Bloodlines: The Jersey Devil (2022)

I really love what Small Town Monsters does. They combine documentary and interview footage with narrative story elements to bring creatures from folklore and legend — like the Jersey Devil — to life.

“It’s one of those classic, gothic, American tales that we’ve been wanting to tackle for years but just couldn’t find the right way to do it…until now,” says Small Town Monsters founder Seth Breedlove.

There are many stories told about where the Jersey Devil comes from. Some say that it was the thirteenth child of Mother Leeds, a woman who had already had twelve babies and was cursing her troubled pregnancy. While born as a normal infant, the child grew into a demonic being with hooves, a goat’s head, bat wings and a forked tail. Some say she was a witch and the father the devil. Others claim this legend was spread in the wake of a battle between Benjamin Franklin, who published Poor Richard’s Almanack and rival almanac  Daniel Leeds. Franklin called the Leeds family “monsters” and Daniel the “Leeds Devil” and the story may have grown. What added even more hellfire to the story was that Leads, a Quaker, was ostracized by his religion for publishing pagan symbols in his almanacs and after being kicked out of the church, went all in on esoteric astrological Christianity and occultism.

After being formally chastised as blasphemous and heretical by the Philadelphia Quaker Meeting, Leeds converted to Anglicanism and published anti-Quaker tracts criticizing their theology and throwing in his lot with the British royal governor of New Jersey, Lord Cornbury.

Leeds’ son Titan inherited the almanac business and Franklin predicted his death as a joke and would refer to him as a ghost in the years to follow. Between the symbolism and ghost story being taken as truth, the Jersey Devil was the next logical step. The Pine Barrens, where it supposedly lives, are isolated and pretty undeveloped, so they lend themselves to mysterious theories.

Bloodlines: The Jersey Devil is great, combining really horrific black and white story footage with historical moments that really make the story — perhaps the truth — come to life. It’s a high quality film right up there with the past work of Small Town Monsters.

You can learn more on the official site.

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