This week’s assignment from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is just one word… Cryptozoology. Just perfect– my first post in over a year returning to The League and already they have me using a dictionary! Anyway, it’s defined as follows:
the search for and study of animals whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated, such as the Loch Ness monster and the yeti. (Thanks, google!)
So, what was my favorite creature of legend that spawned many a tall tale? Had to be The Gill-Man!
I’ve learned of many mythical sea creatures of legend and lore that ranged from the unbelievable (The Loch Ness monster) to the disturbingly realistic (giant alligators in the New York City sewers, massive killer sharks like the one in Jaws) to the sublime (mermaids and Mer-man), but none of them were as cool to me in the ’80s as the one and only Gill-Man.
The star of 1954’s black and white sci-fi feature “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” Gilly Ray Cyrus was basically a half-fish/half-man creature who, of course, could breathe underwater, since he had gills. He also had lungs, so he could breathe on land in the event his gills are damaged. The Gill-Man has a healing factor and is photophobic, meaning he’s afraid of bright light– likely due to all that time swimming beneath a black lagoon.
I first learned of The Gill-Man the way most kids my age learned about movie monsters– on the boob tube. It was around 1982 and WPIX Channel 11 in New York City was about to air a sequel to the original which was titled “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) in 3-D. Well, that grabbed me more than anything!
After asking what 3-D was and somehow getting special pairs of 3-D glasses to watch this thing (I think they were included in that Sunday’s Daily News, I can’t recall), my brother, Ma Classick and I hunkered down in front of the TV to watch this creature feature. Shock! Intrigue! Amazement! This movie had the creature in captivity, falling for a woman, committing several murders and eventually being shot several times to meet its demise at the end.
The iconic image of the Gill-Man carrying an unconscious woman in his arm was etched in my memory. I wasn’t just fascinated with The Gill-Man, I was a fanatic! I needed to know more! Was he possibly in the New York City sewers? Did he walk the subway tracks at night? Was he in the swamps of Louisiana? Does he only kidnap surface women or does he also date mermaids like Darryl Hannah?
Of course, I was only seven at the time they aired this movie on TV, so no real fact-finding follow-through took place. I do recall, however, thinking about The Gill-Man a few years later during my high school years, when some of the fellas and I would sneak onto the subway tracks and walk them in between stations (KIDS, DO NOT TRY THIS EVER!!). We’d always joke about meeting giant alligators and ninja turtles, but deep deep in the nether-recesses of my stupid teenage mind, I KNEW that one day, I’d meet the Gill-Man.
Didn’t happen, so I had to settle for this instead.
The Gill-Man did make a later appearance among other movie monster legends in 1987’s The Monster Squad, freshly re-designed by Stan Winston. Check out this clip which shows his death scene (spoiler!)…
Welp, that was my post for this week’s League assignment. It’s been a looooooong time since I participated in The League of Extraordinary Bloggers. It’s good to be back, as I’ve missed the fun of writing these posts and exchanging ideas (and links) with others. I want to thank Brian at CoolandCollected.com for managing The LoEB and for continuing to bring attention to creative bloggers from all over.
For more info on The League, or to find out how to join, visit them here.
Also, check out some other posts on this week’s Cryptozoology assignment from around The League! Trust me, a lot of these are beyond weird and great to read!
- Adam Nori
- GI Jigsaw
- Fortune and Glory Days
- Toy Box Revenge
- Cool and Collected
- Primordial Badger’s Media Hoard
- Ace Duck
- Superpowered Fiction
- Goodwill Hunting for Geeks
- Team Hellions
- Kalem Klub