Friday, April 25, 2008
It Came From Forgotten Filmography Fridays 6
A Mexican Werewolf in Texas (dir. Scott Maginnnis, 2005)
“It’s Hunger Knows No Bounds!”
or “Terror has just crossed the border!”
or “Dey took our joooobs!”
Synopsis: A chupacabra terrorizes a goat-rich Texas border town of Furlogh.
Or, from the back of the DVD box, “Anna and her bored high school friends band together and plot their escape from their suffocating little Texas border town AKA ‘Goat Capitol of the World’ until, a savage attacker preys on the inhabitants - first the goats, then the humans. The local, half-witted cops think it’s a coyote, but Anna and her friends believe the murders are the signature killings of the legendary Latin American urban myth – “El Chupacabra,” or Mexican Werewolf!”
I would like to begin today’s review discussing a movie I mentioned in passing: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. In interviews, screenwriter Paul Dehn claimed that his inspiration for the ape uprising was the Watt’s riots of the ‘70s. Clearly, the contemporary “immigration ‘crisis’” is an issue for A Mexican Werewolf in Texas. Before even watching the film, I imagine this Mexican Werewolf has snuck over to take maimings away from the lazy gringo Werewolves (and willing to do it for drastically less pay.)
I would like to bring up one major point before we go any further: El Chupacabra is not a werewolf, and is rarely describing in accounts as having wolf-like features at all. Calling it a “Mexican Werewolf” is, frankly, bizarre (it’d almost be like calling Bigfoot “American Yeti.”) Also, the DVD box claims the town of Furlogh as the “Goat Capitol of the World.” Two word definitions.
Capital: A city that is the center of a specified activity.
Ex. Castroville, CA claims to be the Artichoke Capital of the World.
Capitol: A building or group of buildings in which state legislature meets and where other state government offices may be houses.
Ex. The legislature had a long meeting at the capitol.
So, unless these goats are holding state legislature meetings, and on a global level, it is not the Goat Capitol of the World, but the Goat Capital of the World. Sorry, I just found it irritating. They also misprint this on the sign in the movie itself. Which is unfortunate.
Also, I would have just as readily watched a movie entitled El Chupacabra over Mexican Werewolf.
This movie is not just bizarre, it’s award-winningly so. It won four awards at the Festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and the Supernatural in Las Vegas. Best Picture, Best Screen Story, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Monster Make-Up Effects. In short, it’s almost like the Mexican Werewolf equivalent of No County for Old Men.
I was, to be honest, expecting this movie to be a lot worse, which is perhaps why I was able to enjoy it. Before that, I’ll get into the bad: The special effects are awful (take a look at the guy in the chupacabra costume in that earlier clip. Or here:)
The gore isn’t as awful, but because of the next problem looks less impressive and more like a shiny mess. The film’s entire lighting budget appeared to be “natural lighting and three flashlights,” which made all the nighttime location shots more confusing than frightening. All of the acting is pretty wooden. They also reuse the one same shot for the Chupacabra’s POV in multiple scenes which, although thrifty, becomes pretty noticeable (he goes left, right, then starts to go left again, stops, and goes right.)
Now, the good. This was not as awful as I was expecting it to be. The script, despite some problems (a few scenes I could definitely cut, but at 88 minutes I think they were trying to fatten it up as much as possible,) was good. The characterization and plotting are all passable, and the film is very genre-savvy. The direction and camerawork is actually pretty decent, there are some interesting camera angles and compositions (the scene with the uncle in the hospital, for example.)
The story is about Anna Furlough (whose family the town is after) struggling to escape from the redneck border town and “Goat Capitol” she inhabits. Everyone in this film is a pretty crude stereotype, both the rednecks and the Mexicans. At least they are consistent.
Of course, everything’s turned upside down by the invasion of La Chupacabra. If you’ve seen any monster movie you can fill in the blanks: the sheriff doesn’t believe in it, the adults are mostly baffled as it kills the goats. Then it gains a taste for human flesh. Sort of. It’s complicated and I don’t want to spoil it.
The first 45 or so minutes (the first 3 attacks or so) flow well, but it started to drag for the second half as everything resolved itself.
My favorite scene, which made little to no sense, involved Anna’s father, furious that his daughter was dating a Mexican, dressing up like the chupacabra and going to attack her boyfriend after hearing his plans to stalk and shoot the beast. Maybe the best plan would involve not disguising yourself as something somebody’s looking out to shoot. The costume he made out of hides looked almost as good as the one the crew threw together.
I didn’t necessarily think this film was awesome or incredible by any means, but it was a fun schlocky horror fest. And it was not cringe-worthy, for sure. Monster movie fans check it out. C+.
Finally, I would like to show you this review I found on YouTube. Besides incorrectly assuming this to be a sequel to John Landis’ classic An American Werewolf in London, this guy is, well, an idiot. But a hilarious idiot: