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Review: Small Town Monsters’ Terror in the Skies

I’ve been looking forward to Small Town Monsters’ Terror in the Skies ever since it was first announced. As a big cryptozoology fan myself, the infamous picture of a supposed thunderbird with its wings spread inside a museum has transfixed me for years. Much like The Lochness Monster, it’s easy to believe that the creature is a remnant of the dinosaur age, a species that somehow survived the test of time. I was thrilled when Seth Breedlove and company decided to feature the predator in their latest documentary, and as always, they give viewers a look at the winged demon from its first sightings in the 1670s to its most recent appearances in 2017. A giant bird, a pterodactyl, an evil specter or the cousin to West Virginia’s Mothman, thunderbirds are one of the most overlooked cryptids, but they’re also one of the most mysterious and fascinating. Terror in the Skies is written, directed and produced by Seth Breedlove. Adrienne Breedlove served as producer as well, and the documentary sees cinematography by Zac Palmisano, animation by Santino Vitale and Chris Scalf, and classic narration by Lyle Blackburn. Terror in the Skies is flying to DVD and on demand markets starting June 7th 2019 and here’s why its one of the most exciting documentaries in this field, and perhaps the first of its kind. Set your wingspan to the go position and dive into unknown territory.

When you look back at some of the previous Small Town Monsters documentaries, they’re mostly covering topics and critters from decades and decades ago. Although I watch every feature with wild enthusiasm and an open mind, I can see how audiences could be bored by the material that one could consider dated. That’s why Terror in the Skies speaks to modern society and the next generation of cinema viewers who are looking for something out of the realm of normalcy. There was a rash of giant flying creature sightings in Chicago two years ago, which means this story is as prevalent in the 2010’s as it was in the 1940’s and 1970’s. The height of the giant bird sightings began in the 1940’s, during an era coined as “The Flap,” where dozens of eyewitnesses reported winged creatures swooping from tree to tree. One reported attack, where birds came down from the sky and seized children playing in the backyard, is incredibly chilling. We find over-sized rats in the sewers of New York. I see videos on Facebook of pet owners with cats and rabbits the size of baby elephants. Is it really too hard to believe that over-sized birds of prey are lying in wait in our biggest forests, ready to claw and peck at anything that could be their next meal? Furthermore, with settlers reporting a large winged creature near The Mississippi river in the 1670’s, is it too much to believe that thunderbirds are the last entrants in a species that began to go extinct as the world changed after the age of dinosaurs? The timeline of events and the depths of these sightings are staggering, and they are so backed up by history that you can’t help but become defensive about their validity.

I mean, look at the Piasa mural in Alton, Illinois. It’s covered in great depths in Terror in the Skies, but it dates all the way back to 1200 AC and was supposedly drawn by Native Americans. You wouldn’t know it by the looks of the area today, but Illinois is home to a lot of credible notes in history and big forests, and its geography served as a pipeline for events much bigger than itself. Although the story reaches as far as The Great Lakes and even somehow manages to leak over into West Virginia, it’s truly a potentially prehistoric predator that can’t be ignored. One day, we may very well find bones or a fossilized body of a thunderbird, and then Seth Breedlove can laugh and say “I told you so!” In the effort to be neutral, I can see how others doubt the validity of this creature. Same as with Bigfoot, with all the modern technology at our disposal, wouldn’t we have seen the big bird up close and personal by now? Well, it flies so fast that you don’t have a chance to get your cell phone camera ready. However, Terror in the Skies features supposed video footage shot on a home video camera in 1977. While the footage looks like big birds flying around skinny trees, and quality and angles play tricks on you, it does serve as a talking point to get the crypto community debating and re-examining their ideas in regards to thunderbirds. It’s easy to dismiss the monsters as fat turkey vultures, and phantoms don’t exist, and dinosaurs are extinct, and The Mothman is nothing more than hysteria and the work of over-active imaginations. But the idea of a bird the size of a bus really isn’t that big of a stretch, right? I’d like to think so. And after watching Terror in the Skies, you may be a believe, too!

Terror in the Skies is the best Small Town Monsters documentary yet in terms of behind-the-scenes work. The animation gets better with every new release and Lyle Blackburn is killing it with his narration. The pace of the movie matches the rash of sightings so accurately, and the documentary itself is as historical and mesmerizing as it is thought provoking and terrifying. I always say this, and it still rings true, the Small Town Monsters movies should be playing on television networks around the world, on cable and at venues that specialize in otherworldly audiences. I think that’s why experts, eye-witnesses and commentators are willing to lend their opinions to documentaries such as Terror in the Skies. The production value is as high as the horizon, and Seth Breedlove presents his material in a scholastic way that’s educational, analytical and open-minded with just enough nightmare material to keep you on the edge of your seat. The Chicago Mothman, an omen, an alien, a dinosaur, or just a flock of birds that needs a few extra soars around the neighborhood, skydive into the realm of “what if” and explore one of the forgotten cryptids that is thankfully making a comeback thanks to Seth Breedlove, Adrienne Breedlove and the team at Small Town Monsters. I highly recommend purchasing this when it’s released to video on demand this coming June. For me, it’s in my top three cryptid documentaries and it’s perfect for summer, a time when you want to get out there and explore the wilderness. But be careful and keep your eyes above the treeline. Something might be lurking in the underbrush, waiting for its chance to feed.

Final Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)