El Chupacabra

     There's a myth among the Latin countries of a creature that mutilates livestock under the cover of darkness. The tiny reptilian is known as... EL CHUPACABRA. Or by its decidedly less intimidating English nickname, "The Goat Sucker." In the right hands, the Chupa would be a great monster to base a movie on. It hasn't been 'scientifically' proven to exist, so the filmmakers can get away with more than the usual Nature Gone Wild film (SHARK'S CAN'T SWIM BACKWARDS.) Well, thankfully the good folks at York Entertainment (producers of "Ankle Biters" and "Axe'Em") decided to pick up the slack.

     We open with a man tapping his foot while waiting for the driver to open up the back of his semi truck for a look at whatever the hell is in there. Here's a hint: Its name is in the title. Anyway, we watch the guy in the leather shoes- who I now dub Shoe Guy, tap his foot like that for a good four hours before the EVIL driver walks up brandishing a metal toothpick and opens up the truck for him. I'm not really an expert on the smuggling of razor-toothed mythical creatures, but I get the feeling that something like a cage might be prudent to invest in. The guy walks inside and gags at the sight of all the play-doh and red Kool-Aid staining up the inside, and then he stumbles back outside, pretty badly cut up. The Chupacabra crouches triumphantly over the body of the Shoe Guy. Evil Driver and Chupa stare at each other, having a Moment. Cue opening credits.

     CHUPACABRA! The first monster movie I've seen to boldly mix troubadour guitar and techno bassline and call it 'tension' music! The score consists of said Latin techno leading up to an action scene, at which point it gets weirdly quiet.

     Our "hero," whose name is revealed as Navarro a good hour into this film, is an animal control officer- on the edge. Drunk Hispanic women in various tiers of hotness cling to him and plead for help with their mysteriously mangled pets. Navarro is a sort of John Stamos stand-in, except he speaks with a very forced Mexican accent after about the twenty-minute mark. I guess he attended some Latin Pride seminar where he realized the importance of the 1/8th Hispanic blood in him. The first of which is an obviously sloshed senorita wearing a flimsy nightie and black lingerie in the middle of the day, who was spooked by SOMETHING in her shed. Navarro assures her it's probably a mouse, but she makes it clear through body language that she wants him to stick around. (duh huh.) Seriously, if she were any less subtle she'd be asking him to cough.

     From there we meet the 'heroine.' Best described as a vacant-eyed mannequin with giant goofy hoop earrings, she's a 'best-selling' cryptozoology author attending a signing for her new book, "A Readers' Digest Condensed Book With A Chupacabra Label Taped To It." A fan gets a little uppity and royally pisses off said author, leading to her being kicked out of her own book signing. As a little side note: the book's title says "El Chupacabre."

     Navarro inspects the remains of a dog belonging to an unfairly hot young lady who is married to/a live-in nurse for/ related to a greasy Mexican thug type who hobbles around on crutches. Sparks fly between Navarro and Crutchy briefly, then he spends the better part of TEN MINUTES trying and failing to clear the shot. After Navarro resumes talking to Hot Latina #2, he skulks off into the background, then later on the camera starts following Navarro on his way out of the yard, only to catch Crutchy in the frame again and a again, looking frustrated and trying very hard to not look at the camera. I have to commend the director for one thing- the fact that the crippled man didn’t cease to be just because he left the shot shows more spatial intelligence than certain other scenes…

     That author girl tries to get him to help hunt down the mystery creature. He gives her El Shouldero Frio, as he has an appointment to be chewed out by a shrewish superior in a horrifying turquoise dress. Apparently in his rebelliousness, he’s been forgetting to file his TPS reports! He goes home to his more believably Hispanic cousin Pablo, and they get off on a nice tangent about his encounter with the Chupacabra as a child. He now bears three red marker stripes covered with Elmer’s glue- I mean, deep scars, as a result of this run-in. Miss Conspiracy Nut arrives to assist Navarro in checking out his cousin’s flabby midsection.

     Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice (or a community college or the Center for Disease Control or something), Evil Driver (who is now clearly the villain due to his resemblance to the bad guy from Double Dragon) and his friend Dr. Goodspeed stare intently at a red floodlight. Goodspeed, hereafter referred to by his actor’s pseudonym “Treach,” is ironically the whitest person in here besides Murdock or Molock or whatever the Villain’s name was. All of his intent gazes at the trouble light and pithy lines are totally blown away by the stupid little bow tie he sports at all times. In one of the film’s defining scenes, immediately after cutting away from the lab, we watch these two walk towards us along a walkway, while Bad Guy Music BLASTS. Every bloody step of their walk from Point A to Point B is here for your viewing pleasure.

     Navarro arrives at the pet morgue. Yes, the pet morgue. He wants to examine the body of one of the dogs that has (mysteriously) been mutilated recently. It’s a wonderfully pitiful sight, with him sheepishly twisting and stretching his hat while pleading with the secretary. As a side note, my friend John says he heard the sound of live dogs barking in the background of this scene, which makes the whole ‘pet morgue’ concept seem all the more off.

     Later or maybe earlier, I forget which, the Drunken Senorita bites it. She goes outside to inspect a noise, passing several dozen gardening implements that would make good defensive weapons, then is tackled and ripped apart by El Chupacabra. When watching this scene with my friends, we placed bets on whether or not she would actually pick up one of the dozen axes or rakes to use against the creature.

     The next morning, Jackass Cop and his Eager Young Space Cadet inspect the corpse. “I wrote a book about killing psychopaths,” he remarks for no reason. “Big letters. Can’t miss it.” El Chupacabra is now officially the first movie I’ve ever seen where fully half of the central cast is published authors. The Animal Control Officer Who Knows No Bounds and Hack Author Girl arrive for a peek at the body. Officer Jackass and his protégé, who has a habit of repeating things he says for added emphasis, quickly rebuff them. Navarro gives up on seeing the body and instead settles on poking around a strip of flesh that he found laying a few yards away. And here I thought police thoroughly inspected murder scenes, marking off all the debris with little flags and such. One boring-ass van ride later, she explains her theory that the Chupacabra is an alien, not unlike those found at Roswell, that is more adapted to hunting and killing.

     The Shadow Boss finds another fatally wounded guy crawling out of a semi truck. He responds to the dying man’s plea for help by jamming a needle into his neck. Then, Navarro arrives in his dogcatcher’s van of holy might. A spastic chase scene ensues in which the villain clumsily shambles up a pile of dirt, then turns around and whacks Navarro in the face with a giant plank of wood. As Navarro struggles to his feet, Villain runs back the way they originally came from and escapes somehow. How isn’t important. The pie-faced pair wanders around the chicken entrails-littered semi and makes gagging noises as the film goes really grainy. It might be for dramatic effect, if not for the fact that it tends to happen a lot through the course of the film in general and not just here.

     And now for the first scene where the director betrays his inability to tell simple directions- Officer Jackass and Deputy Sakura are driving along their beat. Because they’re cops, you know? He says he sees some suspicious people up ahead. So what does he do? SLAMS THE CAR INTO A U-TURN AND DRIVES IN THE TOTALLY OPPOSITE DIRECTION. And what’s even more amazing is that doing so suddenly phases them to the construction site or wherever where Navarro and Nancy Drew are. This leads to Navarro getting the crap punched out of him for overstepping his authority as Animal Control personnel at long last.

     Treach- DOCTOR Treach, puts out a big reward for the capture of the creature. This leads to the inadvertent death of Crutchy, as well as Officer Jackass getting himself caught in a bumpkin’s snare trap. Navarro arrives later on with a snazzy tranq gun, and courageously shuts himself into his trunk to protect himself. The bag lady that pointed out the hypothetical whereabouts of the Chupa is killed in a superfluous later scene.

     Meanwhile, the shrewy boss fires Navarro. It’s ironic, because he finally handed in his damn report! He shreds his walking papers and she cheerfully tosses a whole folder of them at him while hissing the immortal line- “You fuck with a fucker and you get fucked.” There’s no witty retort to that sort of statement, so Navarro goes home to find Pablo’s shoe on the lawn. Idiot left his foot in it, too! Pablo kicks off with a dying soliloquy, and now—it’s personal. Oh yeah, I think Jackass Cop chews him out for conveniently being at yet another murder scene.

     Back at the Days Inn Los Angeles, Treach shows his plan to bring the Chupa to them. “It’s an old war trick. Wound a woman and the man will come running.” He implements this stupid plan by going into the chamber where the red light was, where he has a female Chupa chained up, and shoots it somewhere below the belt. Great ‘war trick,’ Treach. Let’s see you pull a Bell-Huey out of your hat!

