SITA: Mothman

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SITA: Mothman

The Silver Bridge was an eyebar-chain suspension bridge built in 1928 and named for the color of its aluminum paint.  The bridge connected Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio, over the Ohio River.

On December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge collapsed while it was full of rush-hour traffic, resulting in the deaths of 46 people.  Two of the victims were never found.  Investigation of the wreckage pointed to the cause of the collapse being the failure of a single eyebar1 in a suspension chain, due to a small defect 0.1 inch (2.5 mm) deep.  Analysis showed that the bridge was carrying much heavier loads than it had originally been designed for and was poorly maintained.  At the time of the bridge construction, a typical family automobile was the Ford Model T, with a weight of about 1,500 lb (680 kg).  The maximum permitted truck gross weight was about 20,000 lb (9,072 kg).  By contrast, at the time of the collapse, a typical family automobile weighed about 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) and the large truck limit was 60,000 lb (27,216 kg) or more.  Bumper-to-bumper traffic jams on the bridge were also much more common, occurring several times a day, five days each week, thus causing more stress to the bridge elements.  The collapsed bridge was replaced by the Silver Memorial Bridge, which was completed in 1969.

On November 12, 1966, five men who were digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, WV claimed to see a man-like figure fly low from the trees over their heads.  This is often attributed as the first known sighting of what would become known as the Mothman.  Shortly thereafter, on November 15, 1966, two young couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry, and Steve and Mary Mallette told police they saw a large white creature whose eyes "glowed red" when the car headlights picked it up.  They described it as a " large flying man with ten-foot wings following their car while they were driving in an area outside of town known as 'the TNT area', the site of a former World War II munitions plant.

During the next few days, other people reported similar sightings.  Two volunteer firemen who sighted it said it was a "large bird with red eyes".  Mason County Sheriff  George Johnson commented that he believed the sightings were due to an unusually large heron he termed a "shitepoke".  Contractor Newell Partridge told Johnson that when he aimed a flashlight at a creature in a nearby field its eyes glowed "like bicycle reflectors", and blamed buzzing noises from his television set and the disappearance of his German Shepherd dog on the creature.  Wildlife biologist Dr. Robert L. Smith at West Virginia University told reporters that descriptions and sightings all fit the Sandhill Crane2, a large American crane almost as high as a man with a seven foot wingspan featuring circles of reddish coloring around the eyes, and that the bird may have wandered out of its migration route.

There were no Mothman reports in the immediate aftermath of the December 15, 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge and the death of 46 people, giving rise to legends that the Mothman sightings and the bridge collapse were connected. Folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand notes that Mothman has been widely covered in the popular press, some claiming sightings connected with UFOs, and others claiming that a military storage site was Mothman's "home".  Brunvand notes that recounting of the 1966-67 Mothman reports usually state that at least 100 people saw Mothman with many more "afraid to report their sightings" but observed that written sources for such stories consisted of children's books or sensationalized or undocumented accounts that fail to quote identifiable persons.  Brunvand found elements in common among many Mothman reports and much older folk tales, suggesting that something real may have triggered the scares and became woven with existing folklore.  He also records anecdotal tales of Mothman supposedly attacking the roofs of parked cars inhabited by teenagers.


The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

  • Genre: Drama – Horror – Mystery
  • Directed: Mark Pellington
  • Produced:
    • Jason Free 
    • Gary W. Goldstein 
    • Adrienne Gruben 
    • Richard Hatem 
    • Rachel Hudgins 
    • Gary Lucchesi 
    • Terry McKay 
    • James McQuaide 
    • Tom Rosenberg 
    • Ted Tannebaum 
    • Richard S. Wright
  • Written:
    • John A. Keel (Novel) 
    • Richard Hatem (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Richard Gere, David Eigenberg, Bob Tracey, Ron Emanuel, Debra Messing, Tom Stoviak, Yvonne Erickson, Scott Nunnally, Harris Mackenzie, Will Patton, Lucinda Jenney, Laura Linney
  • Music: tomandandy
  • Cinematography: Fred Murphy
  • Editing: Brian Berdan
  • Studio: Lakeshore Entertainment
  • Distributed:
    • Sony Pictures Entertainment  
    • Screen Gems  
    • Columbia TriStar Home Video  
    • Sony Pictures Releasing
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 25 January 2002
  • Running Time: 119 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

The Mothman Prophecies is a 2002 psychological thriller film directed by Mark Pellington, based on the 1975 book of the same name by parapsychologist and Fortean3 author John Keel.  The screenplay was written by Richard Hatem.  The film stars Richard Gere as John Klein, a reporter who researches the legend of the Mothman.

The film claims to be based on actual events that occurred between November 1966 and December 1967 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.  Critical reviews were mixed, but the film was a modest financial success.

