I wanna say I was twelve when my mom bought our first DVD player. This would have been back in 2002ish when they came down in price so that normal people could buy them. Growing up, I was always one to two video game systems behind other kids. I was still rocking my SNES and my Sega long after my friends had upgraded to Playstation and N64. So, to be up to date with the latest movie watching technology was exciting for me. A funny thing I remember from the early days of DVD is that being able to switch between camera angles was used as a selling point for the medium, but I’ve yet to encounter this mystical multi-angle funtionality. Whatever happened with that?
The first DVDs that I ever picked out were Jason Goes to Hell and Troma’s Legend of the Chupacabra. To most of you, those may sound like bad choices. All I can say is they made sense to me. Jason Goes to Hell is a guilty pleasure of mine — heck, it’s probably my favorite Friday — and I’ve always been fascinated by unexplained phenomena. I can read about fringe topics like Bigfoot, lake monsters, out of place animals, ghosts, poltergeists, UFOs, alien abductions, time travel, parallel dimensions, astral projection, and shadow people for hours. A title like Legend of the Chupacabra plays right into my curiosity.
Now, in my defense, I had never heard the word “Troma” before. I’d never seen one of their movies. I wasn’t aware of how, well, disappointing they are. I’ve caught a few since, and they’re not my cup of tea. In my opinion, they try too hard to be silly and tasteless, and not hard enough to be good. They make me feel, I don’t know, hollow and blah when I watch them, like I’ve wasted a small piece of my life I can never get back. I assumed the Chupacabra movie I picked out that day was a documentary detailing the exploits of the Latin American goat sucker. What I got was a no-budget found footage mockumentary sloppily slapped together to leech a few bucks off The Blair Witch Project. Even the tagline is an obvious spoof. I didn’t make the connection back then, because, like I said, I was twelve and naive.
The plot goes like this: A female Cryptozoology student (FYI, Cryptozoology’s not really a major), a few of her classmates, and a tough guy “firearms expert” head to her dead uncle’s ranch in South Texas with cameras in tow when footage comes out that appears to show him being mangled by a Chupacabra. The group is set upon by the beast, which is explained to be some kind of a biologically engineered Government super weapon, a couple of brujas show up, and one dude’s intestines are literally sucked out of his mouth.
The bulk of the movie is bad but digestible. The main problem working against it is its rubbery creature suit. Suits like these were acceptable in the 1950s, but not at the turn of the millennium. The most appalling part is that they didn’t even try to conceal it or use it effectively. There are multiple full-body shots of the suit, and an overlong “autopsy” tacked on to the end.
I watched my purchase with friends and we all agreed it was bar none the worst piece of shit we had ever seen. From then on, it served as an almighty sort of measuring stick to which we compared other awful movies. Contenders came and went, but nothing ever dethroned it from its sacred seat on Bad Movie Mountain. Sitting through it turned into a rite of passage within our circle. Whenever we had a new person over, we’d force them to watch it while reading a book of bizarre penis pictures we’d drawn. Talk about a one-two punch. Our initiations were tough — like joining a street gang, but gayer. Only the strong survived.
It was an adolescence well spent. I’d post a few more of my drawings, but I’d hate to be hit with obscenity charges.
Midway through high school, my friends and I grew apart. That was forever ago. As the seasons changed and the years came and went, my opinion of the film softened up. I began to realize and respect that as bad as it is, it did provide me with steady doses of entertainment. The fact of the matter remains, though; I have watched hundreds — if not thousands — more cult, exploitation, and horror movies since then, and it’s hard to say any of them have been worse than Legend of the Chupacabra. It’s just not a good movie.
At one point, my copy started cracking. Like, the actual disc started cracking. Pieces broke off. I had to re-buy it. I think that speaks to the overall quality of it.
Funnily enough, the movie itself wasn’t all that affected me. The special features left a mark on me too. There are four trailers contained on the disc, one of them for a film called Unspeakable. The whole preview is NSFW, but two moments in particular burrowed into my brain and stayed in my thoughts all these years.
00:18s — A guy holds a knife up and headbutts it. He screams like he’s psyching himself up to do it.
01:35s — A male caretaker performs oral sex on a brain damaged woman who looks like she’s had a bunch of skin grafts done on her face. The woman just sits there and trembles. She has poop on her wheelchair and thighs. “Oh yuck, it’s all dirty and full of shit.” the guy bitches. Then, diving in with abandon, “AND IT’S MINE!”
I finally caught up with Unspeakable during a free trial of Amazon Prime and It didn’t do much for me. I guess it was kind of cathartic to come face to face with it all these years later, but in some ways I wish I hadn’t. The full version was a letdown, and now the mystique and hype I had built up is gone. This is definitely a case of a trailer being better than the actual film that it’s advertising.
There’s another trailer for an artsy looking vampire movie called Drawing Blood, but I haven’t tracked that one down. My favorite part is the song that it’s set to — “She’s Just 21” by the obscure 90s band Rural Swine. It’s got this muffled garage rocky sound that I love like the opening theme from Return to Sleepaway Camp. I’ve been throwing it on for my afternoon jogs.
The final two trailers are for Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV and something called Terror Firmer that has a bunch of boobs in it. As I’m sure you’re aware, discovering boobs in a coming attraction is like winning the lottery for a preteen. I don’t think I need to explain the inversely proportional relationship between tatas and the number of tissues I had in my house at that age.
Yeah. That about does it. What I’d like to know now that I’ve shared so much damning personal info is if you guys have seen any of these. What would you say is the worst movie ever, and do you have your own stories?