Friday, October 20, 2017

Movie Review: Small Town Monsters' Invasion on Chestnut Ridge

As a researcher into and a fan of the unexplained, I always enjoy watching the documentaries Seth Breedlove and the rest of the Small Town Monsters team produce. "Minerva Monster" and "The Mothman of Point Pleasant" remain two of my all-time favorite movies. I am always looking forward to what they will be making next, but I was even more excited about "Invasion on Chestnut Ridge." This was for two reasons. Firstly, the film focuses on the Chestnut Ridge. The Chestnut Ridge is a mountain range that spreads across the western edge of Pennsylvania and just happens to be one of the weirdest and most fascinating places on Earth, in my opinion. Secondly, the film features heavily the work of one of my mentors, Stan Gordon. Stan is one of the main reasons I am where I am today and I always enjoy seeing his work getting more recognition.

The movie opens with a disorienting shot of the Ridge, followed by narrator Mark Matzke's clean, news reporter-esque introduction. Mark begins by informing the viewers that there are places on this planet that appear to be catalysts for the odd and unusual. He mentions Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines, and the Bermuda Triangle before shifting into the Chestnut Ridge. Some of the rich histories of the Ridge is mentioned and then the most infamous case from the Ridge is brought up: the Kecksburg UFO Crash. The Crash is discussed in detail and included some witness testimony from some locals who experienced the event. From there, the movie begins to go chronologically through the Ridge's weirdest cases. You'll see Bigfoot in cahoots with UFOs, birds so big you'll shout "Judas Priest!". and even a werewolf or two. 

The film has a uniquely '80s infused atmosphere that positively oozes the strange. The visuals, sound effects, and special effects all harken back to the B-science fiction and horror films of that period. Yet, the film still accomplished to be informative and interesting, in a style similar to the classic "In Search of..." series. One of the best parts of the movie, as with "Mothman", was the animated sequences reconstructing the encounters. For "Invasion" the animations were saturated with color and were made to resemble old film videos. 

All in all, "Invasion on Chestnut Ridge" is another fantastic entry to the STM collection of movies. I highly recommend the movie to all of my readers and listeners, whether or not they are from Pennsylvania. Be prepared to be shocked, amazed, and thrilled by this throw-back documentary of epic proportions. If you love old sci-fi and horror and unexplained stories of the mysterious, this is the documentary for you. 

You can find the trailer for "Invasion on Chestnut Ridge" here.
You can purchase the movie here.
And you can keep up with STM here.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cryptid Con 2017



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The first annual Cryptid Con was held this past Saturday and Sunday in Frankfort, Kentucky. The event featured some of the top names in cryptozoological research as well as many local brands relating to cryptids and monsters. I was lucky enough to be a speaker at this fantastic event. The Con ran similarly to many comic conventions: two different event tracks, each featuring lectures, Q&As, and panels from some of the top researchers and celebrities in cryptozoology. Other than myself, some speakers who were featured include Loren Coleman, Stan Gordon, Ronald Murphy, David Weatherly, Bruce Campbell, and Lyle Blackburn.
The first day was filled with screenings of excellent documentaries and lectures. After the first day concluded, there was an afterparty for the vendors, guests, and conference attendees. Interestingly enough, around 10:30 that night, the electricity for the whole area went down. That did not stop the party, but it did add a creepy atmosphere to it.
I got to speak on the second day. I discussed my research into Cryptid Livestock Predation and got quite a bit of positive response.

All in all, the event was a fun one to both attend and speak at. If I have the chance, I will definitely go back next year!

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

August 2017 Crypto-Kid Guests

I am proud to announce that I have the next three guests for the Crypto-Kid booked. This will lead us into September. Because I have several guests booked already, I decided to list off who, what, and when for the next few weeks.

August 14th: Tyler Houck. 




Tyler is one of the only other cryptozoologists under 18 in the world. Tyler and I have collaborated on several projects and are good friends. He is the author of Cryptid U.S. which discusses various cryptids around the United States. He is also the writer of the blog Tyler's Cryptozoo. We will discuss Tyler's research into US cryptids and the subject of globsters.

August 21st: Ken Gerhard


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Ken Gerhard is one of the world's premier cryptozoologists. He has written four books including A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts, Big Birds!, and Encounters with Flying Humanoids. He will be coming on the show to discuss sightings of the Thunderbird across America.

