He's had a lifelong love story with horror

OK, now I know I should have saved all my childhood toys and comics. Here's the story I sent to papers about the fascinating creator of "The Strain":


For anyone whose mom threw away his comic books, Guillermo
del Toro is an eternal inspiration.

He has saved everything and keeps adding more. “At some
point, (I) decided to live the way I dreamt of living when I was 10 years old,”
he said.

If he were an ordinary chap, he would be a hoarder. But he’s
an acclaimed filmmaker, with an Oscar nomination (for writing “Pan’s
Labyrinth”) and a cable series (“The Strain”); so he’s a curator.

“He has a museum, a wonderful museum he calls Bleak House
that he curates himself in a private home,” said John Landgraf, programming
chief of the FX networks. “It’s absolutely spectacular.”

Actually, it’s two homes, del Toro says, side-by-side in
suburban Los Angeles, totaling 11,000 square feet. “I’m the curator, the maid,
the butler, the service man.”

Those houses prove that del Toro was well ahead of TV’s
current interest in all things strange or scary. “I think horror … responds to
the pulse of the world,” he said. “And I think we are in a particularly
paranoid, vulnerable form, where we accept horror back in our lives.”

On broadcast TV, CW has pretty vampires and “Supernatural”
and more … ABC’s “Resurrection” was a late-season success … and NBC has had
Friday-night horrors. “Grimm” will be back in the fall, joined by the new “Constantine”
and, later, the return of “Hannibal.”

But it’s on cable -- home of AMC’s “Walking Dead,” HBO’s
“True Blood” and assorted Syfy shows – that horror thrives. FX, which already
had “American Horror Story,” linked  with
del Toro, who co-wrote the “Strain” novels and produces the series. “He is
really a truly original voice … and he absolutely loves and lives this genre,”
Landgraf said.

Carlton Cuse, the “Strain” show-runner, agreed: “Nobody
knows this genre as well as Guillermo.”

Added Sean Astin, a “Strain” co-star: “Guillermo gives the
best hugs of any director I have worked with.”

Don’t expect “Strain” to be huggable. Landgraf figures there’s
been too much of the “romantic vampire myth.” By comparison, he said, the “Strain”
crisis is a virus, taking over the host-human bodies. “These are disgusting,
parasitic, awful, worm-bearing vampires.”

Filming this can be rough at times. “I didn’t want to go
into my basement after watching the pilot,” said Mia Maesto, who plays one of
the two Centers for Disease Control doctors who grasped the threat.

Still, not everyone seems bothered. Ben Hyland, 12, who
plays the son of a CDC doctor, considers it “really cool …. If I had never come
on the show, I would be scared by the simplest things, but now I’m used to
this, so nothing can scare me now.”

That’s been del Toro’s approach. He’s been saving his toys
since he was 4, he said, and keeps adding books and art, in houses that have “secret
passages, secret book shelves that lead into rooms that are themed, …. with
life-size figures of characters I admire. I mean, it’s truly demented.”

“The Strain,” 10 p.m. Sundays, FX; reruns at 11:01
and (after a rerun of the previous episode) 1:03 a.m.

The Aug. 3 episode, the fourth, reruns late Wednesday
and Thursday nights – technically at 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday.

A marathon Aug. 9 has the first four episodes at
10 and 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.