Friday, May 13, 2011

Bloodthirst: Legend of the Chupacabra – review

Director: Jonathan Mumm

Release date: 2003

Contains spoilers

You know what, with a title like that I guess it was fairly obvious what I was going to be watching as I settled down to review Bloodthirst: Legend of the Chupacabras. To be fair it wasn’t the best put together no-budget horror film but it tried.

It tried to bring in a wide vista of stories, and tie them together. Did it succeed? No, the stories were too diverse leaving the large range of characters feeling cold and empty, mainly because there wasn’t truly the scripting or acting to carry them off. However it did have a nice story idea, as well as some very silly ones, and I found myself enjoying the film more than I really should have.

It starts with a little legend regarding the chupacabra and then we cut to a ranch. It is clear from the first shot that this is a cheap-end digi-cam film however, to be fair, they did use boom mikes and thus captured all the dialogue. We know this because we kept seeing them! Anyway, the three kids are playing monster and run into the house – to be sent out again by mom as she makes dinner. Twilight comes and mom hears a scream. She finds the son led out but he is playing dead, part of their game. She hurries them inside but is spooked. She opens a curtain, once in the kitchen, and screams…

Randy and Linda
In town Randy (Dan Leis) is fixing his car. In the house his mom, Terry, argues with their landlord Eddie. She wants more time to pay the rent – she’s waiting for a check from her husband (it wasn’t clear if he was ex or not). Eventually Randy has had enough and kicks Eddie out – saying he’ll have his money by Saturday. Now the film cuts away here but I want to keep the various stories in some sort of order. Eddie leaves in his car, supping on a bottle of Jack. He drops it and something – the chupacabra – gets him from the back seat, he crashes. Now, we see the chupacabra as a flash – I’ll look at it in more depth later – but we should note that Eddie's death, and the impact this will have on debts owed, is never mentioned again.

Jonathon Mumm as Kurt
In a bar the music is provided by Sue (Roberta Mumm). She has a couple of admirers. Kurt (Jonathan Mumm) stands at the bar and the wonderfully named DudsDuds Malcolm (Hugh McChord) is drunk, leery and tries to force himself on her. Kurt rescues her and throws Malcolm out. She heads off home, refusing an escort. Kurt, talking to waitress Linda (Rachel Sense), says he is a prospector looking for the goat mine – she knows a man who has a map. Sue, meanwhile, is assaulted by Malcolm but then something attacks (and kills) him.

Sandra at the murder scene
In the newspaper office all the guys are taking the mickey out of Sandra (Elaine Benoit) as she gets non-stories and their boss, Gilbert (Gil Sebastian), is her husband. She talks to Gilbert and demands a real story – she is sent out to the ranch. Out there the goat herd has been ripped apart and the kids tell her about Chupacabra – suggesting a gypsy woman, the Mago (Lenore Sebastian), will know more. She is called by Gilbert and sent to cover the murder (of Malcolm) near the bar as reporter Pete (Kevin Hale) has quit. Pete is actually at the scene (he moved to a rival paper) as is the Mago – who starts talking chapacabra and suggests meeting Sandra the next day.

Loren Taylor as Grandpa Charles
We also meet Grandpa Charles (Loren Taylor). Once a professor, and still Randy’s grandfather, he is now a drunk. He came to prominence when he stopped a series of killings by the Mamoka Vampire but he is convinced he failed and that the vampire has gone into hiding until he dies. He has the map to the goat mine – which Randy will steal to sell, in order to pay the rent – as that was, allegedly, the vampire’s lair.

Through the night there is another attack, on a rancher and his wife, by the chupacabra. It is a bad cgi monster but we see it very briefly and, as such, can live with the poor cgi. Similarly, in the car earlier, it had a rubber hand but the flashes of it were so fast that it didn’t overly matter. It was clear the filmmakers were aware of the restrictions of budget and tried not to show the monster as much as possible.

Lenore Sebastian as the Mago
When Sandra meets the Mago she is told about Chapacabra. Mago suggests that some people believe that it is an extra-terrestrial – not a visitor but rather the pet of a visitor that was left behind. She suggests that it can shift shape and then also suggests that it is a vampire of sorts and perhaps the Vampire Hunter (Grandpa Charles) should be contacted. That night we discover that the (human) victims of the chupacabra will raise as vampire drones, hunting and doing its bidding and passing the taint on.

the amphibian duck
Phew… as you can see they tried to cram a lot of story into the film – kudos for that – but perhaps their ambition was a bit too great. Some storylines fizzled out, others were crammed into a conclusion and the actors, bless them, had a lot to do and perhaps not the experience to carry it off. I mentioned errant mikes but should also mention the amphibian duck, a vehicle clearly used simply because they had access to it and thought it was cool but ultimately it was a bit pointless.

The musical choices were also, perhaps, not the wisest. The newspaper reporters had a comedy anthem that was awful and there was some very bad suspenseful synth going on. There is a twist at the end (involving hypnosis) that was rubbish because the entire expedition had witnessed the hypnosis and would have cried foul. The vampires, incidentally, are killed by killing the chupacabra and go up in balls of light, which were a cheap effect but okay in the grand scheme of things.

This had, however, heart. It is not a great movie but I actually enjoyed watching it for all that. However, it ultimately only deserves 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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