"The Strain" unleashed with "Night Zero"

Cory Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather in a scene from "The Strain." FX

Anyone who tuned in for the premiere of FX's new summer series "The Strain" on Sunday night got one thing clear -- these are not the romantic, sparkly sorts of vampires we saw in "Twilight." Or even the sexy vampires fans swoon over on "True Blood." These are bloodsuckers of a totally different, more sinister variety.

That was by design for the series, which is based on the book series of the same name by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan and executive produced by Carlton Cuse ("Lost," "Bates Motel").

"I felt like there was a chance here to upend the vampire genre and tell a completely different type of vampire story with a completely different set of expectations," Cuse told CBS News earlier this year. "These vampires are really scary, and it's also this wonderful sort of urban tale about how New York society is upended by this strain of vampires that overrun the city. And the way that happens and unfolds is really interesting."

Scary, indeed. The series premiere, titled "Night Zero," opens with a plane landing in New York City with everyone aboard apparently dead, and a gigantic, coffin-like box in the cargo hold filled with soil. This attracts the attention of Centers for Disease Control biochemists like Ephraim Goodweather ("House of Cards" star Cory Stoll).

Of course, since this is a vampire show, the dead from the plane don't stay "dead" for long -- much to the dismay of the scientist tasked with performing the autopsies alone in a lab when the corpses become reanimated. (In what was a great, creepy touch, the bloodsuckers converge on him as Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" plays in the background.)

These vampires aren't the type with fangs, either. They suck blood in a way more akin to parasites, and infect their hosts with wormlike creatures to create new hosts.

There's also a vampire boss called The Master (did anyone else have flashbacks to "Buffy"?), other evil folks eager to do his bidding and an elderly shopkeeper named Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley, of "Game of Thrones," "Harry Potter" and "Broadchurch" fame) who has seen this evil before, keeps a bloodworm-infested heart in a jar at home and tries to warn officials about what's to come. Maybe it's the vampire talk or the fact that he tells them to decapitate and burn the bodies, but his warnings go unheeded. Big mistake, folks.

What did you think of this spooky summer series? Will you tune in for more of "The Strain"?

  • Jessica Derschowitz

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