Chupacabra Territory [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Maltauro Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (16th April 2017).
The Film

Three men and a woman traveled into the Pinewood Forest in search of the Chupacabra and were never heard from again. Although there bodies were never discovered, they were declared dead after their cameras were found by the FBI and the footage made available through the Freedom of Information Act. Noting the population spike in coyotes as an "indicator species," amateur cryptozoologist Amber (Sins of Dracula's Sarah Nicklin), horny guide Joe (The Inhabitants' Michael Reed), cameraman Dave (Bryant Jansen), and "douche balloon" Morgan (Alex Hayek) head off to the woods. Finding the nearby town of Lake Emerald virtually deserted apart from a one-eyed gas station owner (Zombex's Pierre Kennel) who shows them the latest of the Chupacabra's animal mutilations, they are more convinced than ever that they are on the right track. When a forest ranger (Elliot Book) bars their entrance, they sneak in on foot and set up camp without reception for their phones or GPS. While dodging the ranger and a mysterious biologist (Never Open the Door's Mike Wood) who seems to be doing more than collecting samples, the quartet come across another group of cameras, nubile Tiff (The Haunting of Alice D's Julianne Tura) and Ally (The Crazies' Megan Hensley) who, along with horndog Fred (Watch Out's Jeff Dylan Graham), are searching for their friend Bobby who got drunk and disappeared the night before. Although they quickly come across large hoof prints and slaughtered animals with puncture wounds, the quartet are not content to make patient and methodical scientific observations. Instead, Amber draws on a book of spells bound in Chupcabara skin to summon the beast. After Morgan is spattered with Chupacabra digestive residue which like the bite of a komodo dragon can cause not only sepsis but make the victim into a vessel for the Chupacabra, the other three watch him closely; but the Chupacabra appears to already have more than enough vessels as other wanderers into the forest (conveniently toting cameras to document their terror) begin to disappear.

Although the legend of the Chupacabra has not been mined as much for horror movie exploitation as other urban legends and cryptid creatures perhaps because its nickname "The Mexican Goatsucker" sounds so silly much less in the found footage genre, Chupacabra Territory does very little of novel value with the concept. Urban legend hunters descend upon the forest with a mixture of obsessiveness, levity, and overall obnoxiousness, other characters are victim fodder for the first half while the central quartet will invariably be taken out during the climax (with more than one dragged away from their camera into darkness). Details are picked up by the cameras that go unnoticed by the operators, strange noises terrorize the campers by night, and they subsequently stretch credibility in search of logical explanations for increasingly dire happenings. When all else fails, the film adopts a quirkiness with Amber's highly sexualized episodes of possession (and her need for "physical stimulation" from Joe to summon up energy to take on the beast) and the characters namecheck a previous production Bloody Bloody Bible Camp to comment on the slasher-esque situation. The idea of the woods becoming a space trap is no more better handled here than in the more healthily-budgeted Blair Witch remake and the few instances of gore rely largely on CGI and heaping animal intestines on the midsections of victims (the photo montage during the ending credits offers up more disturbing-looking mutilated victims as well as a couple of collage bits that make for more unsettling renderings of Chupacabra possession than seen in the film). Acting is all over the place with Nicklin and Reed the most consistent and Hayek particularly bad in a scene where his fanciful and dramatic account of a Chupacabra attack is intercut with the real thing which can be just as much attributed to inexperience as the script's dialogue with lines like "Soon they will lose all their genitalia to this vicious creature!"


Whereas Maltauro Entertainment's previous Blu-ray of Never Open the Door utilized the MPEG-2 codec, the company has sprung for a 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 encode for this film. Photographed with more than one model of cameras in sometimes underlit night exteriors, the encode looks quite good in well-exposed shots and appropriately noisy in others (particularly the frenetic climax) as fitting the "found footage" aesthetic.


The sole audio option is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track that cleanly delivers dialogue, effects, as well as music during the closing credits. Optional English subtitles transcribe the dialogue fairly accurately apart from when the quip "Ensign Sherlock" becomes "Edison Sherlock" and referring to the Chupcabra as "cryptic" rather than a "cryptid."


Extras start off with an Interview with the Cast (10:44) in which the leads discuss what attracted them tot he project and try to invest their characters with more depth than apparent in the film itself. More interesting is the Interview with the Producer, Editor, and Director (6:23) in which producer Christopher Maltauro (Never Open the Door) recalls how the idea to shoot a found footage film about the legend of the Chupacabra came from writer/director Matt McWilliams who went camping in the Pacific Northwest and convinced his friends to pretend they were hunting the Chupacabra to shoot a sizzle reel to present to investors (footage of which is intercut with the interviews and at times seems better-acted than the feature). Editor Carlos Ramirez discusses the challenges of editing a found footage movie, having to sync up footage from five different cameras and with the director and actors trying sometimes wildly different readings from take to take. Also included is the trailer (1:43) and a photo gallery (4:18).


Although the legend of the Chupacabra has not been mined as much for horror movie exploitation as other urban legends and cryptid creatures, much less in the found footage genre, Chupacabra Territory does very little of novel value with the concept.


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