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The Legend of Memphré: Monster madness

Monster madness

Photo: Howard Chackowicz and Bernie Mireault

Local doc dudes go on a hunt for Memphré

Ari Cohen and Evan Beloff, the boys behind local documentary production house Diversus, like to dive headfirst into the subjects of their films and blur the line between the back and the front of the camera. The makers of the infamous Being Osama have led projects in past years like Schmelvis, a cross-America road-trip quest to prove Elvis’s Jewish roots, and more recently Montreal Confidential, aired on Global TV not long ago, which followed the filmmakers’ adventures with a team of 20-somethings on a cross-Quebec tour. The duo thrive on participation – no one could possibly accuse them of not being game.

Their new adventure comes in the form of a monster hunt. Ari Cohen set out with his team last summer to explore the myth of the Memphrémagog lake creature, dubbed Memphré. Supposedly born as a native folk tale in the late 18th century, designed in part to keep children away from the treacherous waters, the legend – our own local Loch Ness monster – has only grown with passing years. Over two hundred sightings of an approximately 30-foot-long, dark-coloured, humpbacked creature have been recorded to date, and locals of both Magog, Quebec, and Newport, Vermont – both of which give onto Lake Memphrémagog – have devoted their lives and careers to the myth.

Diversus’s humorous adventure doc The Legend of Memphré follows Cohen as he squeezes into his wetsuit in a dedicated effort to meet Memphré. The team tracks down an impressive slew of specialists and eyewitnesses both in Quebec and the U.S., including paranormal investigators, parapsychologists, psychics and crypto-dracontologists. Cohen’s enthusiastic adventurousness and the interviews he conducts are by turns informative and hilarious, and uncover a fascinating area of Quebec history – one that turns out to be much more politically trepidacious than ever expected.

Isa Tousignant

Catch The Legend of Memphré on the Space Network, October 27 at 10 p.m.

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  6 comments

  • by Pedro Eggers - October 21, 2004, 1:43 pm

    Yes, because I’ve got nothing better to do at 10 o’clock on a weekday than watch this on a formerly good sci-fi & fantasy network…

    SPACE: THE IMAGINATION STATION used to have a solid line-up that consisted of Babylon 5, The X-Files, Xena and other cool stuff. Now SPACE’s schedule looks like it was assembled by a drunken monkey who couldn’t give a rat’s ass as to how dysfunctional it is.

    I won’t dispute the merits of this doc (frankly, I’ll let someone else do that if they feel so inclined), all I’m saying is that I’ve got better things to do than watch it but hey, if you want to go ahead.

  • by Juana Cabezas - October 21, 2004, 9:47 pm

    Why is the Hour promoting something that’s not even going to be watched?

    It’s not even good enough to be seen on the theatre screens and we’re supposed to believe that it being buried on Space is a selling point? If Fantasia didn’t want this thing doesn’t that tell you something? Besides it’s either going to air against baseball or Smallville. It will be lucky to find even one viewer.

  • by Eric Bertrand - October 22, 2004, 11:58 am

    I’ve been to Memphrémagog many times over the years and I’ve never seen this whatever it is. It’s a myth drummed up for publicity and nothing more. If we were smart we’d start one about Beaver Lake just to see if it works here too.

    This special sounds like a waste of time.

  • by Nathan Murray - October 24, 2004, 10:04 pm

    The way people cling to the legends of these extraordinary creatures is really quite sad. The fact that there are in fact people who have spent their lives searching for the Loch Ness Monster and Memphré is pathetic. This is a bona-fide example of people who are really, really gullible. What the blue FUCK is a crypto-dracontologist, anyway? Do you mean to tell me that they actually managed to think up a fancy name to call themselves? It might be their only accomplishment.

    The public’s belief in the paranormal continues to sadden me, as it simply demonstrates how addicted people are to belief, to thinking that they’ve got one up on the sceptics. They see themselves as better people because they have faith in the universe to solve it’s mysteries. Making an entertaining documentary hidden away on television is one thing, and may even be worthwhile, you never know. But spending your life chasing fairies? It’s a failure’s way of legitimizing yourself.

  • by David Taylor - October 28, 2004, 6:32 pm

    This show was pretty poorly done and did not do much to lend any credibility to it’s cause….however…My wife used to live in Magog on the waterfront….and she saw Memphre once, about 20 years ago…It’s easy to dismiss the unknown, especially when some people pathetically try to attract attention (and tourism) from exploting ….I would not beleive in Memphre myself, had my wife had not seen something..but I do beleive she saw something,..something that can not be explained…

  • by Ted Behr - October 8, 2007, 12:30 pm

    I am a native of Newport, Vermont which is at one end of Lake Memphremagog. There is a nutty lady from down country who came up and named herself the “Memphre expert” and self-bestowed local historian status. She even copyrighted the name Memphre which really pissed off a lot of people and caused a big to-do with the local chamber of commerce.
    Anyway, some of her local “testimonials” were from some playful locals who couldn’t resist the temptation to feed her a line of pure BS. One guy said “Oh yeah, she asked me if I’d ever seen a lake monster out there and I told her I did. She believed the whole damn thing…hook line and sinker! Course nobody up here has ever seen such a thing but flatlanders love to hear just about anything we can make up.”

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