August 28th: Chad Lewis




Chad Lewis is the author of over a dozen books discussing various unusual occurrences in the Midwest. His books include Lake Monsters of Wisconsin, The Van Meter Visitor with Kevin Nelson and Noah Voss, and Pepie: The Lake Monster of the Mississippi River with Noah Voss. He will be joining me to discuss lake monsters in the Midwest.

I am quite excited about having these great guests on the show and I hope that you all will tune in.

Who would you like to see on my show? Comment below to let me know!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Vintage UFO, Paranormal, and Cryptid Book Collection

Those of you who know me well, know that I collect lots of books about the unusual. I am quite proud of my collection of nearly 250 books on all kinds of strange phenomena. Among these, I actually own quite a few that are fairly old and rare. If you listen to my show, I actually mention my collection quite regularly so I thought my followers might be interested in a small peek into my library.

Here are a few highlights from my collection:


  • They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers by Gray Barker, Second Edition, signed by the author (1956)
  • Invisible Residents by Ivan T. Sanderson, First Edition (1970)
  • Book of Great Jungles by Ivan T. Sanderson, First Edition (1965)
  • The Flying Saucers Are Real by Donald Keyhoe, First Edition Paperback (1950)
  • Man, Myth, and Magic, all 24 volumes, (1970)
  • Practical Zo├Âlogy by Alvin Davison, Ph.D. (1906)

The last one isn't about unexplained phenomena but it is still the oldest book I own and a testament as to how far zoology has come since 1906. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Kecksburg UFO Crash

52 years ago, on December 9, a bright fireball appeared over several states. The fireball eventually crashed outside of small Pennsylvanian town. The case remains open today and the origins hotly debated. While less well known than other UFO crashes, the Kecksburg event is popular in the area today and has caused the small town of Kecksburg to host an annual UFO themed festival every year.
The festival, run by the Kecksburg Volunteer Fire Department, is the perfect blend of small town festival and UFO conference. The event lasts all weekend and includes a parade on Saturday, a hot dog eating contest on Sunday, and a UFO conference on Sunday. I highly recommend attending, the event is a lot of fun and there are numerous interesting vendors (both paranormal/fortean researchers and local craft-makers).
The speakers at the conference are also great. Dr. Brian Parsons, Ronald L. Murphy Jr., and Stan Gordon are all speaking. I will also be giving a talk at the conference. Everything from cryptozoology to UFOs to other strange Pennsylvanian phenomena.
I will have a table where I will be selling CD copies of some of my best Crypto-Kid episodes. I will also be debuting a new map plotting out various regional names for Bigfoot-like creatures, dwarves, and canine cryptids throughout the USA. Finally, I will have several binders containing various examples of my research into several of my current projects.
I hope to see many new and familiar faces there.

You can find out more information about the Kecksburg Crash here.
You can learn about the festival here and here.

Because of my interest in newspaper accounts of the strange, I am including two newspaper articles from 1965 discussing the Kecksburg crash.
The Pittsburgh Press, December 10, 1965, pt. 1
The Pittsburgh Press, December 10, 1965, pt. 2

The Evening Standard, December 10, 1965, pt. 1
The Evening Standard, December 10, 1965, pt. 2



Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure - An Intense Event... In Tents



As I expressed last week, I love conferences. This year I am attending upwards of 13 different events and those that are later this year have some fierce competition as to my favorite event of the year. I couldn't have had a better time at the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure.

When I arrived at Benner's Meadow Run Campgrounds Friday it was sprinkling slightly. I helped set up my tent and then headed down to the pavilion where the event was being held. I saw that the infamous Legend of Boggy Creek was showing (and I had never gotten to view the movie before) so I grabbed my chair and watched it with my father. I was quite entertained by the movie and can see why so many cryptozoologists find it so significant in their upbring as a researcher. After that, I crawled into my warm (and dry) sleeping bag and went to sleep.

Saturday arrived with the thunder of raindrops pounding on my tent's roof. Aw Crap, I thought to myself as I got dressed and looked at the time: 6 a.m. Double Crap, the event didn't start until 10:30. I had to wait four hours before I could really begin my Bigfoot adventure. So, I did what any good cryptozoologist would do with four hours of free time on his hands in the middle of a supposed Bigfoot-infested camp grounds: I sat in the car with the heat on and read books.

Finally 9:30 rolled around and I glanced outside and saw Stan Gordon arriving. I jumped out of the car (rain coming down in buckets) and helped Stan and his wife, Deb, set up their table and canopy, all while getting wet and muddy in the process. After that most of the other vendors had arrived and the talks were about to start so I braved the elements for the short walk down to the pavilion to check out everything.

