Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mothman Vs. Mothra

Late last night I watched, for the first time in years, the Japanese "monster movie" Mothra.

And, on doing so, a few things occurred to me that suggested uncanny parallels between Japan's famous, flying, mothy monster and John Keel's acclaimed title, The Mothman Prophecies:

1. Mothra was released in Japan on July 30, 1961. Although Mothman is perceived as being very much a beast of the mid-1960s, John Keel's book tells of a summer 1961 encounter with a winged humanoid on Route 2 along the Ohio River that involved "a woman prominent in civic affairs in Point Pleasant, West Virginia."

2. In the movie, Mothra - after breaking through a dam - causes the collapse of a bridge. And no-one with a sound knowledge of the Mothman affair, surely, needs to be told that a collapsing bridge is a key and integral part of The Mothman Prophecies.

3. The film focuses on Mothra rescuing and acting as protector to a pair of foot-tall, fairy-like girls who are played in the movie by The Peanuts, a Japanese girl-group of that era. John Keel's classic book includes several notable references to fairies, including the way in which centuries-old encounters with such entities clearly parallel more modern day incidents with enigmatic creatures of a fantastic nature.

Fiction anticipating fact? The strange work of a cosmic trickster? Or just a case of coincidence and me seeing something significant that isn't quite so significant, after all?

Whatever the answers to those questions, in pondering on all this, I am reminded of the words of author Colin Bennett, who told me, when I interviewed him for my book, The Real Men in Black: "When we imagine, we create a form of life.”

Is that what happened here? Did a famous monster movie provoke such fascination that a real-life equivalent stepped out of the collective unconscious and imagination and into the heart of the real world?


  1. Mothra, one of my favorites! Nick what a neat little twist, bringing in a cult pop classic like Mothra and comparing some Mothy history.

  2. There's been also some references that the famous 'Battle of LA' incident involved a giant 'butterfly-like' object with flapping wings and all, yet Micah Hanks did a research on the original newspaper articles, and could find no such mentioning of the strange object described in such a manner.

    There WAS however, the mention of the sighting of a giant luminescent 'butterfly-like' UFO (flapping wings and all) in Keel's Mothman Prophecies, and I made a suggestion to Micah that perhaps the LA Battle rumors originated by some sloppy references to Keel's book.

  3. Hey, have you been paying attention to all the 'Baltic Sea UFO' brouhaha?

    Well, it seems they didn't find the Millennium Falcon after all *Chewie's cry* but they found some sort of weird rocky dome of stone circle at the bottom of the ocean.

    So yep, I'm thinking: Mothra's egg, baybeh!! :P

  4. Except none of the witnesses (as I understand it) described the creature as moth-like, but rather more as bird-like.

    In fact, if you read the eyewitness descriptions it sounds like a giant humanoid owl more than anything.

    The moth connection wasn't made until a reporter dubbed the creature "mothman" after a villain in the Batman comics at the time.

    1. True, but if we analyze Mothman & Mothra as cultural constructs —leaving aside for a minute the fact that Mothman's origin was real-life sightings— then we can see how Mothman slowly progressed from a 'bird-like' entity into a sort of humanoid Moth.

      Frazetta's iconic illustration on the cover of the 1st edition of Keel's book finished Mothman's MEMEtomorphosis, with even the Point Pleasant folks semi-officially endorsing it when they unveiled that weird shiny statue ;)

      Same thing happened with flying saucers, thanks to the liberal misquoting of Kenneth Arnold's account.

    2. "Mothra" was one of the few Toho monsters that is actually a "god" and not just an overgrown dinosaur living in the neighborhood. Nice article!
      -Peter H. Brothers, author of "Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men - The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda."

  5. Many thanks for the comments, Peter, much appreciated!!

    1. The two Japanese girls who sang to Mothra showed up in at least two movies both with Mothra as well. A new Japanese Godzilla movie is supposed to come out either this year or in 2015. No cheesy Matthew Broderick Godzilla in it either. I have one Godzilla item that everyone loves. A small plush of Godzilla playing a rock guitar. :)