With Hatchet III (review) making its debut on Blu-ray and DVD, we’ve been in something of a celebratory mood here at Dread Central. In fact, we’ve decided to bring you yet another list inspired by Victor Crowley and the Hatchet series.
Indeed Mr. Crowley is not the only ne’er-do-well to ever haunt a swamp. We did some digging and found 13 gruesome characters that all resided in swamps or lagoons or some other marshy type of land, hidden away from society’s prying eyes.
We’ve compiled a list that consists of entries that range from movie, television and comic book characters, real-life swamp dwellers and legendary creatures who have been said to roam the watery areas. And, of course, we have to give you some of our favorite honorable mentions. The History Channel’s popular show “Swamp People” gives you a look at some scary folks from down on the bayou. Also on TV, “Gilligan’s Island” certainly had plenty of baddies around their lagoon, including cannibals and a voodoo priest. Some film swampers include the Firefly Clan from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects as well as the huge gator from the underrated Rogue. And finally, some legends we learned about while researching this piece include Mokele-mbembe, the Grootslang and Lernaean Hydra. All creatures worth looking into if you’re jonesing for more swamp material.
The Honey Island Swamp Monster
This Bigfoot-esque creature has been rumored to live in the Honey Island Swamps (which happen to be the same lands stalked by Victor Crowley) since 1963. It’s also known as Letiche to the Native Americans, and the Cajuns dubbed it Tainted Keitre. Score one for the Cajuns for best name! Folklore states that the beast possibly could have been spawned after a traveling circus wrecked in the swamp in the early 20th century, releasing chimpanzees into the area. And said chimps mated with alligators, thus creating the beast. That’s a tough explanation to swallow, but the Honey Island Swamp Monster is still a great legend!
Gollum-The Lord of the Rings Series
Stunningly played by Andy Serkis, the motion-captured former hobbit formerly known as Smeagol stole the show in The Lord of the Rings series. He indeed inhabited his own watery, subterranean hideaway, subsisting on cave fish and small goblins before being disturbed by Bilbo Baggins. Eventually Gollum left his home in a lake at the roots of Misty Mountain and had one of the greatest adventures ever captured on film.
Written and directed by Wes Craven, and inspired by the DC Comics character, Swamp Thing kicked ass. The comic was created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, and the film starred Louis Jourdan, Adrienne Barbeau and Ray Wise. In the movie Dr. Alec Holland was trying to create a plant-animal hybrid able to survive in extreme environments. However, the meddling of the devious Dr. Anton Arcane (doesn’t he sound devious?) leads to the good doctor becoming Swamp Thing. And then the good versus evil struggle between Swamp Thing and Dr. Arcane commences!
This is a fantastic Cajun legend! The Rougarou is another Bigfoot-like figure that is believed to have a human body and the head of a wolf or dog. The legend has often been used to persuade Cajun children to behave, but it has also been said that the Rougarou would hunt down and kill Catholics who did not obey the rules of Lent. Seems like a steep price to pay for not giving up fattening foods for 40 days. Yikes!
He’s an ogre! Sure, kids love him, but let’s be honest… Shrek is an ogre that lives in a swamp and would have been more than happy staying there, eating the flesh of any unfortunate passerby who happened upon his path. However, once Shrek got involved in big-time adventures, he pretty much left his flesh-eating desires behind him. But we can always hold out hope that there is one more Shrek movie in the works that shows what happens when the ogre gets sick of living by society’s rules and decides to start grinding bones into powder.
A demon summoned to exact vengeance, Pumpkinhead is indeed a handful to deal with! Originally resurrected by Lance Henriksen himself, Pumpkinhead went on to star in a slew of films, leaving a trail of bodies behind him. Director Stan Winston brought the original creature to life and did so in a tremendous fashion. Pumpkinhead is indeed the thing nightmares are made of!
A bunch of bearded rednecks living in West Monroe, Louisiana, came up with some particularly effective duck calls and somehow parlayed that into mega-fame and fortune. The only thing that’s scary about these guys is how much money they’re making. Scary money. I do have to admit that I tune in to their misadventures quite often; however, I’m still waiting for the episode when they run into the Rougarou!