The rest of the day was pretty standard: talks went on all day and for the most part I wandered around the vendors catching up with friends and making new acquaintances. I got to meet Steve Kulls (The Sasquatch Detective), Jay Bachochin (of the WPI Hunts the Truth), Kenny Biddle (from Geeks and Ghosts), the lovely hosts of One Bizarre Podcast, Lon Strickler (Phantoms and Monsters), and John Sabol (The Ghost Excavator). I also got to catch up with some good friends of mine: David Weatherly and Dave Spinks (Society of the Supernatural), Ronald Murphy (The Crypto-Guru), Brian D. Parsons (Paranormal News Insider), Stan Gordon, and of course the one and only Eric Altman.

Later that night there was an auction where I got a couple New England Legends DVDs, which is a program that Jeff Belanger does. I got to meet Jeff last week at the Kent Paranormal Weekend and he is an awesome guy. After that we ended up staying at a hotel because the relentless rain caused our tent to leak. I only stayed for half of Sunday's events because I needed to get home. It operated the same as Saturday's except with different speakers.

I have to give Eric an enormous thank you and shout out because without him this event wouldn't have happened. I had such a wonderful time, despite the unendting torrential downpour. Eric said that this year will be the last of the event's for a while. He needs a break from the unending stress that putting together such an event creates. I respect that and respect him for doing such an awesome job at this event. When the PA Bigfoot Camping Adventure returns, though, I am getting tickets immeditately. I honestly can't explain how great I thought this event was. Thank you, Eric, for putting together the event and I look forward to the next one whenever it happens!

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Small Town Monster's The Mothman of Point Pleasant Review



The Mothman is the gold standard of monster stories. Its extensive and detailed legend includes not just nighttime encounters with an unidentified creature of some sort, but it also includes UFO sightings, Men in Black, Native American curses, and even a mutated sandhill crane. But what makes the Mothman so alluring is that opposed to many monster legends... people actually saw the thing. Something was actually there. Over 100 witnesses claim to have encountered a flying humanoid weirdo of a creature.

The Mothman is also not a new story. It began in 1966 and has been retold in numerous mediums, from John Keel's seminal Mothman Prophecies to the movie of the same name; documentaries, novels, video games, and even comic books have all attempted at relaying the chillingly true tale of the Mothman.

I am personally an enormous Mothman fan. While I am a researcher of the weird and wonderful, I do not consider myself a researcher into the Mothman phenomenon. That story has been told and retold in numerous ways. I honestly feel that I couldn't contribute anything productive to the study, but I've hungrily consumed any and all Mothman related media I could get my paws on and still greedily want more. Now, though, I think I have found something that might hold off that hunger for a little while: The Mothman of Point Pleasant.

I was fortunate enough to be allowed to view a pre-release review copy of the movie, courtesy of Seth Breedlove, the movie's director. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect before I watched the movie. I am a fan of Small Town Monster's work but the previous movies they had done were all focused on smaller scale Bigfoot sighting flaps. I was skeptical of whether or not they would be able to cover the vast information connected to the Mothman. After viewing, I can thankfully say that they passed with flying colors.

The movie opens with some shots of the TNT area, where numerous sightings were reported, with Lyle Blackburn's creepy, Texas-twanged narration. I immediately got chills and knew I was in for one heck of a ride. Mothman covered the history of the Mothman phenomenon chronologically, from the Battle of Point Pleasant to the Silver Bridge collapse, and all the cryptid goodness in between. Breedlove and crew leave no stone unturned in their examination of the creature, interviewing key witnesses, well-known authorities on the events, and even just some of Point Pleasant's natives from the time of the events.

I actually did learn of a few cases I hadn't heard before and enjoyed hearing some familiar cases being told in a visual way. As much as I loved the great information and tales, I honestly think that the highlight of the movie was easily the visuals. Seth and company employed the use of aerial drones for awesome landscape shots, used numerous gorgeous photos of the TNT igloos and the area that surrounds them, and absolutely stunning digital animation. Honestly, my jaw dropped when I saw the animation segments, which showed the visuals of a story as the witness described what happened.

I cannot recommend this movie enough. If you have even a passing interest in the Mothman or strange stories, you will love The Mothman of Point Pleasant.

The Mothman of Point Pleasant, the fourth Small Town Monsters film, will be released on DVD and digitally on June 2, 2017. You can watch the trailer for the movie here https://youtu.be/Vqk9RlHA-3Y. You can also find more about Small Town Monsters and their documentaries at their website http://www.smalltownmonsters.com/.