Thursday, September 30, 2010

Australian Big Cats: Reviewed

Neil Arnold - the author of Monster!; The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Kent; and Paranormal London, reviews the new book from Mike Williams and Rebecca Lang, Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers.

Over to Neil:

Written By Mike Williams & Rebecca Lang
Published by Strange Nation ISBN 978-0-646-53007-9

Only a handful of books have ever been written about what are known in the UK as ‘alien big cats’. This is a term I’ve always despised. Some of the books written have been informative little booklets, or like Marcus Matthew’s Big Cats Loose In Britain (CFZ Press 2007) they’ve existed as a superb guide to local legends and headlines through each county. Karl Shuker’s now hard to find Mystery Cats Of The World was also a pioneering book at the time but since then not enough books have emerged on the subject.

So, step forward Rebecca Lang and Mike Williams, who have decided to write a book on the mystery cats of their native Australia. I’m sure many people didn’t even realise that Australia has a similar situation to the UK with its legends of large, feline predators, mind you, there are many countries across the world which have been plagued by cat flaps, but these stories are yet to form a manuscript.

Of all the books I’ve read on the ‘big cat’ mystery, Australian Big Cats is without doubt the finest. Even the most hardened of sceptics will enjoy this truly monstrous - and I mean monstrous at over 400 pages - read. Packed with fascinating eye-witness reports and data, Rebecca and Mike have also littered their work with some impressive photographs not just of huge paw-prints, slaughtered livestock and old newspaper reports, but fascinating photographs of the secretive animals themselves.

After reading this detailed tome, which is nigh on exhaustive regarding the Australian situation, you’ll be more informed of the media sensationalism which gave birth to legends such as the ‘Beast of Buderim’, the ‘Broken Hill Lioness’, the ‘Canterbury cat’, the ‘Kaiapoi Tiger’, and of course the ‘Emmaville Panther’ which has become a media darling to rival our very own ‘beasts’ of Exmoor, Bodmin and the like in Britain.

However, these Australian dwellers are not the stuff of foggy folklore, and exist in some reasonably impressive photographs, and of course that ever elusive film footage which seems, rather hilariously, to drive most big cat ‘researchers’ mad in their quest for their own Holy Grail. Rebecca and Mike look at the facts, and debate whether Thylacoleo carnifex - a large marsupial cat - could still exist thousands of years after its alleged extinction.

They examine reports of large cats escaping into the Australian bush, some as rumour, some as fact, backed up with photographs. The book eliminates the suspects, sifts through the mounting evidence, and also proves, startlingly, that the scrublands and forests of Australia are also inhabited by truly gigantic feral cats, one of which had its head blown off by a hunter. These monster moggies are a mystery in a field of their own, but are clearly no match for the eye-witness reports which suggest that black leopard and puma hide in the woodlands.

Written without bias, Australian Big Cats despite its size (and weight!) is an engrossing read (I read it straight through in two days), and it comes highly recommended. As a full-time researcher myself, I take my hat off to Rebecca and Mike for giving us a unique glimpse into what lurks in the shadows Down Under.

With so many eye-witness reports and evidence piling up, I’m pretty sure their sequel may not have to include the word ‘unnatural’ in its title, because surely it’s only a matter of time before such animals are taken seriously. And it’s books such as this which go a long way to aiding us in our quest for the truth. Get your paws on a copy now. Rating: 9/10. Available from Neil Arnold, October 2010.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fortean Times Unconvention



Ever since 1994, the Fortean Times UnConvention has been the world’s foremost gathering devoted to unexplained phenomena. Two weirdness-packed days of talks, workshops, experiments, music, comedy and lively discussion…

UnCon brings together the best expert speakers from around the world in a weekend of non-stop weirdness.

Ranging far and wide across the world of strange phenomena - from conspiracy theory to cryptozoology, from magic to monsters, from religion to rocket science...

UnCon is back in 2010 and will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Rendlesham UFO encounter, going in search of the Blue Dogs of Texas and exploring the fortean themes of Doctor Who - not to mention enjoying bawdy ballads from the 17th century and investigating ghostly encounters of the sexual kind!

There will be fortean shopping opportunities galore with a wide range of dealers, full cafe facilities and (watch this space!) some surprise extra events!

This will be the most extraordinary weekend of the year!

When: Saturday 23rd Oct / Sunday 24th Oct 2010

Where: University of Westminster - 35 Marylebone
Road, London NW1 5LS
(Opposite Madam Tussauds, nearest tube Baker Street)

Tickets: Day Tickets - £30 / Weekend Tickets - £50
(Plus booking fee)

- Two continuous streams of talks
- Special panel discussion
- Live PSI experiments
- Dealer room and fortean stalls
- Full bar and café



Events Marketing Manager
Tom Townsend-Smith: 020 7907 6112 /

Events Project Manager
Jemma Ryan: 020 7907 6470 /

Realm of Monsters

I'm pleased to announce that from the September/October issue onwards, I'm writing a regular column - titled Realm of Monsters - for the newsstand publication, TAPS Paramagazine. The premier article - the new issue has just been published - is on encounters with mermaids in the British Isles. Rather like a certain ex-girlfriend of mine from the late-1980s, the British mermaids look hot, but are truly malevolent, monstrous entities that should be avoided at all costs!

Chupa Chasing

I got home in the early hours of this morning after spending the afternoon and night in the heart of rural Oklahoma; specifically in the little town of Tecumseh, where - a few months ago - a photograph was taken of what has become known as a "Texan Chupacabras."

Of course, the Texan critters - that appear to be spreading northwards, hence the reports now coming out of Oklahoma - have nothing to do with the legendary beasts that first surfaced out of Puerto Rico in the mid-1990s (as this post from me at shows).

Rather, the Texas/Oklahoma animals are hairless coyotes - DNA testing has proven this, and has also proven that there is evidence of wolf DNA present in some cases. But, unknown animals they are not. However, a number of witnesses have suggested that these beasts seem to demonstrate evidence of physical mutation - the most prevalent example being the claim that the animals have forelimbs that are far shorter than one would expect to find in "normal" coyotes. The result: they seem to hop around in Kangaroo-style.

Well, I have examined a couple of corpses of these critters and even possess the skull of one (which, to the dismay of my wife, Dana, stares forth eerily from a shelf in our living-room); however, I have not had the opportunity to examine a body that displays evidence of the shortened limbs. But, last night I was shown a photograph of the Tecumseh whatsit that does appear to show an animal - loping across the landscape - with extraordinarily short front limbs.

And so, it was the sightings of the creature that prompted Fox News to call and ask if I would be interested in taking part in a quest to find the beast - well, of course I would! And that's precisely what happened yesterday.

We didn't find the animal, but we did speak with the primary witness who took the photo, and we spent 3 or 4 hours roaming around the surrounding fields and woodland, and secured photographs and film-footage of some interesting paw-prints.

As well as appearing on Oklahoma's Fox News station shortly, the feature will also appear online; and so when it does, I'll post the link here, where you'll be able to judge the photograph for yourself.

It would have been highly appropriate, while negotiating the darkened roads post-witching-hour, for me to have seen the infamous entity crossing the road in front of my car - sadly, it was not be! At least, not yet...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Four-Teans Blog

Last year, I reviewed a small, and highly entertaining book written by Colin Stott titled Four-Teans go to Ness, which told the story of a trip that Colin and three of his mates made to monster-hunting central, Loch Ness. Very much a road-trip-style book, it skilfully captured the flavor of the adventure and made for fun reading (here's the link to my review of Colin's book).

And now, the Four-Teans have their very own blog where you can follow their escapades of the monstrous kind.

Goat-Man: A Reminder

As a quick reminder: this Saturday at Lake Worth, Texas, myself and good friend Ken Gerhard (who co-wrote Monsters of Texas with me) will be lecturing at the annual Lake Worth Monster Bash that celebrates the weird series of encounters with his Royal Goatiness that manifested around the lake back in the summer of 1969, and that is still occasionally seen to this day.

