Archive for Thylacine


Posted in Cryptids with tags , , , , on June 15, 2017 by MONSTERMINIONS

While in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia I picked up this 1896 color lithograph print by naturalist Richard Lydekker. It’s a Thylacine, an extinct marsupial carnivore once found in Tasmania. Some people believe there are remnant populations still around in the rural areas of Tasmania. The proprietor of the antique book store from which I purchased the print conveyed a story which I will paraphrase.

Some time ago a Tasmanian woman was in the shop, and thumbing through some prints came across a sketch of a Tasmanian Tiger. She nonchalantly noted, as if talking about the weather, that she had once seen a “tiger” some 30 years ago crossing a road in Tasmania. The shape and stripes, and low drooping hind-quarters were unmistakeable.

Here’s a famous water color by AE King, available as a post card from the Museum of Natural History in Sydney.

Here’s a reconstuction of an ancient Thylacine from the Sydney Museum.

Monsterminions Top 10 Cryptids

Posted in Cryptids with tags , , , on January 11, 2013 by MONSTERMINIONS

Here’s my list for the top 10 most believable Cryptids:

1. Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger. These creatures existed. They’re probably extinct, but I think there is a rare chance that a population might still exist in mountainous and rural Tasmania and associated islands.
2. “Giant Insects”. The extinct Lord Howe Island Stick Insect isn’t extinct. It was found on remote Ball’s Rock. Perhaps there are other large insects that have escaped man’s observation.

3. Giant Octopus. I’m not referring to giant or colossal squid, but their cephalopod relatives the Octopi. I think there is good chance that the St. Augustine Florida beach monster (1896) was indeed a monstrous octopus.

4. Yeti, Alma, Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Skunk Ape, Stiyaha and Skoocooms. I’m lumping the whole lot as the same beast from different cultures, myths and geographies. I find it odd (supporting evidence?) that just about every culture has stories of the giant hairy man-beast.
5. Orang Pendek. The little bigfoot. The remoteness of Indonesia, coupled with the diversity of the Sumatran rainforests could support this diminutive cryptid. More and more sightings are being documented:
6. Nessie. Nessie isn’t a single beast. I think there is a remote possibility a colony of amphibious/aquatic creatures reside in Loch Ness. I don’t think the creatures are plesiosaurs or air-breathers for that matter. I’m thinking they have gills and don’t require respiration at the surface. Big larval salamanders! Maybe Archaeoceti (ancient whales):
7. Champ and Ogopogo. Lake monsters! I find it harder to believe that inland lakes Champlain (New York and Vermont) and Okanagan (British Columbia) could support reptilian denizens.
8. The original El Chupacabra. Mangy coyote-dog hybrids are roaming Texas! I don’t believe in the extraterrestrial goat-sucker with glowing red eyes, claws and fangs.
9. Mothman. Perhaps a demon? Mothman is perhaps the most enigmatic of the cryptids. I think we have mass hysteria at play here…

10. The Jersey Devil. Too weird.

Honorable Mention: The Mad Gasser of Mattoon Illinois. What a story!


The Hunter (2011)

Posted in Cryptids, Miscellania with tags , , on April 3, 2012 by MONSTERMINIONS

There is no doubt that these had been made by a Tasmanian or pouched wolf (Thylacinus cynocephalus), a sort of marsupial wolf, which, by chance, is striped like a tiger on the middle of the back, rump, thighs, and tail… It walks on its fingers, it puts the whole sole of the foot on the ground, and so leaves relatively larger footprints… It’s Latin name means “the pouched dog with the wolf’s head”.

-Bernard Heuvelman, On the Track of Unknown Animals, 1965.

In tone, The Hunter (2011) reminds me of Werner Herzog’s film based on an aboriginal tale Where the Green Ants Dream (Wo die grünen Ameisen träumen) (1984), which used the Australian outback as a central character. The Hunter does the same, weaving the striking Tasmanian landscape against a storyline of greed, corruption and deceit. The Hunter is a character study and carried by Willem Dafoe’s compelling performance as Martin David.

Dafoe plays a soldier of fortune type on contract with Red Leaf Bio-Tech, a company tracking down a rare (thought to be extinct) marsupial canine called a Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine. Early on we learn that Martin David appreciates warm baths and classical music. His quarry resides in rural Tasmania. Thylacines actually existed and were hunted to extinction during the beginning of the 20th-Century. The last specimens died in a zoo in the early 1930’s. Hunter Martin David is in pursuit of the last Thylacine.

Along the way he befriends two young children and an estranged mother. Her naturalist husband disappeared in the deep Tasmanian forest and never returned. We also meet local loggers who assume David is a “greenie” protecting the profitable forests. Tension is set in the early stages of the film.

Like Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe is always fun whether he is ice-fishing in Maine with John Lurie in the underrated and short-lived series Fishing with John (1998), hamming it up as Max Shreck in Shadow of the Vampire (2000), hilarious as Klaus Daimler in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) or in an amusing bit-part as an electrician in Basquiat (1996). His presence seems to elevate films from the humdrum to cult status. To quote Steve Buscemi [commenting on actor Bronson Dudley in Trees Lounge (1996)]: I could watch this guy all day.

He’s at his best in The Hunter. This film takes a leftist stance; however it’s done in such a beautiful manner I didn’t recognize it as a political film. To me it was all about Dafoe and the striking scenery and his relationship with this troubled family. Director Daniel Nettheim has crafted a superb eco-thriller (one sequence gave me sweaty palms) and one of the best films I’ve seen yet all year. Kudos also to DOP Robert Humphreys who elegantly captured the Thylacine on film. Or was it CGI?

B. Heuvelman. 1965. On the Track of Unknown Animals, Hill & Wang, NY. pg. 123-124.