holocaust survivor turned strigoi hunter. His encounters with the master begin in WW2 set in a Concentration Camp.

Quinlan, a hybrid born from a mother who was pregnant when the master turned her. This is a character who I think got the worst end of the stick in terms of development and death.

I did miss the folktale opening that the book and comics had. Not having it took away from the looming dangers ahead. The show seems to just dump all the problems out at once, compared to the slow burn of the novel. The pacing is an issue I have with the show. It’s either extremely fast or dragging. Many of the issues of the novels are exaggerated in the show.

The novel is an 8/10 for me. I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook for the first book. It’s narrated by Ron Perlman and is just very satisfying to hear!

The show is an 8/10 for the first season but slowly dwindles to a 6/10.

The comics are just the same as the novel, an 8/10. The comic The Strain: Mister Quinlan–Vampire Hunter is a great backstory to another character in the series. Dude just can’t get a happy ending.

I hope you found this post enjoyable. Have any questions or opinions? If so share them in the comments.

Happy Thursday everyone!


One thought on “These Vampires Don’t Sparkle: The Strain

  1. Vampires are one of those things like zombies where your opinions will vary, we are mostly tired of, but when they get it right they really get it right.
    The more vampires lean into the beast style the better for me. I really enjoyed in the later Underworld movies and Gary Oldman’s dracula, the giant bat type vampires for the same reasons I prefer the really more wolf-like bipedal werewolves.
    The strain show had me obsessed for the first season, but yeah personally, dropped off a lot after that, because the characters were doing dumb stuff that annoyed me. I may give it another go eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

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