Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 25th, 2012
Ten years ago, Mothman landed.
First, on January 1, 2002, Paraview Press published Mothman and Other Curious Encounters, in cooperation with Sony/Screen Gems, to give a new nonfiction insight into the real events behind the then forthcoming movie.
Eyewitness Linda Scarberry said the William Rebsamen-drawn depiction of the Mothman on the cover of my book was the one that looked the most like the Mothman she saw in 1966.
On January 14, 2002, a story rapidly circulated via the Internet communities that John A. Keel had just died. I, Loren Coleman, quickly put the rumor to rest by calling Keel, and confirming that Keel was, indeed, still alive, although Keel quipped that everyone should be told, “his funeral is on Saturday and he will be wearing black.” Keel noted that this happened to him at least once before, in 1967. (Keel would die on July 3, 2009, at the age of 79.)
January 23, 2002, saw the North America’s FX cable channel screening the documentary, Search for the Mothman.
Then on January 25, 2002, the film The Mothman Prophecies opened across America. The music soundtrack CD was released on the same date.
First eyewitnesses: Roger and Linda Scarberry (right) and Steve and Mary Mallette (left).
As the movie began screening on January 25, 2002, the half of the first four original witnesses, the Mallettes were attending a funeral in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Stephen Mallette, who was one of the first four, was mourning the passing of his brother, Charlie, due to a brain tumor. Charles Putnam “Charlie” Mallette, 43, of Point Pleasant, died on Thursday, January 22, 2002, at his home.
The last week in January 2002, during that same initial movie release time period, there were five fatalities in and near Point Pleasant, in two crashes involving four automobiles on January 26, and three other fatal wrecks in the next five days. For rural Mason County, the eight road deaths in six days was the most in 40 years, according to the State of West Virginia. In one major crash, two tractor-trailer rigs and a Volvo resulted in the death of truck driver Richard Clement, 61, of Mukwonga, Wisconsin.
The Mothman movie did result in a revitalized downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia, with an annual festival, many businesses selling souvenirs, one storefront turned into a museum, and a permanent landmark, a sculpture added to the main riverside square. The dying downtown has made a bit of a recovery thanks to the Mothman film.
Ten years later, Mothman lives on.