Here's the link for all the data (click on the Monster Bash section for more information). Last year's gig was good fun, with vendors, a band, and much more. Even my wife, Dana - who is hardly a fan of cryptozoology, LOL - had a good time!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is This The Flatwoods Monster?

There can be few very people within the realms of cryptozoology and ufology that have never heard of the so-called Flatwoods Monster, or Braxton County Monster, of 1952 - a story that is told in-depth in Frank Feschino's 2004 book, The Braxton County Monster: the Cover-Up of the Flatwoods Monster Revealed.

And as Feschino notes in his book: "On the night of September 12, 1952, a shocked American public sought answers when strange unidentified objects were seen flying through the sky over Washington, DC, and the eastern United States..."

He continued: "One of the strange objects crash-landed on a rural hilltop in Flatwoods, West Virginia..." Feschino also noted that a group of schoolboys were witness to the descent of the device and, with two adults, "...headed off to look for the object. Soon a twelve-foot tall being from the downed craft terrified these innocent people."

So, what was the monstrous entity? A cryptid? An alien? Some form of definitively Fortean beast? Or something else? Over the years, a whole range of theories have surfaced, and, as with so many such cases, the debate continues.

Indeed, check out this link and you'll see that over at UFOMystic, good friend Greg Bishop has dug deep into this puzzle, and has addressed another angle - namely that relative to the involvement of Remotely-Piloted Vehicles of a definitively terrestrial nature.

And, on this latter point of the Machiavellian hand of officialdom possibly playing a role in the Flatwoods affair, I stumbled across something the other day that makes me wonder if it may well have some bearing on what was seen at Flatwoods.

Call me crazy (and doubtless some will!), but I think the following data - which is directly relative to the use of superstitions and paranormal entities and ideas in warfare - may well have a bearing on the diabolical beast of Flatwoods.

A couple of days ago, I obtained a copy of an April 14, 1950 RAND publication titled The Exploitation of Superstitions for Purposes of Psychological Warfare, written by Jean M. Hungerford, for the the U.S. Air Force.

The 37-page document is a truly fascinating one and delves into some very strange areas. But, what really caught my eye, was a section of the document that quoted from a book titled Magic: Top Secret, which was written in 1949 by one Jasper Maskelyne, a fascinating character (as the name-link demonstrates) who was up his absolute neck in new and novel ways to fool the enemy.

Hungerford quotes the following from Maskelyne in her report, which concerns a truly alternative psychological warfare operation that occurred during the Second World War, and less than a decade before the Flatwoods Monster was seen:

"Our men...were able to use illusions of an amusing nature in the Italian mountains, especially when operating in small groups as advance patrols scouting out the way for our general moves forward. In one area, in particular, they used a device which was little more than a gigantic scarecrow, about twelve feet high, and able to stagger forward under its own power and emit frightful flashes and bangs. This thing scared several Italian Sicilian villages appearing in the dawn thumping its deafening way down their streets with great electric blue sparks jumping from it; and the inhabitants, who were mostly illiterate peasants, simply took to their heels for the next village, swearing that the Devil was marching ahead of the invading English."

Hungerford continued to quote from Maskelyne's book in her report: "Like all tales spread among uneducated folk (and helped, no doubt, by our agents), this story assumed almost unimaginable proportions. Villages on the route of our advance began to refuse sullenly to help the retreating Germans, and to take sabotage against them; and then, instead of waiting for our troops to arrive with food and congratulations of their help, the poor people fled, thus congesting the roads along which German motorized transport was struggling to retire. The German tankmen sometimes cut through the refugees and this inflamed feeling still more, and what began almost as a joke was soon a sharp weapon in our hands which punished the Germans severely, if indirectly, for several critical weeks."

