It’s always been contended by skeptics that many paranormal phenomena, creatures, monsters, aliens, and the like often start in the minds of a filmmaker and after they have their debut on the big screen will generally disperse into the population’s collective unconscious before finally being sighted in the wild one dark night. But is this analysis always one way? In fact, it seems more often than not the answer is the other way around.
Foremost at this assumption is the film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” When Steven Spielberg first created this film, it was supposed to be a terrifying account of a family’s alien experience before he changed his mind and decided to make the aliens less terrifying and more helpful than before. The decision wasn’t entirely unheard of since B movies from the 1950’s had often had an alien visitor who decries it is the myopia of our species that does not allow us to see just how helpful alien visitors may be and how helpful they could be to our progress through the stars. But just as we have hundreds or even thousands of films of humans fighting mysterious creatures from beyond the stars, there were thousands of stories of humans interacting with supernatural entities long before the concept of fiction was truly understood. In the beginning, all stories were told as accounts of events that were believed to have really transpired. And the mythology of these cultures always depicted stories of supernatural beings that were far beyond the human scope of understanding. For tens of thousands of years these stories were the closest thing to science mankind had.
So the notion that fiction could give birth to stories of supernatural entities is not entirely invalid, but it seems we have precedent for the reverse being true. People who encounter forces beyond their understanding will create a narrative for that force – or that entity. In the end it’s surprising we don’t have more stories about things that are beyond our understanding. The only reason that seems to make sense is the relative obscurity of things like the Loveland Frog People or the Beast of Bray Road. One film about the Beast of Bray Road will suffice in giving it a back story while aliens, a phenomenon that is quite varied, may make up a whole genre for itself.
But there are examples where fiction will at least directly precede stories of a similar creature suddenly appearing. Shortly before the appearance of the now famous “Green Clawed Beast” of Indiana where a woman by the name of Mrs. Darwin Johnson was grabbed while in the water by a mysterious fishlike humanoid abomination in 1955, the film “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” had surfaced a year prior. The plot of the film and a description of Mrs. Johnson’s encounter read like one in the same.
On the other hand, the aforementioned “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was based largely on peoples’ stories of alien abduction. The film took into account everything, including descriptions of what the creatures looked like.
It seems difficult to argue that film and the paranormal do not influence one another, but it seems the influence goes both ways more than the skeptics would care to admit.