Thursday, July 24, 2014

INTERVIEW: Guillermo del Toro talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his new FX Network series The Strain

If you are a genre fan, or even a fan of movies like HELLBOY (2004), the majority of people out there know the name Guillermo del Toro. I have been a massive fan of del Toro ever since I saw a vampire film many years ago that he wrote and directed called CRONOS (1993).    As I grew as a person and later as a artist myself, I followed everything that Guillermo del Toro put out, and I also paid attention to his words too.  Like most, I have been sucked into the vivid worlds that he has created for both the mainstream and the arthouse. I adored PAN'S LABYRINTH (2006), I was in awe of the giant robots in PACIFIC RIM (2013), and was just recently sucked into the literary and comic worlds of del Toro's  The Strain (2014-)

Guillermo del Toro has made a jump onto the small screen with the latest FX Network show, The Strain.  If you are not aware of this franchise of books and comics that involves a modern twist on the supreme vampire takeover, get ready for the television series because it is nothing like you've ever seen before.

Guillermo, as well as his writing partner Chuck Hogan, have brought their story to life with nothing but love for the genre.  The Strain offers us incredible cinematography, and vampires that are once again given love by a man who sees them as nothing but vicious, ruthless killing machines, and it's about time something like this came to television. 

In this EXCLUSIVE interview with del Toro , TV STORE ONLINE discovers the real inspiration behind The Strain... 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Guillermo, thank you being a part of this with me. And let me tell you without sounding like 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.   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?

DEL TORO:  Well, the thing I am looking most forward to is the Mexican wrestler that you probably know from the books. (Laughing) I am a Mexican geek, so I love the fact of watching a Mexican kick the ass of vampires.(Laughing) 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 fucking kicks ass!

TV STORE ONLINE: (Laughing) 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?

DEL TORO:  They have been great! In fact, the only censorship we had was from Chuck Hogan and myself. (Laughing) There was a scene involving Ephraim's wife which was described in the book series we just thought was too much. (Laughing) So that was the only problem we thought there was while FX wanted everything in the show.

*POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING* 

TV STORE ONLINE: So they didn't have any issue with the scene where one of the characters d**k falls off and splashes into the toilet? (Laughing)

DEL  TORO: Well, we wanted to sow the dick as well as the balls drying up and falling off. (Laughing) 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 fucking worked. (Laughing) So we ended up with the "Barbie Doll" look you see in the episode.

TV STORE ONLINE: 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? (Laughing)

DEL TORO: (Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE: 
Upon reading The Strain book series and finally seeing their form in comics...Did you ever see any physical connection between the vampires in The Strain and BLADE 2 (2002)?

DEL TORO: I have made vampires for CRONOS, 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.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Holy sh*t! That's intense!

DEL TORO: (Laughing) 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. (Laughing)   

Blade 2 (2002)
The Vampire Tapestry book also has great, interesting vampires. When Bram [Stoker] 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.

TV STORE ONLINE:
I love every rendition of your vampire, but most of all I have to thank you for getting away from the fucking loving, sparkly set. (Laughing)

DEL TORO: (Laughing) Don't get me started on that.

TV STORE ONLINE: 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?

del Toro at his "Bleak House" in Los Angeles
DEL TORO: 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**ker, 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, was that his creature can come back to life in any modern age.   I guess in a way, that is true with The Strain, because as time goes on, it will be considered a classic as well. (Laughing) 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 itself, 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 '70s like Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-75) or Trilogy Of Terror (1975).  The fun of the series is what you go with, you know? Or, at least I hope it does. (Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE:  Was there any doubt in your mind when it came to putting your vision on the small screen versus 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?

DEL TORO: I don't know if you know, but I first pitched the show in 2006. There were no horror series on the horizon at that time, 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 cast for PACIFIC RIM.

TV STORE ONLINE: You're a Sons Of Anarchy fan? That is why you cast Charlie? That is just too awesome for words, man!

DEL TORO: I'm a huge fan of that! But with The Strain, we are starting by building the characters, and then I wanted to show in the first human kill 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 head shows that. (Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE: I have to know about what's going on with IN THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. I am a massive fan of yours, as well as the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and to just think about the possibility of you doing something that material really has me excited.  Is there any good news on the horizon regarding that project?

DEL TORO: No, nothing to say on that. But stay tuned. I am working very hard on making the movie happen.

TV STORE ONLINE:   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?

DEL TORO: 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? (Laughing) Not everyone was 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, someone who had succeeded at it, and someone who has failed as well. That's what I did with the book. I showed you my successes, and where I f**ked up too. (Laughing)

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**king fail, and also succeed.  I wish everyone luck if they attempt to get into the world of movies.

TV STORE ONLINE: Guillermo, this has truly been nothing but an honor, and you're such a cool guy to just talk about everything with. Thank you so much for doing this.

DEL TORO: Thank you for watching the show and the love of my work. I wish we could talk more, and I look forward to talking to you again in the future.

You can catch The Strain Sundays at 10 PM EST / 7PM PST on FX

This interview was conducted by Rob DiLauro. Rob is a Georgia based filmmaker, author, screenwriter, and podcaster. His work can be seen on such websites as Dread Central and Horror News. You can follow him on Facebook HERE: