Monthly Archives: March 2013

#4 – The Bloop

Two things are certain about the extreme depths of the Earth’s oceans. The first is that we don’t know as much as we should about them and the second is that somewhere down there is a colony of massive hell-monsters whose one and only goal in life is to find Japan and then smash it up a bit.

Cinema’s obsession with massive homicidal creatures from the deep is an ongoing one and the reason behind such fascination is obvious; some of the weird creatures we’ve dredged up from ocean trenches seem so intrinsically alien that it’s only logical to fear their massive, steroid-munching older siblings coming after us as vengeance for our sushi fixation. Couple that with the occasional globster washing up and injecting a little horrifying, mouldy reality into the theory of it all and suddenly you’ve got a solid basis for some serious box office gold.

Especially if you make your monster a massive vagina-mouthed dust mite, apparently.

Especially if you make your monster a massive vagina-mouthed dust mite, apparently.

Naturally it all sounds like hysterical Hollywood speculation, until you factor in the possibility that in 1997 we may have heard one of the fucking things.

The threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War felt like a very real one to the American navy and quite understandably, the last thing they wanted was a sneaky little pinko submarine creeping up on them and turning New York into little more than a fiery memory. The solution to that was an underwater array of hydrophones listening out for the devious little bastards in a zone known as the deep sound channel – the section of the sea where extreme cold and high pressure allows sound waves to travel, in scientific terms, really bastard far.

Thankfully, eventually America and the Reds decided that annihilating everyone on the planet probably wasn’t in humanity’s best interests and the need for the SOSUS array dwindled. Rather than mothballing the project the whole thing was handed over to science and has since been used to monitor all sorts of cool stuff like whale migrations and ice fracturing in the Antarctic. Oh, and in 1997, Cthulu rousing from his watery slumber.

A spectogram of the Bloop. Or a Predator-eye view of 9/11, I'm not sure.

A spectogram of the Bloop. Or a Predator’s-eye view of 9/11, I’m not sure.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration detected the Bloop several times over the summer of 1997 and it’s fair to say that at first, it put the willies up them a bit. Dr Fox at the NOAA was so convinced that the Bloop matched the frequency patterns and variations of mammal sounds like whale calls that he was a little spooked and changed vocations entirely, going on to work at Radio 1, where he made a lucrative living as an entirely insufferable prick.

I've not checked, but there's a slim chance this isn't the same Dr Fox.

I’ve not checked, but there’s a slim chance this isn’t the same Dr Fox.

Of course, the array picking up whale sounds wouldn’t have been that rare an occurrence. What was rare was that the Bloop was detected on so many sensors, some of them up to 4,800km apart. For the Bloop to be animal-made in origin and also make logical sense, this meant that whatever animal made it had to have noise-making apparatus several times larger than that of a blue whale. Y’know, the blue whale, the biggest animal that’s ever fucking lived.

Speculation over the origin of the Bloop continued for two decades, until the NOAA listened to some similar events and concluded in 2008 that despite the uncanny similarities to whale sounds, the Bloop was “consistent with icequakes generated by large icebergs as they crack and fracture.”

Of course, the joy of cryptozoology is that it’s far more fun to speculate wildly than it is to listen to the logical explanation, so they’re probably just lying to us all.

Cthulhu

Under the sea! Under the sea! It’s always better, down where it’s wetter, take it from AAARGH GOD MY FACE IT’S EATING MY FACE

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#3 – The Mongolian Death Worm

Deserts, as a general rule of thumb, are pretty shitty places to live. There’s very little to drink beside camel spit and your own tinkle, the dust gets in your eyes, and if you’re foolish enough to go wandering into the depths of the southern Gobi, there’s a chance you’ll be electrocuted by a five-foot worm the colour of blood. And that’s if you’re lucky and it chooses to zap you instead of vomiting toxic acid straight into your gawping face.

The Mongolian Death Worm - not just a euphemism for Ghengis Khan's cock.

The Mongolian Death Worm – not just a euphemism for Ghengis Khan’s cock.

