Production company Small Town Monsters make a compelling case for local cryptids in their documentary series. With each film focusing on a different local legend – such as the Minerva Monster, the Beast of Whitehall, and the Mothman of Point Pleasant – writer/director Seth Breedlove shares his passion for the mysterious and spooky tales that haunt these small towns.
The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear tells the story of The Green Monster of Flatwoods, West Virginia, and how its cultural reach continues to grow.
The legacy begins on September 12, 1952 when a small group of local kids – brothers Edward and Fred May, and their friend Tommy Hyer – witnessed a bright object streaking across the sky before it came to rest over a neighboring farm. The brothers ran to tell their mother, Kathleen May, who joined them with three other local youths and the community dog (which is an amazing concept, if you ask me).
The group witnessed a large, pulsating “ball of fire” and reportedly discovered an otherworldly creature accompanied by a harsh and pungent mist. Frightened and panicked, they fled, and matriarch Kathleen May went to the local authorities to report their sighting.
The Flatwoods Monster appeared at a time that was surging with reported extraterrestrial sightings worldwide. Global and political events were making the world an increasingly fearful place, and the rise in unexplained activity brought a whole new tension to small communities. Rural areas seemed to be a hotspot for these bizarre events. West Virginia, for example, had another legendary encounter in 1966 with the Mothman.
The documentary uses a combination of bright, colorful filters and smooth aerial shots – like a rural Pleasantville – paired with campfire-creepy animation, Tim Burton-esque miniatures, and atmospheric recreations to tell the story.
The creative imagery used in The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear is particularly appealing – I found myself drawn in by the visual storytelling. They inspire memories of 1950s sci-fi films that capture the wonder and wild incomprehension of these shocking experiences.
Director Seth Breedlove’s interviews with the surviving witnesses probes their memories for the full story while presenting their reports in an impartial way.
He tells us the tale of the Flatwoods Monster – including the helpful historical context – but does so in a way that is both respectful of the sources and not invasive to the viewer’s personal opinion.
I have to mention the director of photography, Zac Palmisano, for his great work here. And a shout out to J.D. Riggs for the monster effects, Chris and Brandon Scalf for designing the animation (with stop motion animation by Santino Vitale), and Brandon Dalo for composing the score.
This documentary really highlights the spectacular creative team behind Small Town Monsters. Their work elevates their subjects and compliments the story in a fantastic way. For me, it was the film’s major selling point.
The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear is more of a short-subject documentary, clocking in at a cool 45 minutes. The official description is as follows:
“Unlock a decades-old mystery that included a government-ordered military examination of a purported alien crash-site, and multiple UFOs seen by countless residents of Braxton County, WV. In the years since their brush with the “Flatwoods Monster”, witnesses have seen their story evolve from a terrifying, true-life event to little more than a fable. Two of the remaining witnesses will set the record straight.”
Check out the trailer and the poster below. The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear lands on April 6 and is available to order through the Small Town Monsters website.