Monster Design Thoughts

B-Movie Monster Reimagination Project Number TwoThe Monster of Piedras Blancas

Hmmm. Part of the reason I have such affection for this creature is his habit of decapitating his victims and wandering around with the heads in his claws. I saw the movie as a kid and that freaked me out. We’d definitely left Scooby Doo land behind. I don’t believe the movie explains why it does this. All the victims are drained of blood so maybe he pulls off their heads, sucks the blood out of their necks and then saves the heads like a bottle cap collection? Or perhaps he stores the heads until the brains ferment and then gets all tipsy on grey matter glog?

Anyway –

The monster gets a radical redo here. Early versions in my sketchbook look pretty much like the original creature in the movie. Different aspects of it would get accentuated or adjusted but they were pretty conservative renditions. None of them satisfied me.

Unlike The Thing, the Monster of Piedras Blancas isn’t a simple design. It’s a sea creature but it’s not a fish man. It’s not the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Certainly there are similarities but once you get past the amphibious humanoid aspects of the two they start to seem pretty different. For one thing, the Creature (from the Black Lagoon, henceforth simply referred to as the Creature) is designed for swimming. He’s got fins and webbed feet and hands. He’s got gills. The Monster (of Piedras Blancas, henceforth referred to simply as the Monster), while apparently aquatic by nature, isn’t designed to swim. It can’t. And if it can’t swim it also can’t walk around too well underwater. Part of the reason that there are no bipedal sea creatures is that bipedalism isn’t that effective underwater. If you’ve got to walk it helps if you’ve got multiple legs.

But all this was the result of the Monster’s costume being a patchwork affair – its hands were originally wielded by the Mole Men and its feet were formally on the gravity ends of the Metalunan Mutant’s legs (in the film This Island Earth). The head is original but resembles no sea creature that I can think of.

I really didn’t want to make the Monster more like the Creature. I don’t expect to do a version of the Creature in this series. I don’t know that there’s much I could do with the basic design that hasn’t already been done by many others. And the original design is still pretty spiffy today.

The idea for this design came to me when two concepts collided in my mind while I was having my morning coffee. The first concept was that the light house keeper in the movie thought of the Monster as a sort of family pet, a wild dog he was feeding. The second concept was a phrase describing the Monster that I’d read somewhere – a reviewer referred to it as a “sort of a lobster man”. And the basic visual popped into my head. If the Monster was a crustacean rather than a fish then suddenly there were a lot of alterations I could make that would make the Monster more unique rather than less. Now the Monster becomes a wolfmancrab.

A wolfmancrab who keeps souveniers. Yum.