Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is already considered to be his magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

Dr Karl Shuker's Official Website - http://www.karlshuker.com/index.htm

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my ShukerNature blog's articles (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my published books (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my Eclectarium blog's articles (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my Starsteeds blog's poetry and other lyrical writings (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

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Sunday, 16 February 2020

'BORDER' – A MINI-REVIEW OF A MAJOR MOVIE INSPIRED BY SCANDINAVIAN MYTHOLOGY AND CRYPTOZOOLOGY


Publicity poster for Border, featuring Eva Melander as Tina (© Ali Abbasi/John Ajvide Lindqvist/META Film/Black Spark Film & TV/Karnfilm/TriArt Film – reproduced here on a strictly non-commercial Fair Use basis for educational and review purposes only)

Last night, I watched a very strange Scandinavian fantasy movie, made in Sweden, but it was strange for all the right reasons. Entitled 'Border', it was directed by Ali Abbasi, produced by META Film/Black Spark Film & TV/Karnfilm, and released by TriArt Film in 2018. I'd wanted to see it for ages, but it only received limited cinema release here in the UK despite being an Academy Award nominee. Happily, however, I recently managed to purchase it on DVD.

Based upon an original short story entitled 'Gräns', written by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote this movie version's screenplay, 'Border' tells the story of a shy Swedish customs/border guard named Tina, whose decidedly homely physical appearance belied her remarkable gift for quite literally sniffing out human emotions, enabling her to detect by olfactory means if a person was feeling guilt, shame, anxiety, or other normally concealed traits. Needless to say, this unusual talent proved very useful in identifying incoming visitors to Sweden who were smuggling contraband or worse.

Always ill at ease with other people, Tina was only truly at peace when alone in the forest, among Nature - until an equally strange and homely-looking man named Vore appeared on the scene, and to whom she was instantly attracted, especially when she discovered that just like her, he bore a mysterious scar at the base of his spine, as if something had been surgically removed, something like a tail...? Those readers of this mini-review who are au fait with Scandinavian mythology and/or manbeast-related cryptozoology will no doubt have already guessed where this plot is going. Suffice it to say that Tina finally learns the shocking truth that although they are humanoid, she and Vore are not human. But more shocks are to come, especially in relation both to a very disturbing investigation that she is involved in as part of her work, and also to her origin.

See the present ShukerNature article's Postscript to read the story of this delightful 'Border'-relevant entity (© Dr Karl Shuker)

This movie at times makes for very dark, bleak, desolate, and quite merciless but also very compelling viewing, its otherworldliness holding my interest and attention at all times, although the penultimate scene, when Tina finally visits the past that had been hidden from her throughout her life is truly heartrending. Having read a great deal on the subject of the entities that Tina and Vore are, I have to say that I strongly suspect that this movie's makers took great liberties when it came to depicting certain aspects relating to their, shall we say, procreative anatomy and behaviour, but perhaps I am simply ill-informed here (if I am, I hope that my Scandinavian friends and colleagues will educate me accordingly!).

Ideally, 'Border' could have benefited from being dubbed into English, but its English subtitles more than adequately sufficed, especially as the acting prowess of its two leading stars (Eva Melander as Tina, Eero Milonoff as Vore) was of such quiet (and occasionally not so quiet) intensity that very often words were not required, their visual strength was more than sufficient to tell the audience all that it needed to know. All in all, 'Border' is quite simply unlike any movie that I have ever seen before, truly bewitching, often disturbing, and ineffably sad, a very unexpected example of humanity's inhumanity to those who are different, for whatever reason. As for anyone who hasn't seen this movie but would like to know the true nature of Tina and Vore, let's just say that those who enjoy insulting, demeaning, and arguing with others on social media provide a major clue, albeit in name only - think about it...

Finally, please click here to view a trailer for 'Border' that is currently accessible on YouTube.

Another publicity poster for Border, featuring Eva Melander as Tina and Eero Milonoff as Vore (© Ali Abbasi/John Ajvide Lindqvist/META Film/Black Spark Film & TV/Karnfilm/TriArt Film – reproduced here on a strictly non-commercial Fair Use basis for educational and review purposes only)


POSTSCRIPT – CONTAINS 'BORDER' SPOILERS!!
If you don't want to discover what Tina and Vore were in 'Borders', read no further!

About 13 years ago, I was walking round a local car boot sale at the end, while all of the sellers were packing away their unsold wares, ready to go home, when, lying amidst a pile of unsold items discarded by various sellers, and staring up at me disconsolately, was the delightful plush-furred, tufted-tailed, Scandinavian troll pictured in the two photographs included above and below by me in this present ShukerNature article.

I knew full well that, just like all discarded items there, his fate was to be loaded onto a lorry by one of the car boot sale's litter pickers and then tipped onto a fire and burnt. Needless to say, therefore, without further ado I picked him up, and found that he was perfectly clean and intact, but unwanted by his owner and unchosen by any of the buyers at the sale. So I duly took him back home with me. Ever since my rescuing him from his destined fiery fate, he has sat very happily upon a pile of postcards and CDs in my study, surveying his surroundings and clearly very content to be here, just as I am to have been able to save him and add him to my eclectic menagerie.

Don't you just love a happy ending!!

Rescued from a fiery fate! (© Dr Karl Shuker)



Friday, 24 January 2020

MORE PHOTOGRAPHS OF MOTTY - THE ELEPHANT OF SURPRISE AS NEVER BEFORE SEEN


Motty with his mother Sheba at Chester Zoo in 1978 (© Dave Haynes)

On 1 March 2011, I uploaded here on ShukerNature an expanded version of an article of mine that had previously been published by the British monthly magazine Fortean Times. It's not very often that an animal can truly be described as unique, but the subject of that article really was. Named Motty and born at Chester Zoo, England, on 11 July 1978, he was the world's one and only confirmed hybrid of an African elephant and an Asian elephant. And as these species are housed in separate genera, Motty was not only an interspecific hybrid, he was also an intergeneric one. In fact, prior to his highly unexpected birth, it was not thought possible that an offspring resulting from a mating between an African and an Asian elephant could even occur – but Motty's arrival proved everyone wrong.


Tragically, however, this very surprising little newcomer died only 11 days after being born, and in spite of his extraordinary identity Motty was all but forgotten for many years thereafter – until, that is, my article (the most detailed account of Motty ever published) restored him very deservedly to public attention and piqued the interest of entirely new generations of readers. Moreover, as a result of my article's level of popularity, various readers sent to me extra information concerning Motty and also several additional photographs of him, none of which had previously been made public, as well as some remarkable visual reconstructions of what he may have looked like had he survived into maturity, all of which I duly posted in a couple of follow-up ShukerNature articles (click here and here to view them).


Now, I am delighted to say that after perusing those articles of mine, a further reader contacted me on 16 and 17 January 2020 to share with me (and also, very kindly, to permit me to share here with you) some more Motty photographs, again previously unseen and therefore making their public debut here. The reader in question is Dave Haynes, who was a keeper at Chester Zoo during Motty's all-too-brief life, and who not only recalled seeing him but also snapped some photos of him with his Asian elephant mother, Sheba. So here, by kind permission of Dave, are his photographs, offering new and very precious visual insights into the little miracle that was Motty.

Motty and Sheba with keepers Ray Packwood (left) and Paul (© Dave Haynes)

All five photographs here are reproduced courtesy of their owner and copyright holder, Dave Haynes – thank you so much, Dave!