Another legendary swamp-dwelling creature is the Bunyip of Australia. Its name is from the Wemba-Wemba language of the Aboriginal people of South Eastern Australia, and it means ‘evil spirit’ or ‘devil.’ Its common characteristics include a dog-like face, horse tail and dark fur as well as flippers and tusks like a walrus. They’ve also been known to have horns or a duck bill. That pretty much covers it. Oh, and they’re big. Research shows that (if this thing actually exists) it measures about 11 paces long by 4 paces wide. Depending on your paces, that’s one big-ass dog-faced bastard.
The Loch Ness Monster
Easily the most famous of our legendary creatures which may or may not exist is The Loch Ness Monster (and for those of you in the Northeast, if you’d like to include our American version of Nessie, Lake Champlain’s monster, Champ, feel free). The legend was born in 1933 with the infamous grainy photo of the beast that was later proven to be a fake. (Why is it that anytime we get a photo of Nessie, or Bigfoot, it’s always grainy? We have technology that can count the dimples on a golf ball from a satellite in outer space, but nobody can get a crisp, clear shot of any bigfeet or lake monsters. Come on, Apple; help us out!) Anyway, the Loch Ness Monster has been a favorite of legend chasers for years, and, without actually draining the entire body of water, you’ll never get everyone to believe the monster doesn’t exist. You gotta believe!
Arising in Marvel Comics in 1971 (and appearing in a 2005 television movie), The Man-Thing is a humanoid creature living in the Florida Everglades in a town called Citrusville. When he was a human scientist, his name was Dr. Theodore Sallis, but after his unfortunate transformation, he became The Man-Thing. His comic book history is long and storied, having him originally working on a serum to create super-soldiers similar to Captain American. Sallis even once worked with Dr. Curt Conners, who would go on to become Spider-Man nemesis The Lizard. The Man-Thing lacks human intellect but he’s strong as an ox and his body is practically invulnerable, mostly because it’s made out of vegetation and not entirely solid. And even if most of his body is ripped away, no worries; he can regenerate himself as well. He can also transform his body to ooze around things and into tight places. And the most touching aspect of his being is his connection to the swamp he lives in. In the earlier stories, if he left the swamp, his body would weaken and lapse into dormancy. There’s truly no place like home for The Man-Thing.
The last of our mysterious swamp creatures of legend is the unexplainable Will-o’-the Wisp. Not the most terrorizing name you’ve ever heard, but there are certainly some spooky possibilities surrounding this entity. The video below examines a specific series of Will-o’-the-Wisp occurrences known as the Marfa Ghost Light Phenomenon. Appearing as glowing orbs, folklore attributes the Will-o’-the-Wisp lights to fairies, elemental spirits or even witches who have been transformed into these glowing orbs. Whatever they may be, they’re creepy. And if you’re wandering about in a spooky swamp, the last thing you need is a bunch of unexplainable lights up in your face!
The Hillbillies of Deliverance
Here we take a rough turn from the loveable hillbillies of “Duck Dynasty” to the ornery, ass-raping hillbillies of the incredibly powerful thriller Deliverance. Not much need to go into detail with this one. Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronnie Cox (it was Cox’s and Beatty’s first films… kudos to Beatty for ever going back and making another movie after the whole “squeal like a pig” incident) decide to canoe down the Cahulawassee River in Georgia before it’s flooded by the construction of a dam. And bad, bad, bad things happen. Bad things! We’ve attached two clips from Deliverance with this entry, the fun-loving rendition of Cox and the hillbilly boy (Billy Redden) playing “Dueling Banjos” and the not at all fun-loving scene of the hillbillies playing with Ned Beatty. Seriously, though, it is an amazingly powerful scene. You’ve been warned!
The Gill-Man-Creature from the Black Lagoon
And now for the granddaddy of all the swamp dwellers…The Creature from the Black Lagoon! Known as The Gill-Man or The Creature, this character is right up there with the classic Universal Monsters. Played by Ben Chapman on land and Ricou Browning in the water, The Gill-Man is a horror mainstay. Directed by the legendary Jack Arnold, The Creature from the Black Lagoon was one of the first Universal movies released in 3D. It came out in 1954 and was re-released in the ’70s in broke-ass 2D format. But that didn’t stop The Creature from becoming iconic and taking his place beside the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man.
To enjoy all the murderous rampage that is Victor Crowley, be sure to pick up Hatchet III on Blu-ray and DVD as soon as you can. You have been warned!
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