Let’s get right into it, shall we?
S is for The Strain, the FX horror series created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan based on their trilogy of the same name.
The show premiered in July 2014. This past August it was renewed for a third season.
Vampires in The Strain are a nice break from the bulk of current vampire fare. They are straight up soulless evil.
The story begins when a plane “goes dark” shortly after landing at JFK. Airport authorities discover the passengers and crew dead, with no obvious signs of violence. Suspecting a possible disease, they contact the CDC.
In comes Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and Dr. Nora Martinez who discover four survivors: a computer programmer, an attorney, a rock star and one of the pilots. They are initially quarantined as the CDC tries to figure out what’s going on. However, the lawyer threatens legal action and they are released.
Meanwhile, in a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, former history professor and Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian knows something terrible has happened. Over the next 24 hours, the four “survivors” transform into vampires and many of the “dead” passengers disappear from the morgue and return home to their families, spreading the infection.
Dr. Goodweather is joined by Setrakian and a small band of fighters, who desperately try to stop the spread and save the city.
Next is T for Tana Bach, the Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
This is the 2013 book from best-selling author of contemporary fantasy for kids and teens Holly Black. She is also known for The Spiderwick Chronicles and Doll Bones.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown follows Tana, who lives in a world where ever since an outbreak of vampirism, vampires are out and feared, even though they’re (mostly) quarantined in gated cities, called Coldtowns.
Generally, once you enter a Coldtown you never leave. But this is the era of social media. And live streaming happens from these Coldtowns, showing glamorous 24-hour parties, thus enticing some humans to freely go there to serve as, well, food. It’s shown as romantic, but reality differs.
Back on the outside, you’re also never quite safe from the stray vampires. Tana learns this the hard way in Chapter 1 when she wakes up after a party to a house full of dead bodies. In escaping the house, she rescues her ex, who got bit, and gets bit herself. They also rescue a vampire seemingly on the outs with his peeps who wants to get to Coldtown.
Given the trading value on vampires if you deliver them to a Coldtown is a free ticket out, and fact they might be infected, they head to the nearest Coldtown. They also pick up two fangbangers on the way who are vlogging their journey to Coldtown. Oh! And, their “bounty vamp”? He’s a big deal, and key to how the outbreak started. Also? Smoking hot. And shockingly crushing on Tana.
The book is slow in places, but the lore is solid. This quote – and the fact the book sincerely tries in places to answer the question – wins me over:
The big question of vampires, the question that haunts governments and individuals alike, the question that bugs me every night when I see their red eyes watching the citizens of Coldtown the way hungry cats watch fish in a bucket is: What are they? Are they diseased or demonic? Are they citizens who have become ill, deserving hospitals and care, as some have argued? Or are they the bodies of our loved ones animated by some dark force that we ought to seek to destroy?
U is for Urs from Forever Knight, a Canadian TV series about Nick Knight, an 800-year-old vampire working as a police detective in modern-day Toronto. It ran from 1992-1996.
Like so many of his fellow undead, Nick is wracked with guilt from centuries of being BAD and killing others and is seeking redemption through his work as a (night shift) homicide detective.
Refusing to feed from humans, he survives by drinking bottled animal blood. The only one who knows his true nature is his friend Natalie, a city medical examiner who helps him in his quest for humanity.
Getting back to Urs, she moves into the ‘hood as part of bigger baddy vagabond vamp Javier Vachon’s crew some time between the second and third seasons. She was turned by Vachon in New Orlean’s in the 1890s and has been with him ever since. She is a dancer at The Raven, a nightclub in downtown Toronto that, unbeknownst to its human patrons, is also frequented by vampires.
I’m always intrigued by female vampire characters, and the somewhat mixed rescue fantasy that seems to accompany some of their turnings – Urs’ being no exception. I’d like to think the moral generally pulled from these tales is that there really isn’t a simple fix for life’s problems.
As for Urs and Forever Knight more generally, if you want to see them in action, the entire series is on YouTube and Urs’ last episode is here.
Last but in no way least, I give you vampire hunting legend Peter Vincent from Fright Night for the letter V.
We previously featured Evil Ed from the 1985 cult classic, so you can get the background on the movie there.
But in a nutshell, Charley discovers his neighbour Jerry Dandrige is a vampire and when no one believes him he goes to his hero Peter Vincent, a famous horror movie actor of yesteryear who now hosts a horror movie TV series called Fright Night, to stop his neighbour.
Charley is initially disappointed when Peter Vincent dismisses him as an obsessed fan. However, Vincent does discover Jerry’s true nature and reluctantly resumes his “Vampire Killer” role and helps our hero save the day.
Director Tom Holland conceived the character when answering the question “Who would a horror-movie fan go to in this situation?” The answer? Vincent Price! In the 1980s, many American TV stations had horror hosts. His character was named in after horror icons Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Said Holland of the character:
The minute I had Peter Vincent, I had the story. Charley Brewster was the engine, but Peter Vincent was the heart.
The character also changed with the times. In the 2011 remake, Vincent is a Las Vegas magician.
Which worked better? You decide. Here’s a Fright Night vs Fright Night mash-up.
Tune in tomorrow as we end the alphabet on Halloween!