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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

OVER TO RICHARD FREEMAN FOR A BRIEF SEASONAL PLUG-OH

OCCASIONAL MONSTERS 2008 Donside Pictures
Directed by and written by Sam Addison and Michael Cox

The other day, quite out of the blue a DVD landed on the CFZ’s doormat.’ Occasional Monsters’ is a full length, and very low budget film about two inept monster hunters from darkest Aberdeen. I’ve always been quite a fan of films like this. As a lad I was a member of a film club and enjoyed watching hand made films that were sent in by viewers to programmes such as Screentest. Despite lack of funds, such films are unrestricted by studio pressures and can be a breath of fresh air after the painting by numbers junk Hollywood churns out.

Jon and I sat and watched Occasional Monsters and we both laughed like drains on account of both the humour and the fact we recognized real life analogues of all the characters.

The story revolves around an unseen film crew that are making a documentary about two monster hunters Wolfgang Markus (a huge gun wielding psychopath with a hatred of cats, no it’s not me, I don’t have a gun) and Duane Craig (bespectacled nerd). The pair’s nerve centre is a run down flat peppered with CFZ books and a world map of monster sightings. Imagine Blair Witch Project crossed with The League of Gentlemen and you will get an idea of what this film is all about.

At one point, acting on a tip off that a werewolf is lurking down by the river, the duo tranquillise a hairy, humanoid under a bridge and transport it back to the flat only to find out they have captured a tramp.

They also attempt to turn their hobby into a business by visiting a business seminar. The only other attendee is interested in manufacturing cardboard (he has some cardboard and can get more cardboard but he doesn’t know how to make cardboard). Our heroes start distributing badly-drawn leaflets offering their services as monster hunters and are eventually asked back to the house of the man who was running the business seminar. He claims to be a werewolf and after the guys ask for proof he brings out a dossier of his reign of terror clipped from local papers. These include things like ‘POLICE INVESTIGATE ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR’ and ‘LOCAL SCHOOL VANDALIZED’.

As it turns out, he really is a werewolf, and later when Wolfgang tries to sell his skeleton to the museum he gets into a heated debate with the curator about the existence or otherwise of matamata turtles.

Whilst investigating reports of a report of a panther from Duane’s girlfriend’s aunt Wolfgang wastes her pet cat with a heavy-duty machine gun.

The other hero of the story is the unbalanced van driver Ben who talks in inarticulate mumbles, has unexplained cadavers in the back of his van, claims to be a ‘specialist’ and is prone to fits of violent madness with hammers and pick-axes.

Some of this is frightengly close to stuff that has happened at the CFZ over the years!

Occasional Monsters shows what can be achieved on a tiny budget and restricted time (it is 83 minuets long but was filmed in one week). The film as the feel of a pilot for a series. I hope this comes to fruition because Wolfgang and Duane are such great characters and are funnier than anything in any new sitcom for years. These guys really need some airtime.

Occasional Monsters is available for £9 from Donside Picture’s website at http://www.donsidepictures.co.uk/shop.html Unmissable 10/10

2 comments:

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Merry Christmas to everyone at the CFZ.

I'm off to work now. Well someone has to look after you if you choke on a turkey bone or burn your hand on a hot mince pie! So give me a quiet shift... take care of yourselves!

Nick Redfern said...

Here's wishing Jon, Corinna, Rich and all at the CFZ a fun new year's eve/day, and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009!