Mexican Werewolf in Texas (2006)

Mexican Werewolf in Texas reviewStarring Erika Fay, Gabriel Gutierrez, Sara Erikson, Martine Hughes, Louie Cruz Beltran, Mark Halvorson

Directed by Scott Maginnis

First off, this movie has one of the most deceptively dumb titles in recent memory. Mexican Werewolf in Texas is not a werewolf movie. It is, however, another movie about the chupacabra, the Mexican “goatsucker” monster that’s become the stuff of modern urban legend. I understand how they can justify the title since one of the characters that will witness the beast in action initially describes the chupacabra as a werewolf. It’s not hard to understandable his mistake considering the chupacabra is traditionally described as a short reptilian creature with great leaping ability, but the movie’s chupacabra looks like a stubby mongoloid werewolf suffering from mange that crawls about on all fours like some sort of diseased dog. It’s not a bad costume but it is still very obviously a rubber monster suit and one that doesn’t quite fit the typical chupacabra description. To be honest, this movie could have said the monster was a werewolf instead of the chupacabra and it wouldn’t have much of any impact.

And for the life of me I do not understand why the DVD box art has “UNRATED DIRECTOR’S CUT” plastered at the top even though the movie itself wasn’t even as gory as many horror flicks I’ve seen that were just the ordinary R-rated version. Moving on…

Furlough, Texas: a tiny dustbowl of a Texas town near the Mexican border that proclaims itself to be the goat capitol of the world. According to our lead character, Anna, who the film casts as narrator, recounting the tale and introducing us to characters via voiceover, there are only three things to do in Furlough: get in fights, herd goats, and screw around in the desert. Nothing interesting ever happens in Furlough – until now. The chupacabra has crossed the border. Goats are turning up dead and soon people will follow. Police are dismissing the mysterious goat massacre as the work coyotes. The forensic investigator father of Anna’s boyfriend believes its something alright, just not coyotes. Maybe I missed something but I don’t recall the film ever giving an explanation as to what happened to the two teens that were never heard again after they got caught in the crossfire during the chupacabra goat slaughter scene.

Our core group of high school age characters are composed of young Anna, her computer geek boyfriend Miguel, her college-bound best friend Rosie, a big Mexican oaf named Tommy who’s only goal in life is to inherit his father’s goat farm, and Tommy’s blonde airhead girlfriend Jill who will remain remarkably cheerful even after he’s killed early on. On the adult side of things we’ll have Miguel’s investigator dad, Ana’s racist parents, a pair of comic relief dolts, and random townsfolk of both Caucasian and Mexican persuasion. Characters do one of four things in this movie: talk about the chupacabra, get attacked by the chupacabra, go hunting for the chupacabra (which often leads to getting attacked by the chupacabra), or, in the case of many a racist townsfolk, spout off about how much they don’t like the local Mexican population.

Racial overtones play a big part in the film’s story. When chupacabra rumors begin swirling amongst the townsfolk, much of the older Caucasian population hopes the chupacabra talk will scare a bunch of the local Mexican populace back across the border. Anna’s racist parents aren’t the least bit happy that their daughter is dating a Mexican even though Miguel barely looks Mexican and has no accent whatsoever. The inclusion of the racial angle could have really made things more interesting had the film had any interest in fully exploring it. Instead it’s just an excuse to set up Anna’s father brandishing a knife and donning a makeshift chupacabra costume intent on murdering Miguel and having his death blamed on the mysterious creature on the prowl. That part was more than a little hard to buy.

Mexican Werewolf in Texas gets off to great start with a high energy opening sequence that leads into the opening credits with a kitschy punk rock theme song about the chupacabra. A pity the movie could never quite live up to the energetic opening. Writer/director Scott Maginnis deserves credit for trying to make a more character based monster movie. He attempts to make the characters colorful and the dialogue crisper than the usual spiel for movies of this type, but Mexican Werewolf in Texas can’t help from falling into the usual doldrums that plague this type of movie. Just because the characters have personality doesn’t make them interesting. Unfortunately, I found this creature feature to be as dry as the dustbowl it’s set in.

But while Maginnis set out to try and make the characters three-dimensional, he didn’t seem to have any interest in making the monster interesting. I’ve always said that when the monster in a monster movie fails to capture the imagination or fails to come across as the least bit menacing then you don’t have much of a monster movie. The “Mexican Werewolf” here just shows up at random wherever and whenever the script deems it convenient, attacks or kills someone, then vanishes into thin air. It displays no personality other than just that of a typical wild animal and no effort is made to delve into it as anything other than just a means to an end. Also, the overuse of rapid-fire editing and handheld shaky camera work that makes following along with some of the action a chore. The movie doesn’t have a scary bone in it’s body, but I do give it credit for having a few decent B-monster movie moments along the way, particularly during the last twenty minutes.

It kind of pains me to pan Mexican Werewolf in Texas because despite the many negatives I really did get a sense that writer/director Scott Maginnis was trying to make a good movie and not just the typical no budget dreck of no redeeming value that’s constantly littering DVD shelves. He tries, it succeeds only in brief spurts, but the movie as a whole never clicks. A noble effort, but not one I can endorse.

2 out of 5

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Jon Condit