I’ve not seen Guillermo del Toro’s film The Shape of Water yet, but it appears to be an intriguing take on the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ archetype that lies behind the genre of Paranormal Romance. With its love affair between human woman and fabulous aquatic being it also, of course, resonates with the myths and legends of mermaids, mermen, and selkies that we have explored previously, here and elsewhere.
Carli Velocci, in ‘Why We’re So Obsessed with Sexy Monsters‘, reviews the film and explores the appeal of the monstrous lover. Emily Temple, in her appealingly-titled ‘Hot Sex with Sea Monsters: A Comparative Study‘, also reviews the film, comparing it to Rachel Ingalls’s novel Mrs Caliban (which depicts another love affair with an aquatic monster).
On the female side, mermaids have always held an erotic charge, but their glamour is frequently dangerous. Brenda S G Walter’s article, ‘Dark Mermaids Take Everything Men Fear and Use It Against Them‘, shows how some recent mermaid films, such as The Lure (2015), She Creature (2001), and Mamula (2014), emphasise this destructive aspect through the horror genre and in a contemporary feminist context.
There is some very well researched background on merpeople on this post at The Thinker’s Garden about The Mermaid Isles Project. The Mermaid Isles Project itself
seeks to fish out these scaly creatures and, figuratively, trigger their resurgence in the British Isles. Put more precisely, its chief researcher Professor Sarah Peverley seeks to chart and illustrate the unique role that mermaids have played in Britain’s iconographic and literary history from the Middle Ages to the sixteenth century.
The Thinker’s Garden is a fascinating site in its own right; its curators say:
We are friends of the Rational, and yet we readily indulge in the raptures of the imaginative spirit. Naturally, our inspiration for the Garden’s temenos of friendship comes from Epicurus, but we also love Plotinus and the Renaissance Platonists, as well as the Transcendentalists and Romantics. We are also drawn to the peculiarities of the Theosophists and hermeticists of the nineteenth century.
I’ve added links to both The Mermaid Isles Project and The Thinker’s Garden to the Related Links on our Blog and Resources pages.