Friday, May 17, 2013

The Cinema File #179: "Chupacabra Vs. The Alamo" Review

Well, it was bound to happen I suppose. Perhaps it was too much to ask that I would get a third Syfy Channel Original movie in a row as unabashedly awesome as Tasmanian Devils and Battle Dogs, especially since I knew going in that the next one in my queue was called Chupacabra Vs. The Alamo. This movie isn't very good, but it knows exactly how not very good it is and does its best to embrace its badness and exploit it for all its worth, shooting for a Tommy Wiseau-esque so-bad-its-good quality after recognizing that it has no other option. Then again, at least it tries something, which is more than I can say for some other movies I've seen recently.

Chupacabra Vs. The Alamo follows Eric Estrada as a DEA agent stationed in a Texas border town who finds himself hip deep in man eating cryptids after a pack of wild and rabid super dogs follow a Mexican drug cartel into America. Before we get any Chupacabra action clear enough to actually see what we're dealing with, the first thing you'll notice with this movie is the driving. That probably sounds weird, but the movie does this strange and completely unnecessary thing where whenever Estrada rides his motorcycle to evoke our fond memories of Chips, they have him drive past the worst green screen possible. There is no reason to do this except to make a bad film worse on purpose, and while I typically resent this kind of filmmaking especially for giving low budget schlock a bad name, I can't act like I didn't see it coming a mile away.

When we finally do get a good look at the creatures, we find what I can only assume is a very deliberate design choice whereupon the much feared Chupacabras resemble evil Taco Bell chihuahuas that attack on mass and with supernatural speed. Its not quite as much of a let-down as the pink spiders from Arachnoquake, if only because I wasn't as excited about seeing the Chupacabra realized as I was about the prospect of giant spiders, and by the time it sinks in that this is the monster we're supposed to find threatening, the underwhelming nature of the entire production has already become so apparent that the silly reveal just washes over you.

We don't actually get to the Alamo until maybe the last fifteen minutes or so of the film, and for the longest time I thought the title referred to Estrada's character, who is noted to be a descendant of a famous hero from that battle. The location proves to be fairly arbitrary as the group of Chupa hunters find themselves holed up inside history's greatest failed attempt to hole yourself up in a place. And just for the record, that joke is mine, and not made at any point explicitly in the movie. The connection here is much more tenuous, as I assume the famous landmark was only used to make the point that two things associated with Mexico in some capacity have come together to fight somehow. That I'm putting more thought into this then the makers of the movie did is not lost on me.

And yet, for all its flaws, I have to say that Chupacabra Vs. The Alamo is much more watchable than it frankly has any right to be. While by no means a masterpiece, I must admit that even with my established bias against deliberately bad cinema, I couldn't help but ultimately give in to the sense of fun cultivated by the slap dash campy style. When a stoner flees a pack of the monsters and without any indication of what they are screams “We got Chupacabras up in here!” or later when Eric Estrada shotguns one of them in the face with a nonsensical “Chupa-this,” I can't really fault this thing for being stupid and silly. Or maybe I can, but enough of me doesn't want to that I'm not going to call this a total loss. Its not for everyone, but if you can forgive it its trespasses on common sense, you might just have some fun, even if its not one of the network's better efforts. 

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