     After somehow getting confidential documents through her accountant (!?) Author Girl and Navarro deduce the location of the Chupa holding pen. They break in, whilst the bad guys are about to make their getaway. They activate a sort of self-destruct device that will flood the complex with cyanide gas in fifteen minutes. Shortly afterwards, the Super Troopers arrive on the scene. Using his spider senses or possibly by spotting the giant white van, Jackass deduces that Navarro has broken into the place. “The alarms are going off, so we don’t need a warrant!” his companion says cheerfully. So they enter as well, with the rookie making sure to shut the door firmly behind them. Moron.

     Treach is double-teamed by the Chupas and messily killed just in time for Navarro to get blamed for it! They find the countdown thingamajig and later deduce from the floor plan of the place (?) the whole cyanide thing. After shooting Navarro in the thigh just because he can, Jackass leaves the two with his sidekick while he searches for the critters. Guess what! He’s a sort of loose cannon law enforcer too, and is simply hunting the creature to get Treach’s bounty! He dies eventually. Big loss. Rookie girl starts cat fighting with Author Girl. In the struggle, Navarro takes a shot at the cop girl from behind, and in a marvelously edited sequence, she takes the dark in her left breast.

     Let me say that again. Shot from behind- dart in front. Either darts can ricochet, or the editor was tending to an addiction or two while watching this scene.

     Anyway, the two heroes stagger through a dark room, and get clawed slightly by the Chupacabra couple. Miss Science runs off into the boiler room somewhere to try and shut off the cyanide release, while Navarro takes the opportunity to wander around posing dramatically with the tranquilizer gun. Uh-oh, time’s up! Gas begins to flood the heroine’s general area as she paws at a keyboard that’s been nailed at random below a water pipe. She manages to shut it off somehow, which also somehow restores power to the place. Back with Navarro, we find that there is no gas whatsoever in his area. I can’t help but get the feeling that was another, more drastic version of his earlier brush-offs. Opening an automatic door, he spies the Chupacabra! In this climactic battle, he first drop kicks the Chupa in the face then is shoved the hell over by the second creature. It’s right up there with the dart gun and the wood plank scenes in terms of hilarity. All they need is someone to overdub it with the “Ahaha!” sound bite from the old Tick cartoon. (Specifically: Tick v. Dinosaur Neil.) Navarro wrestles the creature, and eventually everyone ends up sort of okay after Diet Nancy Drew scares it off with Officer Jackass’ revolver (that she picked off his tattered corpse.)

     Oh, and what better way to wrap up a crappy movie than with an aggravating ending? Hot Latina #2 (formerly Mrs. Crutchy) is standing by the side of the highway trying to thumb a ride out of town. A white van pulls over—and it’s none other than The Villain! The walking hair gel plant lets her in, and leeringly looks through the bars into the back of the van—containing Mr. and Mrs. Chupacabra. And so, our hero is gainfully unemployed and presumably hooked up with the nattering conspiracy theorist author girl, and the bad guy makes off with the monster and the best-looking woman in the entire movie. The moral: Evil will always prevail. Because good is stupid.

Favorite Character: Either Treach or The ‘Me-Too’ Cop
Favorite Scenes: The U-turn, the Chupacabra push-fight.
DVD Extras: Trailers for movies about ninja scarecrows and black chicks avenging the death of a platinum recording artist killed by having his nipples shot out.

The Making of "El Chupacabra"

Like most 'making of' segments, El Chupacabra's is a smug, self-serving little piece of stray film that functions basically as a commercial being aimed at people who already watched the movie. The director, Treach and The Villian talk at length about nothing special, we see the usual shots of the monster masks being molded and scenes from the movie, only at a worse angle and with the film equipment in the shot. Worth noting is that the Chupacabra is played by a comically tiny Asian man.

The most hilarious thing in this extra is by far the director's admission that not even he knew exactly what Dr. Treach wanted with the damn thing. At least he's honest.

We had a lot of fun with Treach. Treach is a media phenomena that can't be explained. He's one of those types of people that the producer likes to emphasize the presence of to the point where you start to believe that he really is a draw. Look at the cover above. The only credit it lists is "STARRING TREACH." And he neither gets the most camera time nor survives the film.