A to Z: J is for Jermlaine

J is for Jermlaine!

Jermlaine are little evil bastards, that, as far as I know, first appeared in Gygax’s ‘D1’ adventure, “Descent into the Depths of the Earth.” At least that is where they first came to my attention. Unfortunately, they never got the play time they probably deserved. They are tiny, evil little things… maybe about a foot tall. They live in caves and passages and wait for clueless adventures to come trudging along. When the idiotic big folk stumble into a Jermlaine ambush, they find the tiny creatures are sabotaging their gear, stealing their stuff, tripping them with cords, setting their hair on fire, etc. There is something fun and brilliant about attacking players with tiny, sneaky nasty little creatures that will always employ hit and run and sabotage. The ‘jermlaine’ always reminded me of the monsters from a 1973 television movie called “Don’t be afraid of the Dark.” I saw that movie when I was a kid… and it scared the bejeezus out of me… the “Jermlaine” in the movie are tiny, evil, pointy-headed people who live in the walls and enjoy tormenting the woman who inherits the house where the Jermlaine live. I think they even killed someone and were always setting traps and then disappearing whenever anyone other than the woman they were torturing came around so they all thought she was going crazy. Since it was made in 1973, they didn’t have CGI to do the special effects, so, if I remember right, they would shoot actors in evil ‘Jermalaine’ costumes with giant props (like huge scissors that the Jermlaine might use as a weapon) and then cut that in with the regular sized actors interacting with the normal size props. Both the ‘jermlaine’ and the actors who portrayed the humans seldom appeared in the same shot together; they had to tell more of the story through cutting and implied relationships through editing. I don’t think the little creatures in the film were ever given a name, so ‘Jermlaine’ is probably Gygax’s invention, but I feel certain the inspiration for the creature (right down to the pointy head) was borrowed from the TV film. I found the trailer for the original film on You Tube:

Guillermo (sp?) Del Toro is remaking “Don’t be afraid of the Dark.” Normally I have a reflexive hatred of remakes, but I love Del Toro’s work so I’ll try to keep an open mind and look forward to it:


5 Comments on “A to Z: J is for Jermlaine”

  1. That's two posts about the same movie today. Dreams in the Lich House says it's the inspiration for the Meenlock, you say the Jermlaine. I love it when a film does double duty.

  2. Beedo says:

    Haha – just found your place based on the post over at D&D with Porn Stars – you have excellent taste in Monsters. And Movies!

  3. I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Medieval Madness Award.
    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

  4. Roger the GS says:

    I'm of the Meenlock camp. Although … why not both?

  5. I had always thought they were the little rat men from Eyes of the Overworld, but you could be right. After reading R.J.Kuntz's posts about the actual origins of much of the OD&D stuff, I wouldn't be surprised.


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