There are a number of issues worth noting here. First, the height of the Flatwoods Monster and the British Army's devilish scarecrow were the same: 12-feet. In addition, the cover of Frank Feschino's book shows the Flatwoods Monster emitting lights. And the 12-foot scarecrow in Italy gave off "frightful flashes and bangs" and had "great electric blue sparks jumping from it."

Second, the RAND report that specifically refers to this Italian escapade - that Jasper Maskelyne described in his Magic: Top Secret book - was prepared for psychological warfare planners in the U.S. Air Force. And, in his book on the beast of Flatwoods, Feschino notes that the Air Force took careful interest in the Flatwoods affair and what was being reported on the affair by the media.

The RAND report was submitted to the Air Force in April 1950, and Flatwoods occurred in September 1952. Is it possible that in this two-year period USAF psychological warfare planners created their very own - albeit updated and modified - version of the British Army's 12-foot-tall flashing monster to try and gauge what its reaction might be when unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace?

There's also the settings, too: the British Army's operation was focused on little, isolated villages in Italy. And Flatwoods is a little, rural town in Braxton County, West Virginia that, even as late as 2000, had a population of less than 350.

Those who suspect the the Flatwoods Monster was some form of cryptozoological creature, Fortean entity, or alien being, may well scoff at my speculations and musings.

However, when we can say for sure that the British Army was using 12-foot, illuminated scarecrow-style critters for psychological warfare reasons in the Second World War, is it really a stretch to think that the USAF might have tried something similar in 1952 with their very own 12-foot-tall freak?

One final thing: the foreword to Frank Feschino's book was penned by acclaimed ufologist, Stanton T. Friedman, who wrote the book Top Secret Majic (with a "j"). This should not be confused with Jasper Maskelyne's Magic Top Secret (with a "g)!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bigfoot Sex & Me...

No, don't worry, I'm not about to make some terrible confession of the human-animal kind!! Rather, the new issue of Penthouse magazine includes a 4-page article from me on what might be termed sex of the Fortean variety, which includes a section (and a new interview with Loren Coleman) on the sex-life of Bigfoot. You can find out more on this at a new post that Loren has posted to Cryptomundo.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mythology of the Corvid Kind

Kithra has an excellent new post at her website on Corvid mythology. Check it out!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Monstrous Bestiary

Over at my Reviews blog, you can find a new review from me of Christopher Dell's just-published book, Monsters: A Bestiary of Devils, Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Magical Creatures. For the absolute wealth of fantastic artwork alone that accompanies this book, it's well worth buying! Here's the review.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cameron Lake Sturgeon?

From The Anomalist today:

Mammoth Fish (Not Ogopogo) Could Be Living in B. C. Lake Beyond Robson.
The president of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club claims a sonar scan of Cameron Lake on Vancouver Island produced two large "hits" Tuesday morning. John Kirk speculates the images were generated by a sturgeon released into the lake by some fisherman.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bigfoot Quest Tonight

From Bob and Mike at Bigfoot Quest:

Hello Friends:

Please join your hosts Bob Coyne and Mike Killen as we welcome Florida researcher Tim Fasano to the show. Tim is fairly new to the field of Bigfoot research. He first got involved in March 2009 after listening to a radio interview of Autumn Williams talking about the subject of Bigfoot and of wood knocking. Since becoming active in field research, he has recorded howls as well as wood knocking sounds and he's also found a number of different sized footprints. Tim likes to work alone and conducts his solo research expeditions in the deepest parts of the Florida swamps. If you can, please join us in our live show chat. It's always a lot of fun and we love to interact live with our listeners.


When: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Time: 9:00 P.M. Eastern

Bob Coyne
Mike Killen

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chupacabras 1 and 2

As you'll know for a decade and a half, stories have come out of Puerto Rico of the Chupacabras, and in the last couple of years the story of the so-called "Texas Chupacabras" has surfaced too.

Well, I'm being asked more and more on radio and TV shows, how has the Chupacabras migrated from Puerto Rico to Texas? The answer is that it hasn't! Despite many people assuming these are the same creatures, they're not at all.

