Mothman Legacy

Contributed illustration

BLUEFIELD — A familiar West Virginia urban legend gets a closer look than ever, through the lens of the original settlers of Appalachia in the new film, “The Mothman Legacy.”

In Appalachian folklore, the Mothman is a creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area from November 15, 1966, to December 15, 1967.

This is not the first time Seth Breedlove, Director of “The Mothman Legacy,” has done extensive research into an urban legend. In fact, he owns a production company called “Small Town Monsters” that is dedicated to making movies about folklore and urban legends around the United States. Breedlove has directed 10 films and three miniseries.

“What got me into film, my mom showed me a Ray Harryhausen movie when I was a kid and that was the first time that I became aware that there was a process involved in making movies and that movies were put together by human beings rather than appearing on a screen magically. I just got really into film as a kid,” Breedlove said. “When I was 18 years old, I met a guy named Zack Palmisano and we both wanted to go to film school. He ended up going to film school and now he is my director of photography in movies. The crew is full of people that I grew up with, which is cool.”

Furthermore, this is not the first time that Breedlove has directed a film about the Mothman.

“In 2017, we made ‘The Mothman of Point Pleasant,’ movie and that was entirely about the 1966 to 1967 wave of sightings, the collapse of the Silver Bridge, and its impact on Point Pleasant. For me, that was the Mothman story, it had a very specific beginning, middle and end, following this three act structure and that was it,” Breedlove said. “So, I thought I was done, but I started having more and more people approaching us with stories about more recent sightings. I continued to balk at the idea, but what drew me to do another movie was this idea of exploring West Virginia and Appalachian history, specifically the Scots-Irish immigrants who settled West Virginia and Appalachia and how their folklore may have played a role in the Mothman story.”

Breedlove said that his new film takes a magnifying glass to mythological creatures that are harbingers of doom.

“The Scots-Irish both have this creature, The Banshee in their lore. The Banshee is typically depicted as a woman who wails, proceeds tragedy, a harbinger of doom and the creature has red eyes,” Breedlove said. “Just in the Scots-Irish oral tradition that would have settled that area, they have a creature that sounds really similar in a lot of the big ways to the Mothman.”

While Breedlove is from Bolivar, Ohio, he said that he has fallen for The Mountain State and its rich history.

“We made the movie for West Virginians. In the last couple of years, I have really fallen in love with that state, especially the state’s history and the cultural heritage of the region,” Breedlove said. “To get into the folklore of the Scots-Irish and even the Native Americans, their lore, you are looking at creatures, stories and fables that bear more than a passing resemblance to the creature that we know now as the Mothman.”

“The Mothman Legacy” is split into different eras of sightings of the Mothman. It starts in the 1960s and covers new eyewitness accounts dating all the way to 2019.

“There are all sorts of sightings more recently, most of them take place from cars, people in their cars seeing something flying. A lot of sightings are just red eyes where they don’t see anything but these red eyes in the night,” Breedlove said. “If people are just looking for Mothman stories that they haven’t heard before the movie have eight eyewitnesses and of those eight, I am only aware of one that has been on camera before. These are new eyewitness stories.”

In his second Mothman film Breedlove breaks out of the 1966 to 1967 sightings to explore theories. He said this film examines the folklore connected to the Mothman, but also gives a much broader look at West Virginia History and the Mothman’s place in that history.

“The movie is getting fairly positive reviews, but the few negative reviews are from people who were looking for me to convince them that Mothman is real and their takeaway was that I didn’t have enough evidence and frankly, I have never cared if Mothman is real or not,” Breedlove said. “Honestly, with the stuff we look into, it is completely irrelevant if it is real. We are exploring the culture that grows up around these stories, we are exploring the ways the stories can change and evolve with time and become something entirely different from what they started as. We are exploring the way that stories impact a generation of people. At the end of the day, the factual reality of the Mothman does not matter to me, that is not the story that I am interested in.”

“The Mothman Legacy” premiered on most streaming platforms on Oct. 20, 2020. DVDs and Blu-Ray are available through Breedlove’s production company’s website at SmallTownMonsters.com.

“I think people from W.Va. should bring their own history into the movie and have fun with exploring a side of the state’s history that really connects in so many ways to the cultural heritage of people from that state,” Breedlove said.

— Contact Emily Rice at erice@bdtonline.com

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