Guillermo del Toro is helping to prepare Marvel's The Incredible Hulk television series and has begun developing The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death into a show for HBO. However, del Toro is apparently not satisfied with "just" two small screen projects to juggle, and is working out the fine print for a deal where he and Chuck Hogan will adapt their trilogy of vampire novels - named after the first book, The Strain - into a series for FX.
FX has set an order for the Strain pilot, beating out the competition from such channels as Cinemax and Starz. The former is apparently interested in cornering the market on provocative horror entertainment, between del Toro and Hogan's twist on the classic monster lore, as well as the ongoing series American Horror Story.
Variety reports that Carlton Cuse (Lost) is onboard as showrunner for The Strain, which will kick off with a first episode that del Toro is planning to direct (based on a script he's co-writing with Hogan). Cuse, Hogan, del Toro and his manager Gary Ungar are all serving as executive producers on the pilot, which is expected to be fast-tracked for development into a full-blown series. Here is a description of the first installment in del Toro and Hogan's Strain book trilogy:
A plane lands at JFK and mysteriously 'goes dark', stopping in the middle of the runway for no apparent reason, all lights off, all doors sealed... Ephraim Goodweather and his team from the Center for Disease Control must work quickly to establish the cause of this strange occurrence before panic spreads. The first thing they discover is that four of the victims are actually still alive. But that's the only good news. And when all two hundred corpses disappear from various morgues around the city on the same night, things very rapidly get worse. Soon Eph and a small band of helpers will find themselves battling to protect not only their own loved ones, but the whole city, against an ancient threat to humanity.
Cuse promises that del Toro and Hogan's take on blood-sucking creatures of the night "will give you nightmares," as opposed to the desirable vamps featured on such television series as The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. Moreover, Cuse sees the Strain literature as lending itself naturally to a cinematic adaptation, saying "It has all the elements you look for in an epic tale. It feels like the chance to do something that really adds something new to the genre."
The Strain vamps are depicted as parasitic creatures that infect their hosts in a far more gruesome fashion than old-fashioned neck biting and blood sharing. Hogan and del Toro's brand of vampirism is as much a disease (hence the franchise title) rooted in pseudo-biology as anything supernatural or mystical. It's for reasons like that the FX television series could cross further into Fringe sci-fi territory than either of del Toro's previous cinematic vampire projects (Cronos and Blade II).
Shooting on The Strain pilot is tentatively scheduled to get underway in Toronto by Fall 2013. We will keep you posted on the project's development in the meantime.