Hunters at NYCC: Gale Anne Hurd on Why New Series Is Scarier Than Walking Dead

Ileane Rudolph
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Forget about "walker" school—here comes Hunter boot camp. The first ladies of sci-fi and horror entertainment, Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)  and Natalie Chaidez (12 Monkeys, V) and legendary genre writer Whitley Strieber  (The Hunger, Wolfen) took the stage at New York Comic Con to introduce their upcoming collaboration Hunters, premiering on Syfy in April.

"When I read Whitley's Alien Hunter books, I thought this was it," says Hurd. "This is the way we can tell the story of aliens among us and who do we become as humans when we try to track them down."

The "we" in this story are the members of ETU, a covert group at Homeland Security who are dispatched to take down terrorists of the non-human variety. (A kind of sci-fi Homeland.)

Filmed in Australia, the series stars Aussie actor Nathan Phillips (The Bridge) as a Philadelphia cop whose wife goes missing, which brings him to the ETU.  He partners up with gorgeous young Regan (Britne Oldford), who looks human but is from an alien race called Hunters. "She wants to be human and adapts her urges and instincts to hunt her kind of people. She has an incredible conflict," the Canadian actress explained during the panel.  Another familiar Down Under face appears in the show: Six Feet Under's Julian McMahon, playing a violent junkie and Hunter cell leader. (He's also in  December's Syfy limited series Childhood's End.)

One of the coolest parts of the event was a video hosted by Philips, who wasn't on the panel. He took the audience on a behind-the-scenes tour, letting us watch the birth of an alien baby, yucky autopsies of varied monsters and alien skulls made through 3-D printing.

The most surreal part was Strieber's digression on his own possible close alien encounter and how that led to "the core struggle reflected in the series." Among the questions, the author of a memoir about his experiences noted, "Are we alone in the universe. If aliens are here, are they scared of us, or eating us from inside." OK, that was as creepy as the monster autopsies.

Talking about the difference between the popular zombies in her Walking Dead series and Hunters'  aliens,  Hurd closed out the panel explaining that while both may examine whether humans  become the monsters they fear, "the fear resonates in an entirely new way" in her latest show. "These aliens can talk to you."

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