Guns of El Chupacabra II: The Unseen
Guns of El Chupacabra II: The Unseen is a loosely based prequel/sequel to GUNS OF EL CHUPACABRA. This film parallels Guns of El Chupacabra and peers into the lives and motives of some of the characters introduced in GUNS OF EL CHUPACABRA in a more definitive manner.
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If you are familiar with Shaw and Jackson's other efforts you no doubt know that they use no script and live off of improvisation from their actors. Direction is minimal and everything is edited into a movie after the location material is filmed. I would love to watch them at work (seriously) as I can't begin to fathom how this is supposed to function in practice, but the results are always amazing to look at and only superficially resemble a movie in any conventional sense.
As an aficionado of cult, camp, and bizarre cinema I am intrigued by Shaw and Jackson. I am unsure if this was the film they thought they were going to make of not, though the interviews seem to indicate that they are very happy with it (I love the talk of a line of action figures and a spinoff television show!) Let me start by saying that the film is essentially impossible to rate. As a conventionally "good" movie, it deserves a single star or less, but it is in more positive territory for cult cinema and "bad movie" fans such as myself. The downfall of the film is that it seems to take itself seriously (really, it's hard to know,) and epically fails as horror, science fiction, or humor, a genre you may conclude it falls into after you see the performance from Joe Estevez as "Rocket Ranger Dan Danger." I settled on two stars as it's clearly not a good movie, and it's not even representative of the positives embodied in other Zen filmmaking movies like the comparatively good "Toad Warrior" efforts. ("Comparatively" is a key word here.)
The first problem is getting your DVD to play. This can be tricky as the menu is virtually nonexistent, and on some DVD players or computers you will need to mess about with various options on your individual player to play it (I finally played mine on a laptop PC accessing it from the "root menu" option.) Don't be discouraged. After you get it to play 55 minutes (or so) of pure cinematic treasure (or trash, depending on your perspective) await you.
It's hard to summarize the film, but here's a quick take. It starts with Jackson and Shaw being interviewed about their filmmaking process. High-minded answers are edited in with various short snippets of things, including the hilarious chupacabra (often seen in silhouette.) A favorite moment of mine was hearing Jackson say that he felt this movie compared to The Who's "Tommy." Shaw favorite Robert Z'Dar is back and his face fills the screen as Z-Man Lord Invader, the intergalactic villain who has a 38 Centon bounty on his head. Z-Man is (somehow) behind all the chupacabra attacks, and Scott Shaw is Space Sheriff Jack B. Quick (this in combination with the ludicrous costume Joe Estevez wears throughout make me think it's got to be a comedy) who is out to stop Z-Man's evil schemes. That concludes my coverage of the lucid part of the movie. Filling out the rest of the movie is a highly annoying female paranormal reporter complete with that adornment all professional on-camera journalists have, a nose piercing. She interviews bounty hunters in a never-ending dialogue that will numb your brain; areas covered include how chupacabras are like mutant kangaroos with wings like bats that were spawned from toxic waste dumps (the chupacabras shown seemingly have no wings and do not seem to be marsupials to the best of my ability to discern.) Also covered are dog deaths and foot odor problems. Interspersed with this is footage of the love throes of two Mexican wrestlers and some provocative footage of Julie Strain that is seemingly included only to titillate. Capping it off is an original soundtrack tune that has some of the worst lyrics I have ever heard.
This film is a mess, and I don't recommend it for general viewers. Having said that, it is a stunning chapter in the Zen filmmaking school, and if you are a fan of Shaw and Jackson it's a must see. Anyone seriously interested in independent, outsider, cult, or "bad" movies should see "Guns of El Chupacabra 2." it is wholly unpredictable and uncategorizable.
If it's nothing else it is absolutely astonishing.