12 Oct

Based On A True Story: The Mothman Prophecies

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday October 12, 2011 | Based On A True Story

The Mothman PropheciesReporting The Amityville Horror to you as if it were a true story was a bit of a stretch for me. This is probably why I’m so downright harsh on it in my capsule review. The entire thing was a hoax perpetrated by an author who should have known better and a desperate couple who needed money but The Mothman Prophecies is a different story. What if you write a book under the pretense that it’s nonfiction and you believe every word of it? What if your source material is so fucking far out there, father out than evil pig spirit haunts Long Island home? It takes a special kind of passion and a particularly potent brand of crazy to tread those waters, my friends. I’m a huge conspiracy enthusiast and my all-time favorite theory is one called The Montauk Project, which is a sort of kitchen sink conspiracy theory that ties in absolutely everything you could and has some many brilliant and strange ways of explaining away the inconsistencies that no matter how crazy it actually is – and believe you me, that shit is fucking nuts! – the people who subscribe to it as the truth have an escape hatch to keep their delusion going. Montauk is an awful lot like Mothman. John Keel’s book lays out some seriously nuts philosophy and there’s just no way you can dispute it with pure logic. Sure, absolutely everything about it is a question mark and not one lick of it makes any sense, but this seamless lunacy is what keeps it in the paranormal/conspiracy cultural consciousness.

I don’t really remember The Mothman Prophecies as a movie. I remember seeing it when it came out with my wife and I remember actually walking out of the theater feeling like it was money well spent but I honestly have no impression of it and that’s kind of a bad thing for a movie. I write glowing reviews and I write scathing bad reviews of movies but there is nothing worse than a movie that leaves me with nothing to think about it. I’d heard of Mothman, of course. I was a huge fan of the X-Files and that show would be nothing without the stunning madness of pioneering conquistador of weird, John Keel. In the movie, Richard Gere plays the stand in for Keel, a journalist whose wife veers off the road one night to avoid something that came at them that she was at a loss to explain. After she dies from an inoperable brain tumor, Klein heads back to the scene to investigate the circumstances surrounding the crash and its relation to a series of strange drawings she did before her death. He winds up in a Twin Peaks sort of town full of weird motherfuckers, taunted over the phone by a menacing dude named Indrid Cold and everything involving the Mothman seems to be leading up to some kind of tragedy.

I did Mothman last year during the 31 Ghost Stories blogathon and that entry was actually related to the actual Mothman encounters in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the 60’s where a number of people were said to have been terrorized by a humanoid man with wings and incadescent red bug-eyes. A lot of terrified people reported seeing this thing and then his last appearance coincided with the collapse a bridge that killed an awful lot of people. Paranormal author, John Keel, who is responsible for a lot of modern UFOlogy’s craziest shit, hit the town in the days leading up to the bridge collapse to investigate sightings of this Mothman and that’s when his already strange existence became even stranger.

John KeelKeel originally showed up in Point Pleasant on contract to write a book about UFOs, a subject he’d already had a healthy helping of in the past. The original Mothman sightings prior to the bridge collapse were met with ridicule in the press when these things were reported but Point Pleasant not being a very big community started seeing the Mothman in greater numbers. The media may have laughed it off but an awful lot of people along the Ohio River took it pretty seriously.  You could chalk it up to mass hysteria, I guess, but Keel’s account of his time spent there paints a chilling picture of a nutty community that starts to talk about other, unrelated phenomena. There was a wave of animal mutilations, primarily dogs, strange craft were seen flying in the area and many people around Point Pleasant reported receiving visits from the strange and menacing Men In Black – who have nothing in common with the Tommy Lee Jones/Will Smith movie.

Men In Black are a favorite topic of mine. Do you keep up with Fringe? The Observers are based on these mythological characters who tend to show up around UFO sightings and depending on who you talk to, they either play an intimidation game to discourage you from talking about your encounter or they simply show up, act completely fucking weird and then disappear leaving only an extreme feeling of tension and terror since there’s no explanation for any of it. In the case of Mothman, the Men In Black were spotted all over Point Pleasant in the days leading up to the bridge collapse.

Indrid ColdWe’re not done yet, though! Enter Indrid Cold. Cold’s actual identity is a complete mystery. Depending on who is telling the story, Cold is some manifestation of The Mothman, a time traveler, an alien or a Man In Black. Where other Men In Black involved in Mothman was absolutely petrifying in their presentation and often times described as crazy or robotic, Cold was nothing of the sort. Everyone who encountered him often describe him as ‘The Grinning Man’ and his presentation was friendly. In Keel’s case, Cold delivered numerous prophecies to Keel which were alleged to come true. With the exception of his final prophecy, that when President Johnson lit the christmas tree lights at The White House, an enormous blackout would hit the East Coast. Keel, completely fooled by these creepy phone calls, prepared for the worst and then the blackout never came, but the bridge in Point Pleasant fell, killing 46 people, several of whom were Mothman witnesses. To boot, Indrid Cold’s name gets dropped an awful lot in Forteana taking place in West Virginia and elsewhere and like most good Fortean stories, it’s a tale of circlar madness and not much of it makes any sense but it’ll drive you nuts when you begin to obsessively research it. Fans of Philip K. Dick take note. Srsly.

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