Kraken

The kraken is the best mythical creature, not just because its name can be so easily used to make bad puns, but because it is the one that comes closest to actually existing in the real world. Here is a chart to prove this point.

The kraken is real, it knows where you live, and it knows how you will die (because it's going to kill you).

Just The Facts

  1. Kraken are legendary sea monsters originating in Scandinavian mythology. They were believed to lurk in the waters off the coasts of Norway and Iceland.
  2. The myth of the kraken was most likely inspired by real-life encounters with giant squid.
  3. Greeting a giant squid with the phrase "Hey, buddy, what's kraken?" is a capital offense in Norway and is punishable by death, even though they abolished the death penalty in 1902. That's how strongly they feel about it.

Origins of the Myth

Architeuthis dux, otherwise known as the giant squid, is almost as badass as the monster it inspired. Giant squid can grow to be as long as a school bus, and they come equipped with:

  • Eight arms and two longer tentacles (squid arms have suckers all the way down, while tentacles only have suckers near the end, because scientists love overcomplicating things)
  • A razor sharp beak (because lips are for pussies)
  • Some of the largest eyes in the animal kingdom (all the better to see your fear with, my dear)

They are also aggressive as hell. You've probably seen this picture before:

That's from 2004, when a team of Japanese scientists captured the first ever images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat by setting up a bait line and taking over 500 photos of a squid that attacked the line and snagged one of its tentacles. What you may not know is that the giant squid fought so hard to get free that it actually ripped off its own goddamn tentacle. When was the last time you ripped off one of your own arms to escape a trap? Even Aron Ralston had to use a dull pocket knife.

One more thing: the giant squid's only known natural predator is the sperm whale. That's right, the only thing that can take on a giant squid is Moby fucking Dick. Is it any wonder the giant squid inspired such an awesome monster as the kraken?

Pronunciation

Depending on who you talk to, the word "kraken" is either pronounced "crack-en," with a short A, or "cray-ken," with a long A. So far, all movies that have featured a kraken have preferred the former. However, this is really a moot point. The only thing you really need to worry about when saying "kraken" is making sure you have the proper degree of awe and reverence in your voice. This handy chart should help you pronounce "kraken" correctly:

Notables Appearances

"The Kraken," by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1830)

Alfred Tennyson was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom for much of Queen Victoria's reign, which means he was kind of a big deal. He is perhaps best known for his poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade," a poem about the titular (tee hee) cavalry brigade's ill-fated charge against the enemy during the Battle of Balaclava. That's a shame, because he should really be known for his poem "The Kraken," which is about a goddamn sea monster, and is thus by default the most badass thing he ever wrote. But don't take my word for it, compare them for yourself:

The Kraken

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

A bunch of English soldiers charged at the Russians.
It didn't go so well.

(Disclaimer: I may have paraphrased "Charge of the Light Brigade" a little bit.)

Tennyson really should have just inserted a kraken into every poem he wrote for the rest of his career because, let's face it, any poem will instantly become more awesome if there's a kraken involved.

Quoth the Raven, "HOLY FUCK IT'S A KRAKEN!"

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)

Okay, this might not technically be a kraken, but it's pretty close. In this classic sci-fi movie, a gigantic octopus rises up from the depths and starts attacking ships because it can't get food any other way. You see, hydrogen bomb testing near the octopus's natural habitat has made it radioactive, and this is making it impossible for the octopus to sneak up on its prey. This was, of course, back when people still didn't really know what the hell nuclear radiation actually does to living creatures.

Well, eating this uranium will either kill us, or give us super powers. There's only one way to find out, so go get the A-1 sauce.

The highlight of the movie comes when the octopus surfaces in the San Francisco Bay and rips down part of the Golden Gate Bridge, presumably because it knew its nemesis Mega Shark would do the same thing 54 years later, and it wanted first dibs on bragging rights.

Clash of the Titans (1981/2010)

Ah, here we go. This time, the story actually has a mythological theme, and the giant sea monster is actually called "the kraken." And the movie doesn't waste any time in showing it, either. We're barely nine minutes into the movie when Zeus, played by the legendary Laurence Olivier, gets angered by some humans and orders Poseidon to release the kraken upon them. Rumors that Poseidon was originally supposed to be played by former Monty Python member Michael Palin are so far unconfirmed.

Vewy weww, I shaww wewease the kwaken!

And so, we finally get our first glimpse of the legendary sea monster in its first "official" screen appearance. And now, without further ado:

Oh. Huh. Well, that doesn't look like a squid, at all. In fact, it looks kind of like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

At the end of the movie, the kraken appears once again, this time to claim Perseus's lady love Andromeda, who has been chained to a rock at the edge of the sea as a sacrifice. The kraken almost kills Andromeda, but Perseus arrives in the nick of time and uses the head of Medusa to turn it to stone, proving that the kraken is not quite as invincible as everyone thought. Or, as David Caruso might say:

It looks like his defenses...had a kraken them.

The 2010 remake follows basically the same storyline as the 1981 original. Andromeda's parents have once again angered the gods with their foolish hubris, and the gods have once again decreed that their city will be destroyed unless Andromeda is offered as a sacrifice to the kraken. This time, however, the monster looks a bit more like the accepted image of a kraken, by which I mean it has tentacles. It still has the upper torso of some kind of fish or lizard man, but that torso has a bunch of huge tentacles trailing off of it. It's kind of like how Ursula in The Little Mermaid had a human torso, with tentacles instead of legs.

Poor unfortunate SOOUUULLLSSS!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

At long last, we finally have a true, honest to goodness kraken. It looks like a squid, it's actually called a kraken, and it can destroy ships like nobody's business. This kraken even has a mystical element to it, because it is commanded by the immortal sea captain Davy Jones. It also has a mouth like the Sarlacc.

"Howdy, Jack. The name's Phil. Phil McKrak--"

"Don't you fucking dare."

The kraken features prominently in the trailer for Dead Man's Chest, and is a major driving force for the plot, as it is Jack's desire to not be eaten by the monster that motivates him to search for the titular chest (*snicker*) so that he can coerce Davy Jones into calling the beast off. In addition, two of the movie's major action scenes revolve around the kraken attacking a ship. And with a little help from Elizabeth, the kraken succeeds in doing something that no other character in the series is able to do: it fucking kills Jack Sparrow.

The kraken is both an awesome monster and a pivotal part of Dead Man's Chest. It is hard to imagine what the movie would have been like without it. Such an impressive creature deserves an equally impressive demise, and so it is only fitting that the kraken is unceremoniously killed offscreen in between the second and third movies and left to rot on a beach.

Wait, no, not "fitting." What's the word? Oh, right. "Bullshit."

Leftover Puns

Here are some more puns that I wanted to use, but couldn't work in:

- "Well, I guess we'd better get kraken."

- "The joke was so funny, I was kraken up."

[Okay, that's enough of that. --CRACKED editorial staff]

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Don't you mean KRAKED editor--

[No. No, we do not.]