The local name for the Death Worm is olgoi-khorkhoi, which translates literally as “large intestine worm”, because it’s pretty much universally described as looking like a fat chunk of cow guts hopped up on steroids. Local legend claims it can spit acid capable of corroding metal and killing a man on contact. Generally one genetic death-cannon is enough for most species but not the MDW; it’s also rumoured to be able to blast your balls clean off with a veritable hadouken of pure electricity. Mongolian folklore also firmly affiliates the worm with the colour yellow, claiming it stains everything it death-phlegms over a golden hue, presumably making it the archenemy of the equally apocryphal Green Lantern Worm. If you didn’t get that joke then well done you – you’ve probably got an actual functioning social life and everything.

Oh, and just in case a writhing coil of colon capable of melting your face off from several feet away wasn’t enough, the olgoi-khorkhoi also burrows underground, meaning it could potentially pop up just about anywhere before shuffling you right off this mortal coil. Normally there’d be one man for the job of protecting us all from underground worm-monsters but Kevin Bacon is now tragically too busy making awful adverts and fucking his cousin to help anyone.

How you go from Tremors to this dismal horsefuck abortion of an ad campaign is a mystery greater than any cryptid.

How you go from Tremors to this dismal horsefuck abortion of an ad campaign is a mystery greater than any cryptid.

Sadly, there hasn’t been much luck in the hunt for a verifiable example of the worm. Expeditions by zoologists and TV crews in 2005 and 2009 didn’t get much more than the usual local folklore, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that if there’s any chance of something dangerous with the initials W, M and D lurking in the desert, it’s better to be safe than sorry and we should bomb the living shit out of the area regardless.

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#2 – The Beast of Gevaudan & The Tsavo Man-Eaters

Peasants, children and buxom cheese-peddling damsels in 18th century France learned a pretty stark lesson over the course of three years starting in 1764 – chiefly, that the typical French response of unilateral surrender in the face of aggression was spectacularly useless when faced with a ravenous man-eating fuckbeast from the depths of Hell. Estimates vary, but the Beast of Gevaudan is generally credited with a good couple of hundred attacks, with upwards of one hundred of those attacks ending in human kills.

It’s likely the Beast was more than one animal, spread as the attacks were over quite a large area. But the witness accounts of the creatures were remarkably consistent – they were fanged, red-furred monsters with massive tails, bringing the stench of sulphur and old ass with them whenever they attacked. Naturally the whole demonic smell element (particularly when coupled with the Beast’s tendency to tear women and children to bits) put the royal shits up French peasants who saw the attacks as some kind of punishment from God.

I have no idea why he's wearing lipstick.

I have no idea why he’s wearing lipstick.

A huge amount of money was pissed up the wall in the pursuit of the Beast. Everyone from the terrified locals to King Louis XV got involved, with the king drafting in royal huntsmen to clear the woods of Gevaudan. A whole lot of wolves ended up on the shitty end of this deal but no matter how many the huntsmen killed, the attacks continued to escalate. Only when Jean Chastel, a local hunter, claimed to have shot and killed one of the beasts as it approached him while he prayed did the attacks cease.

Several theories about the origin of the Beast exist, ranging from werewolves to hyenas to unknown wolf-dog crossbreeds. Chastel himself fell under suspicion, owning as he did a giant red mastiff that some now think may have sired the Beast by humping a local wolf.

Today the Beast continues to grip the French imagination. It’s even featured in the Vincent Cassell flick The Brotherhood of the Wolf, an awesome movie that also happens to be the one and only piece of French cinema that involves more than black and white shots of short-haired women with their tits out smoking cigarettes. In the movie, the Beast is an African lion that a cult of mad bastards has dressed up in armour. I shit you not.

Tragically not pictured - Vincent Cassell's sword, which is MADE OF BONE AND ALSO A WHIP. Just see this fucking movie, will you?

Tragically not pictured – Vincent Cassell’s sword, which is MADE OF BONE AND ALSO A WHIP. Just see this fucking movie, will you?

It’s easy to see how 100-odd peasants dying horribly can foster terrified and exaggerated speculation about the animals involved. A more recent case didn’t involve a cryptid like the Beast of Gevaudan but warrants inclusion here simply for how mindfuckingly badass it is.

In 1898 the British weren’t very nice to you if you happened to be brown and nearby while the British needed something doing. One such thing the British wanted was a railway bridge over the Tsavo River in Kenya, a project that not only predated health and safety at work rules but actively didn’t give a shit how many of the local Hindu workers ended up dying as a result. This, coupled with the slave caravans en route to Zanzibar regularly crossing the river nearby, meant the whole region was awash with dead people. Or in the eyes of two local lions, ‘convenient snacks’.