Rather, it's just the term "Chupacabras" that has been applied to both beasts by the media, for the most part.

And here's my take on it all at my Lair of the Beasts column at

Friday, September 10, 2010

Balloons & Bigfoot

The Anomalist reveals the details of a novel development in the search for Bigfoot:

"Close Encounter Prompts Lifelong Search The Union. A move is afoot to put a duble-fuselaged dirigible into the sky over areas believed to be Bigfoot hotspots. William Allen Barnes is the brains behind the project, following up on a search begun after he had his own 'North American ape/hominoid' encounter in the summer of 1997 while camping in Gass Valley, Nevada County, CA. In fact, Barnes and two other Bigfoot researchers, Jason Valenti and William Dranginis, will include northern California in their research itinerary, along with "Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Virginia, Eastern Tennessee around the Smoky Mountains and Florida." The trio will proceed by camper with all kinds of high-tech equipment to connect to the blimp while it's in the air. Will thermal imaging, sound recordings and 'carbon dioxide recognition' really cause Bigfoot non-believers to change their tune?"

Hexham Horrors

Over at Phantoms & Monsters, Lon Strickler delves deep into the truly creepy saga of the Hexham Heads - and much more of a weird and wolfish nature too!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monsters in Print

Yesterday afternoon, I received review-copies of two new books: Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside by Brad Steiger; and Christopher Dell's Monsters: A Bestiary of Devils, Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Magical Creatures.

Both books look to be very different, but fascinating too! I'll be reviewing both just as soon as I have read them, so keep a look out for the reviews sometime next week.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Giants of the Hairy Kind

Over at, my latest Lair of the Beasts column is a review of a new book from David Hatcher Childress: Yetis, Sasquatch and Hairy Giants, which is packed with accounts of all-things monstrous and Bigfoot-like - and from all across the world too. Here's the link for those of you who may want to get a copy of the book.

The Devil Comes to Smethwick

Dr. Kark Shuker relates the weird account of Old Ned's Devil - a strange tale in which I perform a minor role, and that is very similar to the equally strange tale of the notorious "British Bigfoot" known as the Man-Monkey of England's Shropshire Union Canal.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Possum Saga Continues!

Well, last night, the trap was again sprung in the back-garden of my mother-in-law, Alex, and Possum Number II was caught! And here it is!

Chupacabras News

Ben Radford has a good, solid new post on that most famous of all Puerto Rican mystery animals: the Chupacabras.

Big Cat News

As today's edition of The Anomalist notes, Big Cats are big news right now:

"...the continuing reports of large out-of-place cats wandering the countryside of the British Isles have brought forth Scottish encounters revealed in Black Panther Back on the Prowl and Police Issue Warning After Highland Big Cat Sightings. Meanwhile, big cats in the United States are making the news, too, as Loren Coleman explains, with photos, in Servals in NY and Ohio ~ Perhaps Montana?"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mother-In-Law Invaded By Beast!

For most of the past week, the back-garden of my mother-in-law, Alex, has been invaded each night by a mysterious beast! Was it Bigfoot, the Texas Chupacabras, or a shape-shifting werewolf? No: it turned out to be a possum! And here's the critter itself, finally captured after several nights of trying to lure it into the cage with the aid of a plentiful amount of peanut-butter!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On The Track 36

The new edition of the CFZ's online monthly publication, On The Track, is now available, and as always, is as entertaining as it is informative!

A Gig of the Goat-Man Kind

On Saturday October 2, me and Ken Gerhard will be speaking about our Monsters of Texas book at the now-annual "Lake Worth Monster Bash" at Lake Worth, Texas, which celebrates the legend of the town's notorious Goat-Man that terrorized the area in the late-1960s, and which is still seen today, albeit very occasionally.

If you're going to be in the area and want to come along, a good time will be guaranteed. Last year's gig was a very successful one, and this year's should be too.

Here's the link to all the data you'll need on the "Bash" and everything that will be going on.