Horror master Guillermo del Toro fills up FX's tank with his own personal brand of nightmare fuel: ''The Strain''

By Tim Stack
Updated June 06, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

Let’s get one thing straight: The Strain may be based on a popular vampire book series, but FX’s new show is nothing like Twilight or The Vampire Diaries. ”We’ve had plenty of these wonderful, brooding, sparkling, romantic vampires,” says executive producer Carlton Cuse (Lost). ”This is vastly different from that. These are scary, dangerous creatures.” Adapted from the novel trilogy authored by del Toro (who directed the pilot and is an executive producer) and Chuck Hogan, The Strain finds New York plagued by an outbreak of vampirism, spread by an ancient and gigantic bloodsucker named the Master, as well as hundreds of slimy parasitic worms. The only hope for humankind’s survival is a team of scientists led by epidemiologist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (House of Cards‘ Corey Stoll). With monster maestro del Toro at the helm, The Strain is often not for the squeamish — including lead actor Stoll. ”I’m a wimp,” he admits. ”When the Master crushes the guy’s skull [in the pilot], I was hiding behind my hands.”

FX and the producers have conceived The Strain as a limited series — with a definitive end point that will occur, according to the coy producer, somewhere between three and five seasons — making the project even more exciting for Cuse. ”As a storyteller, anytime you get the green light to tell a story from A to Z, that is juicily appealing,” Cuse says. ”As we’ve all witnessed with shows like Breaking Bad, X, Y, and Z are great parts of the story. We have a game plan and we have a road map.” Which, we’re happy to report, doesn’t include any amorous vampire-human make-outs.