DVD Review – Eyes of the Mothman

Title: Eyes of the Mothman
Genre: Documentary
Production Company: Virgil Films and Entertainment
Release Date: February 2011
Format: 2 DVD

So you saw the Richard Gere movie and think you know everything you need to know about the Mothman, right?


The Mothman Prophecies (2002) was a pretty good flick about a guy who loses his wife and ends up investigating the Mothman legend at Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Eyes of the Mothman, on the other hand, is a captivating docudrama with production values comparable to what we’d expect to see on A&E or the History Channel. Matthew J. Pellowski, who wrote, directed and produced the film, blends intelligence with artistry to give a first rate account of this bizarre urban legend.

Tom Becker at DVD Verdict said this film was too long and involved for its less than “civilization-changing” subject matter. But I disagree. Sure, I paused the DVD a few times. But isn’t that what the digital age is all about? Busy, multitasking folks rarely sit down for two and half hours to immerse themselves in just one activity. I don’t even read a book for that long. So I took my time with this DVD. And I’m glad I did.

After introducing the Mothman character and his alleged appearances in and around Point Pleasant from 1966-67, the film reenacts the story of the Shawnee Indian, Chief Cornstalk.

Apparently Cornstalk was a decent fellow who abided by a treaty he signed with the Whites in Ohio Country. But not only that. Cornstalk later felt compelled to make a special trip to Point Pleasant to warn the Whites of an impending Indian raid. Sadly, the local Whites were angry and resentful over longstanding skirmishes with the Indians. So they locked Cornstalk up (who was only trying to help) in a stockade and, before too long, murdered him after getting wind of some nearby Indian attacks—attacks that had nothing to do with Cornstalk.

Next, we learn about the so-called TNT area. This is a WW-II toxic chemical site that’s wreaked havoc on the wildlife and environment around Point Pleasant. It’s also a Saturday night hangout for resident teens looking for kicks, because the Mothman reportedly has been spotted there more than once.

The film actually tells of multiple sightings upward to about 100. And it features interviews with experts, scientists, and local newspaper staff, along with actual witnesses who say they saw the elusive Mothman. Among other things, we hear of the Mothman’s red, glowing eyes and humanoid body, sporting the wings of an angel or possibly a demon.

All of the interviews are edited in sync to create a seamlessly integrated narrative. But this DVD isn’t only about a bunch of talking heads. Its reenactments are equally strong, showing off some polished cinematography. In addition, mythic parallels to the Mothman story (like the Egyptian Horus and the Irish Banshee) are mentioned, which kindled my scholarly side.

A pragmatic explanation of the Mothman is given by an academic who says the sightings could have been nothing more than a large Sandhill Crane. Townspeople who allegedly saw the Mothman take this outsider’s account as insulting. As one eyewitness puts it, “I know what I saw” and (to paraphrase) even a child knows the difference between a crane and a scary monster.

The plot thickens…

Apparently a rash of UFO reports were filed around the same time as the Mothman sightings. We’re now introduced to the intriguing character (and possible extraterrestrial), Indrid Cold. Cold is a baffling entity who’s said to communicate telepathically while flashing a sardonic smile reminiscent of Peter Sellers’ Dr. Strangelove. And to top it off, those mysterious Men in Black, also given a dramatic twist by Hollywood, enter the tale.

DVD Verdict found this particular reenactment “silly,” but I liked it. Urban legend is partly about having some fun, usually spooky fun. And Eyes of the Mothman never gets too heavy or claims to have all the answers. It’s not pushing the paranormal as fact, but neither is it ignoring peculiar possibilities.

The film then looks at the Silver Bridge tragedy where 46 people died in December of 1967 when a rusty link cracked, causing a domino effect with the entire structure plummeting into the river below. The aftermath of that disaster is covered at length. And just when we’re wondering what this poignant tale has to do with the Mothman, we discover that he supposedly was seen on (or near) the bridge when it collapsed.

Some residents say the Mothman was warning of impending doom. Others, that he was behind the catastrophe. This unhappy ambiguity takes the story back to Chief Cornstalk, who, because of his unjust captivity and murder by the Whites, allegedly with his dying breath cursed the whole region.

This is urban legend to the extreme. But this film doesn’t shy away from folklore, which is also a part of history. The inclusion of mythic elements keeps this DVD from lapsing into dry documentary, where prosaic ideas and opinions are often misleadingly presented as facts.

To add to the mix, a physicist offers a quantum universe account of the Mothman, arguing that multiple dimensions could exist, possibly connecting through “pockets of dimensionality.” This might sound flaky to some but it’s a scientific hypothesis extrapolated from actual subatomic observations. And it’s an idea that resonates here because, when you get right down to it, our seemingly physical universe isn’t necessarily physical at all. It’s probably more like interactive moments of space-time, energy, mind, soul and spirit.

We then find out that, after the Silver Bridge fiasco, the sobering reality of countless local funerals eclipsed the hype that usually went along with the Mothman legend. The small town of Point Pleasant was in mourning. But the Mothman tradition didn’t go away. And to this day, believers and non-believers, alike, celebrate their unusual folkloric heritage at annual Mothman festivals.

Altogether, Eyes of the Mothman delivers a compelling sweep of history, legend and paranormal reports in the vicinity of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Bonus features include extended interviews, an apparent psychic who relates her on-site impressions, and a revealing peek behind the scenes.


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