Monday, June 29, 2009

The Lizard-Man of Lee County

It was on this date twenty-one years ago that a local legend was born here in swamps of the Carolinas. The Lizard-Man of Lee County, South Carolina (a.k.a. the Lizard-Man of Scape Ore Swamp, a.k.a. the Bishopville Lizard-Man) was first sighted by teenager Chris Davis (1971-2009) on June 29th 1988 around 2:00 am. Davis claimed that the seven-foot-tall, green skinned and red-eyed creature came at him while he was changing a tire on the side of the road. After Davis’ initial sighting others began to pour in as detailed in the following video uploaded from ETVRoadShow via YouTube…

Well first things first, according to CNN the blood samples from the Rawsons’ car turned out to be that of domestic dog, not a Lizard-Man.

Also while “reptilian humanoids,” as they are called, can be found in various forms throughout world mythology I would like to take a moment to reflect on their enduring presence in both sci-fi and horror films and television, the most famous example undoubtedly being the Gillman from Universal Studios' three The Creature from the Black Lagoon films. In 1980 director Barbara Peeters updated the Creature premises in her sexploitation piece Humanoids from the Deep. The Gillman was also featured in 1987’s cult classic The Monster Squad. Then there was the popular sci-fi TV series V which ran from 1984 to 1985 and featured alien visitors who were reptilian in nature. In fact, all these reptilians in the 80s have to make one wonder if Chris Davis’ sighting wasn’t just a byproduct of popular culture. Even Davis’ famous sketch of the Lee County Lizard-Man with its cone-like head and three fingers seems to resemble a Sleestak, the lizard-men from TV’s Land of the Lost (1974-1976), perhaps just a little too much.


But whatever the origin, the legend of the Lizard-Man of Lee County lives on as a beloved southern urban legend which will certainly continue to be told for years to come.


1) Chris Davis’ original drawing of the ‘Lizard-Man.’
2) A more detailed rendering of the creature as seen in an Atlanta, Georgia newspaper.
3) A Sleestak from the original Land of the Lost TV series, note the cone shaped head.
4) Sleestaks, still with their cone shaped heads and three fingered claws, as seen in the new 2009 Land of the Lost movie.

For More on the Lizard-Man of Lee County:

Unexplained Mysteries of the 20th-Century (1989) by Janet and Colin Bord
Unexplained! (1999) by Jerome Clark
Mothman and other curious encounters (2002) by Loren Coleman
Monster Spotter's Guide to North America (2007) by Scott Francis
Weird Carolinas (2007) by Roger Manley

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mythology in Music: Clutch's "Release the Kraken"

Clutch is a four man American rock band which has been performing together since 1990. They have had eight CDs released with a ninth, Strange Cousins from the West, set to hit stores next month. Clutch is known for their unique sound which combines both hard rock and blues/funk influences. Their lyrics are also equally thought provoking and often contain references to history, mythology, science-fiction, and religion.

The song "Release the Kraken" off their 1999 album Jam Room draws its influence in part from the actual Greek myth of Perseus but mostly from the 1981 film Clash of the Titans, a loose retelling of the same story. Clash of the Titans was directed by Desmond Davis and featured special effects by Ray Harryhausen, who also produced the film.

Clash of the Titans’ biggest, and perhaps most iconic, addition to the myth of Perseus was that of the Kraken; a monster from Norse mythology, not Greek. It is also interesting to note that Harryhausen’s Kraken looks nothing like its mythological namesake but rather like a multi-limbed version of another one of Harryhausen’s monsters; the Ymir from 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957).

The following video was created by YouTube user sidewalkhawg and features "Release the Kraken" played to clips from Clash of the Titans.

The italicized words in found in the "Release the Kraken" lyrics were taken from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1995), page 819.

Sources: "Release the Kraken" lyrics found at

What's the matter brother, does the drought got you down?
(Open up the bomb shelter, sweep it on out)
Sing to the ocean in the afternoon haze,
Up the iron pillars, rise in the waves.
Andromeda is weeping. Inside one teardrop swims
Brave Useless in training less a millimeter thin.


Useless the Younger we pray for you.
You know we got your back in whatever you do.
Bathysphere bobbing in Eyeball Bay,
Black lash crashes, forty foot waves.
Cepheus is holding Cassiopeia's free hand
As the Kraken breaks the surface making bee-line to the land.

In Greek legend the son of Zeus and Danae
He and his mother was set adrift in a chest,
But rescued by the intervention of Zeus.
He was brought up by KING POLYDECTES,
Who, wishing to secure Danae, got rid of him by encouraging him
In the almost hopeless task of obtaining the head OF THE MEDUSA!
With the help of the gods he was successful, and with the head,
Which turned all that looked on it into stone, he rescued Andromeda
And later metamorphosed Polydectes and his guests to stone.