Monster of the Week: Cthulhu


Cthulhu rises in "Necronomicon: Book of the Dead" Image courtesy Bart Mixon

There's a lot of misinformation out there about Cthulhu.

While most commentators tend to focus on the "dead god" aspects of this remarkable creature, only director Christophe Gans and creature effects wizard Bart Mixon have chosen to focus on the purely biological aspects of this tentacled leviathan.

(Image courtesy Bart Mixon)

As revealed in the 1993 Lovecraft anthology film "Necronomicon: Book of the Dead," hoary Cthulhu employs an ingenuously deceptive means of capturing human prey. It sends up a long tentacle with a specialized tip disguised as a nude, human female.

This pesudo-sapien lure, pictured above right, even speaks and makes sexual advances toward its prey -- the perfect means of snaring lonely sailors and melancholy brooders.

Natural World Analogs

While Cthulhu's lady-tentacle is certainly more animate than anything in nature, there are organisms in the natural world known to flaunt a bit of bate as well. For starters, consider the spider-tailed horned viper, which wiggles its bizarre tail to lure in spider-hungry birds. Let's see it in action:

And then there's the alligator snapping turtle and the pseudo-annelid lure on its tongue. The wiggling, worm-shaped bit of flesh draws fish into the turtle's jaws, and then that's all she wrote.

But even these superstars of aggressive mimicry have nothing on the tentacled one. Let's see the dark one in action:

Monster of the Week is a - you guessed it - regular look at the denizens is of our monster-haunted world. In some of these, we'll look at the possible science behind a creature of myth, movie or legend.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.