If you have followed any documentary filmmakers in the last few years, you surely would have seen at least one of the independent films “exploring the lost and bizarre history” by the crew behind Small Town Monsters. A few of the well-known titles include: Minerva Monster, Invasion on Chestnut Ridge, and The Mothman of Point Pleasant. These documentaries unfold with well-researched content, well-framed depictions of the culture and context of the region and times, a through presentation of primary source data, a while weaving in visually stunning imagery and themes. Unknown Midwest’s very own, Andrew Peterson, was in touch with Small Town Monster’s, Seth Breedlove, and he gave our crew access to preview their newest documentary, The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear.

Seamlessly edited, and visually intriguing from the start, one is introduced to the small town of Flatwoods, West Virginia from the vantage point of folklore mixed with UFO conspiracy. The serene landscapes, sparsely populated scenes, and open-air shots make one breath deeply and relax into the tale. Interviews with local business owners and key eyewitnesses helps one to plant themselves into the center of the town, truly understand the story, and to understand how the “visit” shaped the town since the early 50’s. My favorite aspect, the crew masterfully intertwined comic book style juxtapositions and graphical transitions anchored by an interview in a local comic book store. 

Briefly, The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear, retells a yet to be solved encounter with an unknown monster and possible UFO that were seen in Braxton County during the early evening of 12 September 1952. Flatwoods is known as the Home of the Green Monster. The monster also has been referred to by several names: the Flatwoods Monster, the Monster of Braxton County, or The Flatwoods Phantom. 

Interviews with two eyewitnesses, who were teens at the time of the sighting, Ed and Fred May add core authenticity to the documentary. The boys’ mother, Kathleen May, and several other teens who witnessed the event had passed away, but had given testimonies and sketches to journalists and media over the years. Something I found interesting was that they all reported a pungent smell exuding from a fog or mist around the creature, and report that the dog who had run up ahead of the group died soon after having run deep into the fog. Sulfur was the first noxious odor and element that came to my mind.

Residents of neighboring towns report bright lights in the sky, objects seen flying in the sky, or glowing lights. The heavily forested town was the perfect place for an unknown object to be obscured and unrecognizable to the eye. Some say the monster was nothing more than an owl. Some describe it as a massive robot. Some say the lights in the sky were planes or meteors. The May family and those who trooped into the woods that night described seeing the lights rise up over the hill. They followed the lights into the forest and were confronted by a man-like shape, with glowing red eyes, and being nearly seven feet tall. They reported that it hissed and swooped over them and they turned and ran back down the hill.

Seth Breedlove and the Small Town Monsters crew brilliantly capture the personal account of the two May boys and other local residents, while also at outlining historical, military context, journalistic investigational report, and scientists’ investigations. Again, this team presents a well-framed and well-researched documentary! We at Unknown Midwest highly recommend adding, The Flatwoods Monster: Legacy of Fear to your home film collections. We anxiously await the next cinematic exploration by the Small Town Monsters crew!

Get your copy through the Small town Monsters website, smalltownmonsters.com

Andrew Peterson