Saturday, 16 June 2018


As a cryptozoology fan I have naturally been aware of Small Town Monsters - Aleksandar Petakov and Seth Breedlove for some time now, but strangely had never previously seen any of their productions. After all, the life of an aspiring cryptozoology author, researcher, lecturer, filmmaker and dad who works and commutes to the city of London daily, is, to put it mildly, a busy one! ;) However, after deciding to start this movie blog, I was lucky enough to get an invite from the guys themselves to preview and review this awesome sounding docus-series, so, here it goes!

On the Trail of... Champ, the new five episode mini-series is for want of a better word, a who's who of Champ research; featuring many of the star players, from eyewitness Sandra Mansi (RIP), to full time researcher and Champ law creator- Katy Elizabeth, as well as many other awesome players - Scott Mardis, William Dranginis et al. All of whom are featured, in this intimate and yet somehow epic portrayal of the 'mysterious' creature that is Champ.

This picturesque journey, shines a spotlight on those who have been fortunate enough to see these mysterious creatures, as well as those other special breeds of human, who have been enticed, enamoured and thereafter obsessed, with making the discovery of these elusive creatures their life calling. The series seamlessly glides through the historical bedrock of local legend and synchronously weaves the witness reports along a loom line of the practical research, theory and evidence gathering of those hardcore Champ devotees, that are delightfully trapped at the lake, in an open prison, from which they have no desire to escape!

Without giving too much away, each episode elucidates key components of the search for champ, throughout the seasons, in this very large (120 miles long) lake, that occupies many different environments, including caves, islands, bays and swamps, in which these creatures could thrive in near isolation, (especially if they're nocturnal, as is suspected.) It also shows the cost of the human effort involved in this research, and how few researchers there really are dedicated to studying the species as well as what is really required to be a Champ researcher.

Conjecture is thankfully missing in this documentary and a well thought out common sense approach to witness descriptions and researchers theories are presented in the matter of fact manner, one would expect to find watching, 'David Attenborough', when delivering his analysis of the habits of the mountain gorilla or explaining away some new species found in our ocean depths.

Viewers will find themselves entranced from the opening of the first episode, right through to the last, in this classically styled, yet original, mini series; and, as a lover of lake monster lore first and foremost myself, I confess to being in the middle of my third viewing before I even started to write this review.

It is to be expected that more 'On The Trail of...' documentaries will be made in the near future, including one about Bigfoot, I am told; and for my part, I feel as though this body of work could be the catalyst to energise and reignite cryptozoology in film. A genre, for which people everywhere, hold a secret  place in their hearts, with a hopeful promise that: 'The age of discovery is not yet dead....for who knows what we'll find tomorrow?'

'On the Trail of… Champ' -  the new five episode mini-series, is available here

Written by Andrew McGrath, Author of Beasts of Britain

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