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“The Mothman of Point Pleasant” (2017): Captivating Documentary Captures Odd Paranormal History of West Virginia Town

The independent filmmakers behind the Small Town Monsters documentary series have released the fourth offering in their catalog, an intriguing look at the 1966–1967 sightings of what is now one of America’s most famous cryptozoological legends. The Mothman of Point Pleasant takes a well-researched, wonderfully presented look at the incidents that surrounded Point Pleasant, West Virginia and nearby environs during that time, from sightings of UFOs and mysterious beings to the tragic 1967 Silver Bridge collapse, and how these events still affect the town today.

Writer/director Seth Breedlove focuses on oral history, news, and eyewitness accounts of the strange phenomena that have occurred in the area for at least 100 years, beginning with sightings of a mysterious birdman — a birdlike being with red feathers and the head of a man, said to have a wingspan of 12 feet — in the early 1900s, about 50 years before the famous Mothman sightings. Breedlove treats his interview subjects with respect and leaves the decisions about credibility to viewers. The Mothman of Point Pleasant avoids sensationalizing things with dramatic recreations; instead, Breedlove makes the most of archival audio and video recordings, newspaper photographs and articles, and animated presentations of past events.

Frightening memories of the Mothman live on in the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Those elements, alongside contemporary interviews with eyewitnesses and those who lived in the area during the times of the Silver Bridge collapse, make for an engaging film that also addresses the social and historical climates of Point Pleasant. As one interviewee relates, change the cars on the street from modern ones to 1960s models and the town hasn’t changed all that much since the days it made headlines for both fantastical and heartbreaking reasons.

Viewers will learn a great deal about the Point Pleasant of yesteryear, from the story of Chief Cornstalk, a Native American leader who was murdered by soldiers over a land dispute, to the November 1966 sighting that sent locals armed with rifles on the hunt for a terrifying unknown creature —  “It was like Jaws,” one long-time resident states in the film — and beyond. Other weird incidents and sightings near Point Pleasant are examined, such as Woodrow Derenberger’s encounter with an entity that called itself Indrid Cold from the planet Lanulo in the galaxy of Genemedes. This being would also come to be known as the Grinning Man.

Writer/director Seth Breedlove (with cap) and cinematographer Zac Palmisano are two members of the Small Town Monsters documentary-making team.

The story of the mysterious Mothman is still a part of Point Pleasant today, including a museum and annual festival. The museum owner, who is also the festival organizer, is interviewed throughout The Mothman of Point Pleasant and is only one of the many appealing subjects of the film, which has a running time of just under one hour.

Noted author of cryptozoological books Lyle Blackburn (The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster and Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster) does a brilliant job of narrating the film. Zac Palmisano’s cinematography marvelously captures the landscapes around Point Pleasant and the emotions of the interview subjects. Brandon Dalo’s score skillfully enhances the proceedings.

Small Town Monsters is a prolific company, having released three documentaries on American cryptids since 2016, with another new film, Invasion on Chestnut Ridge, focusing on UFO reports, scheduled for release in October. The Mothman of Point Pleasant is available on DVD, Amazon, and Vimeo, with an iTunes release planned soon. This film and the company’s three previous documentaries are available for purchase at smalltownmonsters.com.

(4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.
Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.
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