copyright 2008 by Gary L. Pullman
Tentacles are creepy. They’re not arms, not exactly--not as we think of arms, anyway--but they’re like no other limbs, either--and they’re equipped with suckers! They have a longer reach than the law, too. And they writhe. Anything that writhes is creepy.
They can create suction. They can grip. They can wind and entwine.
Although some women might suppose we’re talking about their last blind date, tentacles belong mostly to the denizens of the deep. That’s how strange they are.
Most land animals have refused to evolve them--and, no, an elephant’s trunk doesn‘t count. It doesn‘t even have suckers.
Octopi have eight of the damned things! Eight! That’s not just wasteful; that’s ludicrous. What in the hell could an organism want with eight tentacles? Eight tentacles do not encourage trust. The other organisms, besides octopi, that are equipped with tentacles are just as strange and repugnant, if not more so: cuttlefish, for example--there’s nothing cuddly about them--or krakens.
Tentacles are big in Asian horror, especially the comic strip variety, such as that of Manga and anime, in which these snake-like appendages are, quite frankly, phallic substitutes. These comics’ stories center upon rape--and, well, yes, an element of bestiality. In these comics, the rapists are not men--or not men per se--but monsters. Therefore, their assaults against female victims are supposed--by the comics’ publishers, if no one else--to be politically and socially acceptable, if scientifically dubious.
Since monsters equipped with tentacles are mostly maritime, they tend to threaten ships at sea, but, on a few occasions, they come near enough to the shore to menace bathing beauties. Occasionally, on the way in, they might take out a bridge or two, just to impress the ladies and to show that they aren’t monsters with which to be trifled. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the plot of such movies. They revolve around the question as to whether a ship or a submarine or a bridge or a bathing beauty or two can survive the attack of a sea monster with tentacles. (Usually, no, they can’t.)
Now, a movie in which the beast with the tentacles could lose some of its appendages only to have the severed or ripped loose tentacle itself become another beast with tentacles--that would be worth watching.