By the time the workers realised their friends’ bodies were disappearing it was already too late – the Tsavo man-eaters had firmly established their preference for delicious, colonial-oppression-tenderised man meat. Pretty soon the two lions were regularly tearing open tents at night and dragging screaming workers off into the bush, earning them the utterly badass nicknames of The Ghost and The Darkness. Campfires, lookouts and enormous thorn fences couldn’t keep them out. The British overseers, apparently entirely nonplussed provided the murderous beasts weren’t spilling the brandy or interrupting afternoon tea, pretty much ignored the situation until 135 fucking people were dead. On top of all that, scientists since have calculated how many humans the lions would actually have had to eat to survive over the length of the attacks at a mere 35, meaning that most of the time they were just tearing people to chunks for fun. At this point workers were understandably fleeing the area, which finally did get the Brit’s attention.

Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson, pissed off that nine months of screaming night time festivities had tested his stiff upper lip, had finally had enough and decided to do something about it. Setting traps and hiding up trees with a big fuck-off gun over the course of several nights, he eventually killed both beasts. Lion number two didn’t go down easy, absorbing nine shots before finally dying while gnawing on a fallen branch, still trying to get at Patterson. In a weird genetic quirk, both of the male lions were pale and maneless and close to ten feet long.

Showing ultimate respect to his feline adversaries, Patterson had both of them made into rugs and spent the next 25 years walking all over their faces. The Tsavo Man-Eaters were eventually sold to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where they were stuffed and remain on display to this day.

Final score - 135 to 2.

Final score – 135 to 2.

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#1 – Globsters

This one is a bit of a cheat, as a ‘globster’ isn’t a specific cryptid but an umbrella term used to describe any and all of the weird and unidentifiable organic shit that washes up on beaches all over the world. There have been dozens that have caused media storms and freaked out locals who nevertheless generally turn up in droves to poke the rotting bag of meat with sticks before declaring that it must be a dinosaur or some sort of misplaced Godzilla miscarriage:

The St Augustine Monster, Florida 1986

The St Augustine Monster, Florida 1986


The hype surrounding globsters like the St Augustine Monster peaked in the late 19th and early 20th century, when everybody relied on newspapers and logical people couldn’t log online to pick apart the insanity of it all. A good monster story was excellent press and dragged a lot of tourists to the area, so a lot of hacks wildly publicised just about anything globster-related they could get their hands on. And then in 1924 they hit a slam dunk.

“Trunko” was sighted on October 25 off the coast of Margate, South Africa. And this globster wasn’t a rancid sack of flesh stinking up the beach like your mum on holiday in Benidorm – it was apparently alive and kicking, fighting with two killer whales off the coast.

Trunko

Where’s mah money, bitch?


For three hours witnesses watched Trunko – a fifty-foot, white and hairy ‘whale’ with a long trunk – battle the two orcas, jumping twenty feet out of the sea and thrashing them with its tail before the poor beast eventually conked out and washed up on the beach. The few photographs taken that day remained undiscovered until 2010, when a nerd much like me managed to dig them up:

Trunko Dead

Trunko also wins the award for ‘having a nickname an Australian would usually use for a mate with a big penis’.

Globsters remained a mystery until forensic techniques improved and proper scientists decided to shit all over the mystery of it all. Samples from the Saint Augustine Monster analysed at the Smithsonian turned out to come from the collagen matrix that supports whale blubber. Thus the mystery of Trunko and many others was solved – when a massive animal like a whale dies at sea, the carcass sinks until the bones separate from the flesh, at which point the tough collagen fibres lump into one enormous mass and pop to the surface like a rancid, thirty-tonne cork. The fibres are white and form long strands, making the whole disgusting blob look distinctly hairy and alien. Not that such an appearance puts the killer whales off – they take one look at the festering lump and then like to eat and play volleyball with it, for no other reason than they are the horrifying cannibalistic psychopaths of the sea.

The mystery of a lot of globsters was suddenly solved. They weren’t monsters at all, but simply lumps of congealed collagen left over from a mouldering corpse. Kind of like what we’d get now, if Leslie Ash died in the bath and nobody found her for three weeks.

Untitled

Why so serious?

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