Lair of the Beasts: A Monster Hunter is Born (Mania.com)
Date: Thursday, June 09, 2011
Every now and again, as you may recall, I devote my weekly Lair of the Beasts column to revealing how, and under what specific – and sometimes very strange - circumstances, some of the world’s most well respected, and well known, seekers of strange beasts got started in this curious field of research.
And, this weekend, it’s the turn of Kent, England-based investigator and author Neil Arnold, the brains behind such acclaimed books as Monster!; The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Kent; The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: London; and Shadows in the Sky.
Of his unusual, alternative and exciting journey in search of the many and varied mystery animals of our world, Neil explains how he first became exposed to the beastly phenomenon that firmly comprises Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness Monster, sea-serpents, the Chupacabra and the rest of that monstrous motley crew:
“My interest in Cryptozoology began when I was around eight or nine. I didn't know what Cryptozoology was, but I was chilled one dark night in front of my parents’ TV after watching the U.S. low-budget docu-drama, The Legend of Boggy Creek, a Charles B. Pierce film concerning an alleged Bigfoot-type creature said to roam the bayous of Arkansas.”
And, as Neil notes, the movie left a deep and long lasting impression upon his amazed mind: “The way it was filmed and the creepy atmosphere and sincerity of the actors - most of whom who were actual witnesses - opened my eyes to what strange things could lurk in the wilds of the world.”
The young Neil Arnold was now on a definitive roll, as he explains:
“Around the same time I was given a book by a relative called A Dictionary of Monsters & Mysterious Beasts by Carey Miller. The book contained great illustrations of mythical monsters I'd seen in films, such as Clash Of The Titans, such as the minotaur, harpies etc, but I was intrigued by stories in the book concerning the Loch Ness Monster, the Yeti and lesser known creatures at the time such as the Nandi Bear.”
He continues further: “My dad and granddad were always telling ghost stories, especially when we visited eerie lakes on a summers’ evening for a spot of fishing. But they also told me about so-called ‘big cats’ on the loose. And I collected my first report as a nine-year old; as decades previous there'd been the legend of the ‘Surrey Puma’ and in the '80s the ‘Beast of Exmoor.’”
And, it was these British-based cases of out of place big cats that pushed Neil both onwards and upwards: “I wanted to investigate these stories, because I realized that while Bigfoot and the Yeti may have roamed lands out of my reach, there were mysterious creatures being seen on my doorstep. If it wasn't for my dad and granddad, I wouldn't have become a full-time monster hunter, author and lecturer pertaining to strange animals.”
Today, a couple of decades or so after he first watched – both enthralled and excited – The Legend of Boggy Creek, Neil Arnold has become a well regarded and immediately identifiable character within the field of Cryptozoology, and one noted for his research and studies in the field – and, of course, for his many books that I most definitely recommend to anyone and everyone with an interest in the controversial arena of monster hunting and creature seeking.
Nick Redfern is the author of many books on paranormal mysteries, including the newly published The Pyramids and the Pentagon (New Page Books, June 2012).