Monster of the Day #96

Coelacanth blood. Is there anything it can’t do?

  • The Rev.


    I wonder if you’d had this planned, or responded to people’s affection for him in the previous MotD thread.

    You have to admit, for the time period, that’s a pretty good likeness.

    Seems crazy to me there’s never been a giant dragonfly movie. I mean, they’re fast, they’re voracious carnivores, they’ve got those crazy mandibles…the closest we’ve got are the Meganeura and Megaguirus. Not quite the same.

  • BeckoningChasm

    As Sandy pointed out, the wings would be really hard to do convincingly. The Deadly Mantis’ wings just looked silly (at best).

    (Of course, the one shot they used of a real mantis was very effective.)

  • John Campbell

    I honestly never knew dragon flies were carnivores!

    Brings them into a whole new light!

    I wish I could get the fiancee to watch some of these with me. Sadly if there isn’t enough blood flowing she loses interest!

    Plus netflix hoses us at times with movies they claim are captioned and aren’t. (Metalstorm: the destructionof jared syn is a fine example. Didn’t even have damn menu! Put the disc in and it just starts.)

    How freaking hard is it in this day and age to add closed captioning or SDH!

    Aahhhh I’m missing so much good cinema!

    Whew…okay…I’m better now.


  • BeckoningChasm

    John, not only are they carnivores, they’re damn good at it. Supposedly their eyesight is so keen that they can see gnats and things of that size at a distance of several yards.

    As for the closed captioning, write the studios, write Netflix, write the captioning folks, write everyone you can think of. I imagine the main reason all films aren’t captioned is cost–someone has to sit there and transcribe the movie, sound effects, and so on. Many DVD offerings are probably not captioned because someone said, “We probably won’t get any additional rentals or sales if we add captioning, so let’s just skip it.”

  • Ericb

    Would the saber toothed German Shepherd be consistered a monster?

  • The Rev.

    BC: Yeah, there is that, as he said. Still, I’d have taken crappy flying shots to get a giant dragonfly movie. It couldn’t have looked any worse than the Giant Claw…

    JC: Yeah, they are ravenous; one nickname for them is “mosquito hawk.” The larvae will eat mosquito larvae, tadpoles, minnows…anything they think they can handle. Once adults, they eat gnats, mosquitoes, and flies. Their speed and eyesight let them catch prey in midair, and their limbs form a basket to hold the prey so they can eat while flying.

    Between their hunger, their speed, and their wicked mouthparts (larvae have an extendable hooked pincer under their head, adults have two pairs of sharp tearing mandibles under a protective hood), it’s astounding to me they’ve not been used.

  • Ericb: Hmm, even as a kid I don’t think I thought of the “antediluvian throwback” dog as a monster. Maybe if it killed someone.

  • Ericb

    They’re obviously a well designed predator as they’ve hardly changed in 300 million years. And really, as “living fossils” go dragonflies (and cockroaches and horseshoe crabs) put coelacanths to shame.

  • actually dragonflies don’t pre-date coelocanths. It’s just that coelocanths were supposed to be extinct for 70 million years. But the first coelocanths and the first dragonflies are about the same time.

    One major obstacle to a dragonfly as a flying terror is that while they are highly efficient aerial predators, they aren’t too effective vs. ground-based prey (like humans). I mean, I guess it could attack airplanes, but let’s face it – airplanes aren’t very edible, and even if we posit a metal-eating superdragonfly, a monster that can be thwarted by taking the train instead of United Airways loses some of its panache. a

    Now, wasps DO attack ground-based prey, can fly as well as a dragonfly, and have a terrifying extra weapon to boot. Plus the fate of a wasp victim is unthinkably awful. Finally, wasps are social so you could have a final scene take place inside a gigantic nest.

    I love dragonflies, but giant wasps seem like they’d be even better.

  • Rock Baker

    A Mosquito Hawk, at least in local terms, isn’t a dragonfly. Mosquito Hawks look just like mosquitos, they’re just much, much larger and are supposed to feed on regular mosquitos. They can get a big as your thumb (nose to tail-tip), and are probably the true source of the joke that the mosquito is the State Bird of many a southern state. I’ve known people who moved here from the West and been freaked out by seeing a mosquito hawk for the first time, thinking them to be giant mosquitos. Mosquito hawks are harmless to humans, and unlike similar flying insects of the same size, don’t even bite or sting.

    I’d been dreaming of making a period 50s giant bug movie someday, and a dragonfly was going to be my menace. Either that or a stick insect, since we have both in abundance around here and both look like they could sufficiantly terrorize a city if grown to proper size. The mental image of either clinging to a skyscraper (much like that shot in Mant!) makes me feel all warm and cozy.

