Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Creature Week - Cryptids

Cryptids are one of my favorite kind of monsters. When I was a kid, once a week we would take a trip to the library and I would bring home at least one book on sasquatch, lake monsters and backwoods creatures. As I grew older, it was this fascination with these urban myths that fed into my love of horror, especially creature features.

Sadly, however, finding quality horror movies or fiction that make good use of these beasts is much more difficult to find. I have never understood why. To be honest, I find supposed eye-witness accounts of these creatures rather disturbing enough, and I don't even believe they exist! Think of how easily a decent film could get under my skin! It would be fantastic. But usually I am stuck with terrible z-grade schlock films that are far from frightening. Not to say they can't be good entertainment though.

Baby:Secret of the Lost Legend
Far from a horror film, this cheesy little gem from my childhood had to be mentioned when talking about cryptid movies. It is one of the only movies I know of that tackles one of my favorite modern myths, Mokele Membe. I won't talk much about it. It just had to be mentioned.

Brotherhood of the Wolf
Again, this isn't really horror, but an amazing film. In fact this is actually one of my favorite films of all time. Depicting a more fanciful version of the Beast of GĂ©vaudan, it is a beautifully directed film.

ok, now some actual horror...
Night of the Demon
Not to be confused with the much better Night of the Demons, this film is a deplorable work of schlock and gore. A cheesy, low budget film of a rampaging Bigfoot (or carpet clad stuntman) running around killing all humans in his path. Like many creature features and schlock horror films of the post exploitation era, it is mainly about the visceral FX, and how many bizarre kills you can fit into an evening. If you are looking for something gruesome, and unintentionally funny, this film might just fit the bill. If you can find it of course.

Honorable mention of course has to go to my favorite television series of all time. The X-files. A short marathon of this show would make for an enjoyably freaky halloween.

This book, by the hilarious, A. Lee Martinez, is a riot of a read. Though he rarely writes sequels (something rather strange for a genre author these days) I would love to see a continuation of this book and its characters. It follows a group of individuals who help capture or in extreme cases exterminate cryptids. A premise not too dissimilar from Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International novels (also great fun). With Martinez's hilarious sense of humor, and wonderful dialogue, anything he writes is a gem. But this one will always crack me up. If you like crazed monsters and humorous protagonists, this is a fun quick read.

Little Brothers
I am not sure anyone reading this and hoping to read this book will be able to find it. If you do, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I bought a handful of horror novels from a library sale one year, each paperback costing me no more than a few quarters each. I rarely expect much from these books, but perhaps that is why I end up enjoying them so much. No let down to be had. Little Brothers is a typical creature feature horror novel of a small town, and a group of kids terrorized by little creatures from Native American legend. It really doesn't break any new ground here, but it makes for a fun summer night read.
Update- I just learned that most of Rick Hautala's novels, including Little Brothers, are now available for the kindle for under a buck each!

The Flock
Sometimes, some of the best horror novels I have read, are not horror novels at all. They are in a sense thrillers of one kind or another. Just as most of Michael Crichton's work does not get lumped in with science fiction, these books are more accessible than the usual genre defined novels. The Flock is at its heart, an eco-thriller by James Robert Smith, dealing with the effects we have on our environment. But in order to tell this tale, he pushes the idea to the limits, enlisting a flock of long-surviving prehistoric birds, to terrorize his human victims. If you like the earlier work of the late Crichton, or Douglas Preston, I highly suggest this book. A fun, witty book of big bird induced monstrosity.

Honorable mention goes to two recent books I read, Eric Penz' Cryptid and William Meikle's Abominable, both taking well documented historical persons and events and filling in the gaps with cryptozoological nasties.

This series quickly got my attention. Not just because of Image Comics return to indie creator owned works, but also because the guys creating it are a couple of Canadians. It is like a fun blend of Tarzan, Bigfoot, and the X-Files. Imagine if the government not only had a group to investigate cryptids and legendary monsters, but trained one of the most famous cryptids as its lead agent. Proof is dark, fun and brilliant. A must read for horror comic fans.

No comments:

Post a Comment