For “The world would be a poorer, darker, lonelier place without them.”
Douglas Adams – Last Chance to See
‘The ‘B’ Files’ is a tongue-in-cheek series with a serious and relevant theme. It is a unique ‘field guide’ to a forgotten, ignored and misunderstood family of creatures that once brought chaos to the world.
‘B’ monsters were often inspired by living creatures – the looks and behavioural traits of their natural equivalents were, in many instances, as bizarre as the monsters themselves. We’ll be exploring the natural history of these unusual relatives in our quest to better understand the ‘B’s. And we find that, like the monsters of the 50’s, they too are among the forgotten, ignored and misunderstood.
The lifespan of the ‘B’ monster was destined to be short. As audiences became more sophisticated, the monsters that once wielded terror were laughed off the screen. They were forgotten. In some instances, body parts were left to rot in old studios (the Blob was found in a bucket).
Nowadays, the simple, inexpensive anatomy of the ‘B’ movie monsters cannot compete with the ‘A’ list computer-generated stars (transparent as they are).
And therein lies the message of ‘The ‘B’ Files’.
So much of the world’s living fauna can’t compete with the big stars either. It’s easier to generate love, awe and protection for pandas and white rhinos than the brine shrimp, the velvet worm, or the lungfish. They are the ‘B’s of the animal world. Destined to be ignored by an ever-demanding audience of humans who have been hypnotized by charismatic megafauna.
In presenting this unique series we explore the credible and the incredible – in the hope that laughter, fear and ignorance are not used as excuses to turn our backs on diversity ever again.
The Blob, The Tingler, The Brain Eaters and Giant Leeches; now extinct monsters; were all related to ‘B’ animals. The Blob was a simple, jelly-like creature that became bigger with every human it swallowed – and then it swallowed an entire picture theatre! As horrible as this creature may seem, it has a living relative – the giant amoeba. Be prepared to watch a real life horror drama when this microscopic phenomena pursues and swallows its prey; then grows and grows and grows! The ‘B’ monsters are no longer with us, but their relatives are; the leeches and velvet worms – lovely little monsters of Nature’s underworld. It’s time to look upon them with the awe they deserve!
TOO MANY LEGS
Wasps, ants, cockroaches, bees, flies, grasshoppers – not so interesting? Too many legs? Wait until they become really big, then you’ll appreciate their incredible biology! In the 1950’s, radiation mutated them into outrageous giants with an appetite for humans. Perhaps it was the only way they could earn our respect. Them, The Monster from Green Hell, The Beginning of the End, The Beast from Haunted Cave, starred ‘B’ monsters that demand respect. They tried to kill us all, but we killed them first. In death they ask us to look again at the insignificant animals of the planet. Appreciate their unique abilities. We ignore them at our peril!
Killer tomatoes; poisonous, parasitic, carnivorous plants, trees that snatch and kill; all with the intelligence to take over the planet. ‘B’ monsters from The Thing, Day of the Triffids and The Navy vs The Night Monsters take us into horrifying scenarios where plants kill. Their closest living realtives are the most misunderstood of all life forms. Perhaps that is why monster plants had to appear when they did. The Thing from outer space may have been the most fearful vegetable ever to have walked the Earth. Its closest relative is the carrot. No intelligence in a carrot, right? But now we know – carrots scream when they are picked! And some plants know how to make you scream too…
The lungfish is a strange creature – breathes like a mammal, lives like a fish. It is the closet living relative of one of the most misunderstood of all ‘B’ monsters, the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Many scaley ‘B’ monsters appeared at the height of their diversification in the late 1950’s, to star in films like The Giant Gila Monster, Hideous Sun Demon, The Alligator People and The Snake Woman. They insisted that we look at unappealing members of the animal kingdom through new eyes; to have compassion for the unsighhtly, the cold-blooded and the reptilian; to accept that no matter how repulsive a creature may be, it has a right to live its life with dignity.
Yeti’s, bigfoot, abominable snowmen, giant gorillas, wolfmen; hybrid human creatures, many straight out of mythology – the first ‘B’ monsters to evolve. There are still people who believe they exist. Mythical creatures have been discovered before. The giant squid was a sea legend until one was caught on film in 2006. And, for centuries, European explorers returning from Africa told stories of massive, hairy, man-beasts with immense strength. Early in the 20th century the monster was found and named – the mountain gorilla. The Abominable Snowman, Beast of Borneo, Captive Wild Woman, White Pongo and The Mad Monster, give a ray of hope that the ‘B’ monster lives! But, beware, while ‘B’ monster hunters continue their search, we turn our backs on the ‘B’ animals that we could save today!
FROM BENEATH THE SEA
Jellyfish, barracuda, octopuses, molluscs and manta rays; ocean creatures that never get the ‘A’ list treatment; not as inspiring as a whale or a great white shark; but they are the closest extant relatives of a group of impressive and irrepressable ‘B’ monsters. Through the lives and tragic deaths of Zaat, The Sea Bat, The Monster from the Ocean floor and The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, we can appreciate the true wonder of sea creatures capable of pulling down the Golden Gate Bridge or terrorising teenage beach parties. ‘B’ creatures from the sea show us how little we know about what lives below.
THEY CAME FROM THE UNKNOWN
In the 50’s and 60’s fear of the ‘other’ flourished. Cold War fears inspired visitations from outerspace. But the monsters who found their way to Earth were not completely alien. All of them evolved from creatures that actually exist. But none were welcomed. Creatures from Zontar, Monolith Monsters, It Came from Outer Space, 20 milllion Miles to Earth and Night of The Blood Beast give the same warning time after time. We kill what we do not understand.
And then there were the ‘B’s’ that came back from the past; Dinosaurs and other extinct creatures returning as The Beast from 2000 Fathoms, Beast from Hollow Mountain, The Giant Behemoth and coutless others. They weaked havoc on humankind and we sent them to extinction all over again. The ‘B’ monsters are now gone – but we have a chance to save the world’s ‘B’ animals – to give them equal billing with ‘A’ listers like the panda and the lion. Because time may be running out. In the 1950’s and 60’s some ‘B’ monsters were taken to the icey wastelands of the Arctic where it was assumed they would be renderred harmless – frozen in time. But now, the ice is melting…