Legend of the Chupacabra (2000) – By Timothy Martinez

"This film is dedicated to all those who lost their lives during the production of this documentary."

With those words, this movie opens, tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Presented as a documentary in the same vein as classic television shows
like In Search of…,
it jumps back and forth between narration, interviews with
“eyewitnesses” and film footage of an expedition that set out to prove
the existence of the Chupacabra. If you’re getting a Blair Witch Project
vibe from all that, then you are not the only one. This film seems a
blatant rip-off of the same approach taken by the makers of that film.

For those who may not know, a Chupacabra is a mythical creature very
much like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. Supposedly a small,
lizard-like beast, it has been blamed for the deaths of chicken and
livestock throughout the Southern United States as well as in Mexico,
Puerto Rico and parts of Central and South America. The Chupacabra’s
prey all exhibit the same odd wounds – small puncture marks through
which it’s blood and organs have been removed. This feeding method is
what gave the monster it’s name, as Chupacabra translates as “One who
sucks goats.” Yeah…I know, that sounds far more like some kind of
insult that anything else.

So the bulk of this movie is made up of film footage taken by this
expedition. The group is led by a young female student, with two guys
serving as cameramen. Gee, where have I seen that before? However, this
film differentiates itself from The Blair Witch Project
by adding a few more people into the mix. An ex-military man, a local
rancher and a few others that are not really important complete the
cast. At various intervals, the movie cuts away from the expedition’s
footage to an interview with someone. Sometimes it is with a person
from said expedition, recalling the events, while other times it is
with “experts” in the biological and zoological fields. Most of the
time these cuts coincide with action “caught on tape.”

The first stop the expedition makes is to a farm where the Chupacabra
was spotted recently. While roaming around, filming and interviewing
people, one cameraman actually has a run in with the beast, which sets
into motion the pursuit of the monster undertaken by the team. This
hunt leads them to the home of some local witches and eventually
culminates in a final showdown in the wilderness. Along the way the
Chupacabra claims it’s fair share of victims, with others falling prey
to their own sheer stupidity or the incompetence of others.

I should say right now that all of that sounds MUCH more interesting
than it really is. This film looks like it was financed with a couple
of twenties. Yes, it is cheap beyond belief. Fortunately, the very
nature of the movie – documentary film footage, helps in that regard.
Home film and video footage is not expected to be on the same level as
Hollywood, and operating under the assumption that such footage should
look crappy, the film boldly marches on. Unfortunately, the acting in
this movie is beyond atrocious. This is supposed to be raw, uncensored
and live events captured on film, but every scene with people
interacting suffers from the same stilted delivery of dialog. I’ve seen
better acting in cartoons.

As for FX, this is where the bulk of the budget went…and keeping in
mind that the film looks like it was made for a couple of twenties,
that means about twenty-five bucks went to the Chupacabra suit while
another ten was saved for blood, guts and gore. The Chupacabra suit
here is ridiculous in the extreme and harkens back to the worst
creature costumes of 1950’s B monster flicks. In reality, those who
claim to have seen a Chupacabra nearly always describe the critter as
short and small, usually standing no more than three feet in height.
The producers of this film obviously did not want to search for a
midget to wear a costume, or they just flat out thought a short monster
would not be convincing. Hey, maybe they never saw any of the Leprechaun
movies. Then again…nevermind. Anyway, the Chupacabra on display here
must be the granddaddy of them all, as it stands at six feet plus. When
it jumps out, waving it’s long, droopy arms and running around showing
off it’s thick, chubby legs and oversized head; the natural reaction
would be to drop dead from laughing rather than from fear.

Still, there is a certain morbid fascination that the film cultivates
in the viewer. Despite the truly awful acting, silly FX and idiotic
storyline this movie has the odd ability to compel the audience to
remain watching. Monster lovers will get a good laugh from it while bad
movie fans will delight in it’s sheer awfulness. Wherever your tastes
lead, be warned that in spite of a healthy cheese factor, this film is
still a raging stinkfest.

Final grade: 1.5 out of 5