    The Deadly Mantis only had one moving wing! Frankly, I’ve seen far worse flying scenes.

    Giant wasps were the subject of Monster From Green Hell, sort of. Any blemishes the film has are negated by the scene of a giant stop-motion wasp-monster fighting with a giant python!

  • EGM3

    The thing in Texas known as a ‘mosquito hawk’ is actually a crane fly. They are as Rock Baker described: enormous.

  • The Rev.

    I haven’t heard anyone call them anything but “crane flies” since I moved here. I don’t refer to dragonflies as “mosquito hawks” either, but recalled it as a nickname for them from my youth (I’m from the Midwest).

    Sandy: Yeah, wasps are also one I’m surprised they have hardly used. We’ve got, what, Green Hell and Food of the Gods? As far as dragonflies, I figured they’d just swoop in and grab people off the ground, reality be damned. Maybe a scene with hang gliders. These would obviously not be Giant Mantis-sized critters; maybe bus-sized.

  • John Campbell

    BC and company: thank you for all the cool info on dragon flies. I will not see them the same again for sure!

    I agree on the wasps too. Bad news dying that way.

    BC – Netflix won’t do it for their streaming stuff because it would take too much space and or time to create…blah blah blah…as for cost, there are many who need a job in this country. Typing isn’t hard. Put em to work captioning!

    I have solved the economy! Crisis averted!


  • Rock Baker

    Sometimes regional terms don’t go too far. I have a friend who was born farther south but in the same state. What I call Cicadas (or Jar Flies, they’re big, noisy, and have a bite that’ll knock you to your knees), HE grew up calling locusts. I’m not sure there’s a spot in the country where people don’t know what a locust is (which is to say, flying grasshoppers), so I don’t know what caused this confusion.

  • Rock Baker

    Oh, and I should probably mention my Grandmother. Stick Insects, or Walking Sticks (the most common name for them around here), to her were Devil’s Horses. Not sure where that one came from. (She knew Scorpions as Stingin’ Lizards, and I can sorta get that one.)

  • TongoRad

    I never knew that cicadas had that powerful of a bite; they are usually thought of as being pretty harmless (I’m in the NYC area). Actually, when I was growing up we visited my grandmother in Louisville every summer- the kids down there would gather what looked to me like a cicada and fly them with a string tied to their leg. They may have called them June Bugs, I dunno, it was a long time ago. But, no bite.

    By way of that- we do have some cool bugs up here: Cicada Wasps. They are very large and intimidating by sight (black and yellow stripes, a good inch and a half long), and dig long and intricate tunnels that make them impossible to get rid of. Thankfully they don’t really attack humans, just the cicadas. It is quite a sight watching them from your deck flying while carrying a stunned cicada in its legs, off to the tunnel for God knows what.

    But what if they all suddenly turned on us?!! Dun Dun DUNNN…

  • Richard Henry Benson

    There’s always the giant killer wasp movie parody “War of the Wasps” by fictional schlock horror writer Garth Merenghi – while not as funny as Darkplace, it’s still well worth watching, especially followed by Garth’s paranoid ramblings about the Danes trying to crossbreed a human-wasp hybrid super race they’ll then use to conquer the world.

  • Rock Baker

    I’ve heard others say that cicadas don’t bite, or don’t bite all that hard. I was bit once as a kid and avoided them ever since, they bite and they hurt bad! (I’ve also been at odds with some as to the fact that katiedids -green locust like critters that screech at dusk- bite, after relating how I’d been bitten by one. I was later vindicated when a captive katiedid chomped down on someone’s finger.) Its the cicadas that leave little larva husks attatched to trees around here (just like dragonflies, but bigger). I used to collect these husks, thinking they’d make great giant monsters, what with their crab-like claws and bettle-like bodies.

    June Bugs are pretty common around here too. They look like flying green beetles. I’ve heard of attatching a string to them, but I could never get a knot around those little legs myself. They have a good grip, but aren’t known for biting. I understand they CAN bite, but not very hard.

  • GalaxyJane

    LOL, I have flown June Bugs in my youth. And cicadas were almost always called either Locusts (Central VA) or Jar Flies (My granny in Halifax) when I was a kid, although I haven’t heard either term for a while.

    I never knew that Mosquito Hawks were actually crane flies though, I always love watching them.

  • The Rev.

    I have never heard of cicadas biting people, but then I almost never see one, just hear them. (I have found a lot of shells over the years, though. We had a tree whose super-rough bark was apparently very appealing to the cicades, as we’d find several shells on it every time they molted.) Same with June bugs, and I’ve held a few of those over the years. Grasshoppers, locusts, and katydids, yeah, they’ll bite, and it’ll hurt, although usually ‘hoppers just spit that black stuff out at you.