When John Klein, a Washington Post journalist, and his wife Mary finally find the house of their dreams, they just can't believe their luck.  On the way back from the bargain, Mary nearly runs over a caped, winged figure, jerks the wheel and skids into the sidewalk.  She hits her head badly, and dies in the hospital a little later.  John, completely devastated, soon finds some sketches his wife made after the accident.  They all show a winged creature, yet there is no angel resemblance at all.  Two years later, John all of a sudden finds himself one night in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.  He has no idea how he has journeyed the 400 miles in less than two hours.  In the small town, local cop Connie struggles with many sightings of a moth like creature taller than a man being reported, while John believes that an explanation for his wife's fate can be found.  The deeper John digs, the clearer the Mothman's purpose arises - only to leave his life in immediate danger, as it seems.

Bell Witch Haunting (2004)

  • Genre: Drama – History – Horror
  • Directed: Ric White
  • Produced:
    • Linda Thornton 
    • Ric White
  • Written: Ric White
  • Starring: Doug Moore, Stephanie Love, Amber Bland, Hope Wade, Daniel Cooper, Jason Jones, Haley Lovell, Asa Wiggins, Ric White, Frank Fox, Betty Ann Britton, Tom Dolan
  • Music: Billy Stallings
  • Cinematography: John Gerhart
  • Editing: Glenn White
  • Studio: Willing Hearts Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Direct Source  
    • Shoreline Entertainment
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 27 March 2004
  • Running Time: 124 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

The Bell Witch Haunting is a 2004 supernatural horror, written and directed by Ric White.  The movie stars Doug Moore, Stephanie Love, Amber Bland and Ric White.  It premiered in Nashville, Tennessee on March 27, 2004 and showed in theaters in a limited released in the southeast areas of the United States.  It was released on DVD on February 25, 2006.

The film is based on the book The Authenticated History of the Bell Witch by M.V. Ingram, a newspaper reporter, concerning the Bell Witch legend.  It was shot in less than a month with most of the filming taking place at several locations in Sumner County,Tennessee, including the historic Rock Castle in Hendersonville, Tennessee and the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

"The Bell Witch Haunting" is a powerful supernatural historic thriller based on terrifying actual events that took place in Robertson County, Tennessee from 1817 to 1821, in which a spirit tormented John Bell and his family, leaving him in a terrifying fight against the vengeful ghost to save his children and his own life.  The haunting is the only known case where a spirit actually took credit for killing someone.  After visiting the Bells home, Andrew Jackson said, "I vow I would rather fight the entire British Army single handed then face this witch again."


Mothman (2010)

  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Sheldon Wilson
  • Produced:
    • Justin Bursch 
    • Mike Callaghan 
    • Brad Krevoy 
    • Reuben Liber 
    • John Portnoy 
    • Nick Thurlow 
    • Todd Williams
  • Written:
    • Sonny Lee 
    • Patrick Walsh
  • Starring: Jewel Staite, Connor Fox, Susie Abromeit, Michael Aills, Matty Ferraro, Jerry Leggio, T.W. Leshner, Jessica Erin Sylvia
  • Music: Steve London
  • Cinematography: John P. Tarver
  • Editing: Marie Lou Gingras
  • Studio: Upload Films
  • Distributed: Syfy
  • Rated: TV14
  • Release Date: 24 April 2010
  • Running Time: 91 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Mothman is a 2010 Syfy television film starring Jewel Staite and Connor Fox.  The film premiered on Syfy April 24, 2010 and was released on DVD on October 25, 2011.  The film features the song "Fuel" by Surfact in the end credits and on the DVD menu.

In Point Pleasant, land of the legend The Mothman, a group of seven teenage friends accidentally kills the boy Jamie (Alex Hardee) in a prank by the river and they decide to cover up the incident.  Ten years later, the journalist of the Washington Weekly Katharine Grant, who was one of the seven teenagers, is assigned by her editor to return to her hometown to prepare a matter about the 10th Mothman Festival.  She meets with the other six friends that have stayed in the town and sooner they are murdered one by one by The Mothman.  Katherine and her former boyfriend Derek seek help with old blind man Frank Waverly that has been luring The Mothman for many years trying to save their lives from the punishment of the entity.


 1.  In structural engineering and construction, an eyebar is a straight bar, usually of metal, with a hole ("eye") at each end for fixing to other components.  Eyebars are used in structures such as bridges, in settings in which only tension, and never compression, is applied.

2.  The Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) is a species of large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia.  The common name of this bird references habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska's Sandhills on the American Plains.  This is the most important stopover area for the nominotypical subspecies, the Lesser Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis canadensis), with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually.

3.  Charles Hoy Fort (August 6, 1874 – May 3, 1932) was an American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena.  Today, the terms Fortean and Forteana are used to characterize various such phenomena.  Fort's books sold well and are still in print today.

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