Thursday, December 28, 2017

Goatsucker – review

Director: Steve Hudgins

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

Whilst there are certainly quite a few films about el chupacabra – the goatsucker – I think this is the first that uses the English version of the name as its title. Now, regular readers will know that I will sometimes move into ‘Vamp or Not?’ territory as the chupacabra can fall out of Latin vampire-creature and into simple creature feature.

In this case there will have to be a massive spoiler but I think we are about right to review with the caveat that there is a were-creature aspect as well that (maybe unknowingly) almost swings back into the traditional crossover between were and vamp. It is also incredibly low budgeted.

poor hide and seek skills
So, starting in a forest and we get movement and then a woman (Megan Jones) running through the woods, pursued by an unseen something. She gets to what looks like a shed (but is named as a shack later) and has the keys to open a padlock but just can’t do it as the POV something corners the shed. Ignoring the box of firewood (or handy weapons to you and I) she hides around the back of the shed with Olympic standard “hide and Seek” prowess (not). Unsurprisingly the POV creature (ok, we all know it’s the goatsucker) finds her… claw… blood…

must be a scientist?
A guy, Huck (Steve Hudgins, The Caretakers), is in his truck. He sees something in the woods and tries to film it. Driving on he hits something… CUT... A woman in a lab coat (so she must be a scientist, right?) tells us about the goatsucker. Later we discover that she is not a scientist but an actress and the piece is an advert for Hidden Valley Hiking Tours. The idea communicated by the 'expert' that the chupacabra had its origins in medieval Europe was fascinatingly weird and not expanded on.

Jack Jones as Brad
The Hiking company has a goatsucker tour and driver Brad (Jack Jones) has come to take the latest group up to the trail. The mixed bunch are Eugene (Neil Vowels, also the Caretakers), Wayne (Randy Hardesty, also the Caretakers), Pam (Marsha Cash), Alan (Brandon Schaefer) and Rhonda (Emily Fitzmaurice). The group of strangers have more interconnections than they might think – obvious and early reveal is that ditsy Rhonda (she who believes they are on a goat-muncher tour) is obsessed with Alan, who was there to get away with her after getting bored of her. The little interpersonal subplots was one of the things that kept the film interesting.

Eugene and Rhonda
Brad drives them to meet the tour guide – Margaret (who was the girl at the head of the film, so she ain’t showing). Luckily fellow guide Heidi (Kim Welsh) happens along (it’s her day off) and is told (by radio) to take the tour or lose her job. Of course, something is out there and the scam tour is actually going to stumble over the real goatsucker. Also in the mix is Cassy (Amanda Stone) whose boyfriend was dragged off by the goatsucker and who has sworn revenge.

a flash of face
The film is low budget and so pretty much keeps the goatsucker out of view. We do see the odd claw, a flash of teeth and a figure behind a tree that is clearly someone in a silver suit. At one point we get a flash of silvered face that brings an alien to mind. Yet despite the low budget and being pretty much full of holes and deus ex moments, it is in fact quite entertaining. This probably comes down to the fact that Hudgins keeps the subplots coming fast and thick. The cast help also. Whilst none of the performances are stellar, they are all pretty darn enthusiastic and having good fun - Marsha Cash particularly seems to be having a blast.

teeth close-up
Now I said there was going to be a massive spoiler and there is – though I won’t reveal who is the goatsucker, one of our cast is. In this the goatsucker is a creature (other species, possibly) who takes on a human form. They become their monstrous self with a kiss and must drink human female blood to take on human form again. It is a riff on the idea of a were-creature but with a blood aspect. The goatsucker’s actions are remembered (and relished it appears) when back in human form and the creature chooses to turn back (by using the correct catalyst deliberately).

So, unusual lore and cast having a blast but low budget issues all the way through. However this wasn’t the worst way I have spent 85 minutes. 4 out of 10 – one recommended for those who like their movies very much B.

The imdb page is here.

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