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#MOTHMAN vs. Hollywood

The legend of Mothman began with a fistful of encounters. Three women, Linda Scarberry, Marcella Bennett, and Connie Jo Carpenter, each required medical attention following their traumatic, and individual, experiences. Why add insult to injury by “explaining” severe events using insufficient or erroneous information? Pro or con, no definitive answers exist.

The Inverse Law of Mothman states that “Truth decreases as the audience increases.”

Regional newspapers entertained our first audience when they toyed with “Mothmania” for that week (November 16-22) in 1966. These articles were a mix of journalism and stinging ridicule. Mothman was more mockery than mystery. 

John Keel created the second audience by writing “Mothman Monster” in Saga magazine (1968), Strange Creatures from Time and Space (1970), and The 
Mothman Prophecies (1975). Here was flawed folklore in the making. Keel gave his Mothman demonic, self-luminous eyes in SCFTAS. Whenever Keel’s writings are compared side by side with eyewitness testimony and independent sources, too much of his information seems exaggerated or erroneous.It did not matter. If his The Mothman Prophecies were ever made into a movie, Mothman would only have a “walk-on and fly away” part.

Then it happened.

The third audience exploded into being and Mothman became a household name and global phenomenon. Released by Lakeshore Entertainment on January 25, 2002, The Mothman Prophecies starred Richard Gere and Laura Linney. Republished by Tor Books, John Keel's The Mothman Prophecies made The New York Times Bestseller List. 

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” 

This feature film got almost everything completely wrong! Although the tagline for the movie was “Based on true events," which implied that the motion picture was suggested by actual incidents that happened in Point Pleasant, West Virginia between November 1966 and December 1967, what eventually appeared on the silver screen had no relation to reality. It was almost as if Hollywood scribbled tiny bits from Keel's book and added their wildest fiction on index cards, shuffled them, and laid them out like so many tarot cards to create a screenplay.


Movie-goers, thirsty for more information relative to the plot of the film, scooped up copies of Keel's book. Much to their bewildered dismay, Keel’s book and Lakeshore’s movie were completely different tales. Their anger is verified in furious reviews left on Amazon and Goodreads, et cetera.

Mothman was never a harbinger of doom. This was a complete fiction to enhance the storyline of the movie. In Keel’s book, Indrid Cold was a telepathic UFOnaut from the planet Lanulos who befriended Woodrow Derenberger and even took “Woody” on a trip to his home planet. Derenberger then wrote Visitors From Lanulos (1971). What started as flawed folklore evolved into “weapons-grade balonium.”


Mothman now has a statue and annual festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Every year on the third weekend in September, thousands of people flood the streets to celebrate.

The Internet is today's Mothman audience… and it shows.

To paraphrase English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge…

"Mothman, Mothman, everywhere / But no one stops to think."

The True Story of Mothman


Robert A. Goerman

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