Friday, November 4, 2011

The Hellstrom Chronicle: BOW TO YOUR INSECT OVERLORDS!

Exognathous hexapods, or insects (class Insecta), are natures most successful animals. There are by far the most numerous of all animal classes, both in number of species and individuals.
Their success has been due to a myriad of adaptions that allow them to occupy every single terrestrial niche: highly variable mouthparts, protective exoskeleton, wings, complete metamorphosis, adaptive feet and  rapid reproduction. Insects are fungovores, detritovores, herbivores, carnivores and both ecto- and endoparasites. Some have several feeding strategies at different stages  their lifespan. In a way insects mastery of the earth makes them the ultimate life forms. Think your some hot shit as a human? Look to the insects...

Such is the premise of my favorite sci-fi/psuedodocumentary: 1971s The Hellstrom Chronicle.

Let me explain: this is basically your standard nature documentary like BBC's Life in the Undergrowth, but instead of David Attenborough we have the fictional Dr. Nils Hellstrom (played by Lawrence Pressman): a Lovecraftian prophet of man's doom at the hands of insects. Imagine old HP was asked to write the script for a Discovery Channel nature special on insects, and you have The Hellstrom Chronicle. Through the film he elaborates on insects adaption to their environment, claiming that they will inherit the earth from humans once we finally do ourselves in. Sometimes his narration will border philosophy, but its not so bad and I'm pretty sure Travis Ryan approves.


Coupled with the bleak narration the films has some incredible close photography of insects. Battle scenes, feeding, birth, pupating and mating are shown with brilliant detail (as much as youtube allows). Fortunately the entire film is on the youtube, enjoy:

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 , 8, 9, 10, 11

Best parts: ant (Formicidae) vs. termite (Isoptera) battle, retarded fake hidden camera footage, locusts swarming (locusts are actually the same as grasshoppers [Acrididae], the difference is in behavior and many locusts have solitary phases in addition to gregarious ones), insects mating to easy listening music, closeups of termite queens, beewolfs (Philanthus) killing bees (Anthophila) and driver ants (Dorylus) killing a chameleon (Chameleonidae).

Though some of the conclusions are pretty hokey, this film is very interesting and will give you a new perspective on things. Just take everything with a grain of salt. This is still a very fun and interesting film, worth many repeat views. 

This film had such an effect on writer Frank Herbert (of Dune fame) that he was inspired to  write Hellstrom's Hive after seeing it. Its about a secret government agency investigating Dr. Nils Hellstrom, gradually it is revealed that Hellstrom leads a group of humans who model their society after social insects... Great read, probably Herbert's best after the Dune series.

I tried to find a insect themed metal band and the best I could think of was Ash Borer. Named after Podosesia syringae, a clearwing moth that is a serious plant pest in the eastern US. There is also a beetle called the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), but if that's what they wanted to be named after they should have been more specific or used the scientific name. They play a typically Cascadian brand of melodic and doomy black metal.

"...lean the inevitable destiny of ignorance."

7 comments:

Shelby Cobras said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelby Cobras said...

Eventually, I'm going to sample the shit out of Hellstrom. Also, Ash Borer are (sort of) from me and Aegipan's home town.

Judge Shredd said...

Man this movie and Hellstrom's Hive blew my mind.

Would you describe your hometown as being in the Cascadian region? I know its NoCal but near the coast.

Shelby Cobras said...

Extremely Cascadian. Mountains, redwood trees, and meth as far as the eye can see...

Steven said...

From our insect-themed period:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1NGAWK_Tcw

Judge Shredd said...

Holy shit! Thats what I call a music video.

DoomUnicorn said...

Finally got around to digging through this post. Some truly bizarre shit.