The Strain Reveals Its Big Bad Master Vamp

By David Wharton | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

If you’ve seen the recent teasers for The Strain, you’ve already seen glimpses of this guy, but if you’d like to avoid cruising any further down Spoiler Ave., don’t scroll down past the picture of Dracula trying to seduce Buffy. (No, he’s not the Strain bad guy.)


Given that I’ll watch pretty much everything Guillermo del Toro puts his name on (Mimic wasn’t that bad), I’m definitely excited to see his new TV series The Strain premiere on FX this summer. Based on a book trilogy by del Toro and Chuck Hogan, FX will air the 13-episode first season on July 13. Now Entertainment Weekly has an exclusive reveal of “The Master,” the series’ Big Bad and the source of the vampire disease that is at the core of The Strain. And this being del Toro we’re talking about, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this vampire is definitely not the standard-issue Bram Stoker variety.

The Master is one of the oldest vampires around. Which makes sense, what with that moniker. I’m guessing the waiting period for “Master” certification is two or three centuries at the minimum. It sounds like del Toro is bringing his fondness for practical effects to The Strain, as Entertainment Weekly says the Master requires both an actor and a dancer to bring him to life, plus the visual effects team. Here’s an early sketch of the Master, an unfortunate firefighter, and some seriously freaked out cats. (I’m guessing the plusses on the image were intended to be some sort of interactive element, but it isn’t working for me on EW’s site).

Image Credit: Keith Thompson/FX

In the world of The Strain, the vampire virus is carried by a form of worm, which can infect you either as a result of a vampire attack or by direct exposure to the worm itself. But if you think vampiric immortality doesn’t sound half bad, the Strain variety doesn’t involve never-fading looks and a series of nubile coeds hypnotized into your thrall. In Strain world, getting vamped up involves losing your hair, fingernails, nose, and ears, and then growing a six-foot retractable stinger tongue. Did I mention your genitalia atrophy? Because your genitalia totally atrophy.

Oh, and there’s this charming detail, which I quote verbatim from the book’s Wikipedia entry:

All bodily waste is excreted from a single rectal orifice in the form of a pungent ammonia-based spray; a vampire will excrete for the entire duration of a feeding, purging old food as it consumes new blood.

Barnabas Collins, eat your heart out.

The Strain’s premiere on FX will bring the story full circle, as del Toro originally intended it to be a TV series, but couldn’t find a buyer. Now it will have gone from proposed screen to page to screen again. The cast includes Corey Stoll (The Bourne Legacy), John Hurt, Kevin Durand (Robin Hood), Mia Maestro (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), Doug Jones (Hellboy, Falling Skies), and Robert Maillet as the primary bad guy (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters). Lost’s Carlton Cuse is also on board as an executive producer. If all goes well, it’s planned to run between three and five seasons on FX. You can check out the official teaser and synopsis below.

They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting. Now their time has come. In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country. In two months — the world.

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing…

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city — a city that includes his wife and son — before it is too late.