‘Bridgewater Triangle’ film cites litany of mysteries
It was a late-night walk in a Raynham neighborhood silent and still, lost in sleep.
Suddenly, William Russo’s dog, Samantha, began to shake and quiver — as he describes it, “rattlin’ like an old Chevy.”
Russo looked around, listened, and finally heard what was terrifying her.
“Eh wan chu. Eh wan chu. Keahr. Keahr.”
A sort of high-pitched wail.
And then he saw it.
Illuminated in the circle of a street light was a creature unlike any he’d ever seen: 3 to 4 feet tall, potbellied, big-eyed, covered in hair, unclothed.
Later, as he struggled to make sense of what he’d seen, Russo realized that whatever it was, it was beckoning him: “We want you, we want you . . . Come here, come here.”
But he never saw it again.
These are the sorts of stories — seemingly endless and diverse, bizarre and flouting reason — that emanate from the so-called Bridgewater Triangle, the subject and title of a full-length documentary by local filmmakers Aaron Cadieux and Manny Famolare (to whom Russo told his story).
The film, making the rounds in local screenings, weaves history, paranormal research, first-hand accounts, police reports, and urban legends as a means to explore, if not completely make sense of, the “how” and the “why” of this infamous area’s multitude of unexplained phenomena.
“Our goal was to present information from eyewitnesses and experts in a neutral, journalistic way, and let the viewer make their own determination,” said Cadieux, a Dartmouth resident.
Local residents will have several opportunities to see for themselves, with a free screening at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Raynham Public Library, as well as a Dead of Night Tours presentation at 8 p.m. Friday at the Trask Museum in Plymouth, and a 7:30 p.m. showing May 16 at Uplifting Connections in Bridgewater.
You may have heard some of the stories. The 200-square-mile Bridgewater Triangle, whose rough borders stretch from Abington to Freetown to Rehoboth, abounds with them — apparitions, UFOs, Bigfoot, killer dogs, mystical creatures, enormous birds and snakes, satanic rituals, disappearances, murders.
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman thought up the ominous name in his 1983 book, “Mysterious America.”
“It’s becoming one of the preeminent paranormal stories in the world,” Tim Weisberg, host of the radio show “Spooky Southcoast,” says in the film.
The cinematographically rich documentary, narrated by John Horrigan, started out as a practice film more than a decade ago. While a student at Fitchburg State College, Cadieux made a 30-minute short about the triangle.
But the film got passed around and generated so much interest that in 2010, when he was a professional filmmaker with his own production company, Bristol County Media LLC, Cadieux set out to make a full-length version.
Around the same time, Famolare, a lifelong East Bridgewater resident, was looking to do a similar project; the two eventually teamed up.
Like many people growing up in the area, Cadieux, who lived 6 miles from the Freetown-Fall River State Forest, had always heard the stories, but never experienced anything firsthand.
“I consider myself a skeptic when it comes to this stuff,” he said. “The Bridgewater Triangle is an interesting topic, but it takes a lot to convince me.”
Famolare, on the other hand, likens the proliferation of tales to the smell that permeates a house even years after its cigarette-smoking denizens have left.
“The amount of stories that come out of there, and the consistency of stories — there is something with that area,” he said. “I do think there are some things that are definitely overexaggerated. But there are stories that are very believable.”
According to the film, the most “active” spots are the Freetown-Fall River State Forest and the roughly 17,000-acre Hockomock Swamp, which extends into Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, Easton, Norton, Raynham, and Taunton.
According to Weisberg, “Hockomock” was Algonquin for “place where spirits dwell,” and it became a hiding place for Native Americans after King Philip’s War in the late 17th century.
Some credit the pervasive, unexplained happenings to the mistreatment of the Native American population at the time. Entire towns were destroyed, innocent women and children were slaughtered, and, ultimately, 5 percent of the region’s residents — of all backgrounds — were killed. The Colonial forces eventually prevailed, capturing King Philip — who was drawn, quartered, and beheaded — and selling surviving non-Christian Native Americans into slavery, according to the film.
Within the Hockomock Swamp, there have been reports of dancing orbs of light, raptors with 12-foot wingspans, snakes “the size of stovepipes,” red-haired orangutans, “ravenous red-eyed cats,” black panthers and mountain lions, and, most consistently, Bigfoot, the film says.
In the early 1980s, the Boston Herald interviewed now-deceased West Bridgewater resident John Baker about his purported brush with the hairy beast.
“Something was following me and I knew it was big,” Baker is quoted as saying in the story, which is read by its author, Ed Hayward, in the film. “I knew it wasn’t a human because when it passed by me, I could smell it. It smelled like a skunk, musty and dirty, like it lived in the dirt.”
Other headlines over the years blared: “Mysterious Balloon over Bridgewater!” “UFOs over Randolph? Some Persons Say Yes!” “Killer Dog Eludes Abington Police!”
Elsewhere, there have been reports of lingering and mischievous apparitions, phantom hitchhikers and antagonistic ghost trucks, drums and voices speaking Algonquin, and fires that gave off no heat, smell, or smoke. Others have sworn to have seen puckwudgies, 3-foot-tall beings with magical powers associated with Wampanoag folklore.
In the Freetown-Fall River forest, meanwhile, police have investigated a series of satanic activities, most of them in the 1970s and the 1980s. According to police reports, the murders of three women were linked to satanists who held rituals there, a dozen baby calves were slaughtered, birds were sacrificed in the center of pentagrams, animal bones of all types were discovered, and graves (both mausoleums and pet cemeteries) were robbed.
The filmmakers themselves recalled how their lights went on and off of their own volition while filming, and batteries drained much faster than usual.
As Famolare said, the stories are so copious that the documentary could be 60 hours long.
“Whatever it is, we keep talking about this region for some reason,” said a well-known paranormal researcher, Jeff Belanger. “And the reason is, something real happened here. There’s no other way. You take away the real events, and it’s just a story. Stories go away.”