The Mothman Prophecies (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
"The Mothman Prophecies" is supposed to be based on a real-life incident. Do you know that campfire game where you whisper something in a circle to see how much it changes when it comes back to the originator? That's what happened with this story as it progressed from life to a book to a movie.
Here's what really happened.
For more than a year in the late 60's, terror and uncertainty gripped the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, as witnesses reported seeing a "big bird" that stood taller than a man with huge grey wings and glowing red eyes. It was first seen by about ten people in the area of the McClintick Wildlife Station, which had been a bird sanctuary for many years.
It was nicknamed the Mothman by the local press. Hundreds of people reported seeing the creature. During this time, there were some other reports of strange lights in the skies, and miscellaneous corollary events like a missing dog ninety miles away that was felt to be related (a man reported hearing, then seeing, the Mothman just before his dog disappeared).
Dr. Robert L. Smith, associate professor of wildlife biology in WVU’s division of forestry, told the sheriff that the "thing" was a migratory bird called the greater sandhill crane. Dr. Smith said the bird can stand five feet tall with a wingspread of seven feet, has gray plumage, has an eerie cry that can be heard for miles, and can fly at great speeds. A feature of its appearance is a bright red flesh area around each eye. In car lights, the bare skin around its eyes reflect as bright red circles. Dr. Smith warned that the crane, if cornered, may become a formidable antagonist. Its dagger-like bill is a dangerous weapon which it does not hesitate to use when at bay and fighting for its life, and these birds have severely injured many a hunting dog.
"The cry of the sandhill crane is a veritable voice of nature, untamed and unterrified," says one book on birds. "Its uncanny quality is like that of the loon, but is more pronounced because of the much greater volume of the crane’s voice. Its resonance is remarkable and its carrying power is increased by a distinct tremolo effect. Often for several minutes after the birds have vanished the unearthly sound drifts back to the listener, like a taunting trumpet from the underworld."
Nobody was ever injured by the Mothman in any way. In fact, nobody ever saw a dog attacked by the creature. The missing and wounded dogs were simply assumed to be related to Mothy.
More than a year after Mothman's first appearance, around 5:00 in the evening on December 15, 1967, the 700-foot bridge linking Point Pleasant to Ohio suddenly collapsed while filled with rush hour traffic. Dozens of vehicles plunged into the dark waters of the Ohio River and 46 people were killed. Two of those were never found and the other 44 are buried together in the town cemetery of Gallipolis, Ohio. That same night, one family reported strange lights in the sky above their home. People began to speculate that the Mothman was somehow responsible for the bridge’s collapse, but there was no reason to make such a connection. The Mothman disappeared about this time, and never returned.
Here are the actual related archives of the local paper. There were no reports of prophecies, communications from the dead, or any other type of similar paranormal phenomena.
Here's what the book was about.
About a month after the first sightings, John Keel got an assignment to go there. John was on a contract to write a book about UFOs.
As Keel began to talk to people and gather information, the journalist found himself getting more deeply involved in the events, to the extent that "There were entities that communicated with John by phone", one reporter declared. As Keel analyzed the events, he found Point Pleasant to be "a vortex of phenomena." Keel received constant predictions throughout the 13 months, presumably "channeled" by various contacts.
Although these "prophecies" were precise, none of them ever came true, except in the sense that any general type of prophecy may come true if worded correctly and interpreted liberally. If you say "an important man will die in June", for example, sooner of later a June will come along in which a prominent man will die.
I need to stress here that not only were the prophecies all inaccurate, but these types of mysterious paranormal communications happened only to John Keel, not to any locals or others who could corroborate them. He wrote a profitable book based on these claims. The locals only saw the Mothman and some lights in the sky, and reported some lost and mutilated dogs, as noted in the newspaper stories cited above.
I should probably also point out that, according to Keel, man has had a long history of interaction with supernatural beings. The intervention of mysterious strangers in the lives of historic personages like Thomas Jefferson and Malcolm X provides evidence of the continuing presence of the “gods of old”. The manifestation of these elder gods comes in the form of UFO’s and aliens, monsters, demons, angels, ghosts, possibly even Christopher Walken and several members of the Harmonicats.
Here's how the movie altered the
|And thus is our film based on real
incidents. If you consider the scientifically validated existence of
corroborated paranormal phenomena to be based on a migratory bird
Aside from that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs Lincoln?
|Well, although it has nothing to do with reality, the movie is OK. There is no reason to say that it is based on real incidents, other than that many people reported seeing the Mothman in the month before the bridge collapsed, and that one of the mysterious predictions said that something completely different would happen on the same night the bridge fell.|
But if you ignore that and just watch the movie, it is
a good extended Twilight Zone episode. The director does an excellent
job at maintaining the creepy, spooky atmosphere and the sense of
mystery. On the other hand, if you need a big finish, it doesn't have one. There is no
final surprise or last-minute payoff. When the bridge collapses, there
is only the usual unrealistic movie rescue in which humans stay under water
for weeks at a time without air, often performing heavy labor or
writing complete symphonies.
The ending doesn't deliver the knockout punch of The Others or The Sixth Sense, but in the developmental acts it is a comparable movie to those two. According to the Guardian, critics in the U.K. almost universally savaged it, but it received positive reviews from 53% of the reviewers who comprise the Rotten Tomatoes panel.
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