    The first cicada killer wasp I saw here in Dallas, I thought it was a dragonfly until it landed. Then a Ranger Rick article I read probably 20 years ago flashed back from the depths of my mind, and I remembered what they were. Later that year, one nearly crashed into my head in the pool. I guess its cicada cargo was too heavy, and it fell from the sky and hit the water. It had to fly off without its cargo, which I scooped up, examined, and then set on the side near a grassy area, wondering if the wasp would happen to come back and find it. They are pretty damn cool.

  • I’ve handled many cicadas and have grave doubts about their ability to bite, based on their anatomy.

    Therefore. I’m going to surmise that the “biting cicada” that nailed Rock Baker as a kid might possibly have been a giant water bug or perhaps a backswimmer. Both look a little like a cicada (particularly the backswimmer), through kid-sized eyes, and they both pack a wallop. Both can fly too. Both leave a deep puncture filled with digestive juices, which is very unpleasant.

    I guess we could have the giant dragonflies pick us up off the ground. Another issue is that giant dragonflies aren’t really very scary, at least not to me. It would be like having giant butterflies. But then I guess I’m not afraid of mantises either. Or shrews. So maybe I’m not the target audience. Rabbits of course, send me into a blind panic.

  • Rock Baker

    You might be right, Sandy, the bite certainly sounds correct, as I remember a big, ugly, painful welt on my thumb from the bite. Just how aquatic are they, as their names imply? I was well away from any bodies of water when I got hit (I grabbed it off a tree in the back yard, where the cicadas usually hang out), so do they migrate between their watery homes? Or maybe fly ‘inland’ to find food from time to time?

  • The Rev.

    Giant water bugs and backswimmers can both fly, unless I’m mistaken. I know backswimmers can; there’s no other way they could’ve gotten from the lake into our above-ground pool. I was always very careful removing them, since I’d heard they could bite. Luckily I never ran into a giant water bug.

    If you pulled one of them off a tree thinking it was a cicada, I’m guessing it’d be a giant water bug; backswimmers are pretty small.

    Sandy: There are definitely uglier bugs out there, although their mandibles are nasty. The larvae are pretty creepy though, especially with that claw of theirs. But yeah, I wasn’t scared of the Deadly Mantis, the Deadly Shrews, or the Giant Gila Monster (he’s so cute!) for that matter. Giant ticks work pretty well on me, though.

    OH, here’s one! Centipedes! Creepy ugly critters with poison fangs and unholy speed. How is it I’ve only seen one movie about those? (Well, there’s one in one of the Chinese Ghost Story movies, but he’s not the featured critter.) The props for that movie weren’t bad, but didn’t quite work. I actually think CGI might be good for a giant centipede movie, to catch their speed and just-not-rightness.

  • Rock Baker

    Here’s one time I can sort of get behind a CGI monster. Centipedes are so sickly and shiney looking, they’d be a good match for computer animation. I’d say centipedes don’t get much play because they’d be so complex to build/operate/animate, what with all those constantly moving legs. Even creepier would be a variety of centipede we have around here. They look like cave bugs of some sort, with long hair-like legs and a pale bluish color. They’re fast too!

  • sandra

    When I was a girl in Toronto, we had a massive infestation of Jen bugs one year. They were dark brown beetles about as long as your thumb, and there were millions of them. You literally could not walk down the street without crunching them under your feet. They didn’t fly, though they would drop onto your head from streetlights at night. Looking back, it seems to me that the problem lasted all summer, but it was probably only a couple of weeks. So whatever bugs people were flying on a string, they can’t have been June bugs. One of the films-within-a-films in POPCORN is THE MOSQUITO, which neatly skewers all the cliches of 50’s Giant Bug movies: stoic hero, lady scientist, odious comic relief ( I sooo wanted The Mosquito to get that guy !

  • Rock Baker

    Could be what are called June Bugs are different critters between the US and Canada (just look at how many parts of the US give the same name to different bugs). Here in the Ozarks, June Bugs are flying pretty green beetles about as big as the end of your thumb. We also have some smaller brown ones that are built very much like June Bugs, but I’m not sure what they’re called (I think I’ve heard them called May Bugs before). I’m not sure what hit Toronto, but they don’t sound like the kind of June Bugs we have here. (For what its worth, June Bugs are listed in an American insect field guide I have from the early 60s. The picture matches the June Bugs I grew up with.)

  • The Rev.

    To us in the Midwest, June bugs are what you call May bugs (the brown ones a little larger than a thumbnail). We didn’t have those big green ones you’re talking about, at least where I grew up.

    We do have a few large, metallic-green beetles here in Dallas; I think they’re Japanese beetles or something like that.

  • Rock Baker

    This has probably been the most educational Monster of the Day yet!