Chupacabra: Dark Seas (2005)

Chupacabra: Dark Seas (2005)

This legend is real.

Cryptozoologist Dr Peña has been hunting the legendary Chupacabra for years. So when he finally traps one on a remote Caribbean island, his name in the scientific community will be assured for decades to come. He smuggles the creature aboard a cruise ship but when some nosey workmen open the crate inside the cargo hold, the Chupacabra breaks loose and begins to kill the crew and passengers.

 

The Sci-Fi Channel pillages another monster to add to their never-ending collection of creature feature films, this time bringing to life the legend of the Chupacabra in a throwaway flick which ranks up there with their usual output. So for those not familiar with the Sci-Fi Channel’s endless supply of low budget creature feature films, they’ve brought to life all manner of CGI terrors including giant squids, snakehead fish, the Loch Ness Monster, dragons and the usual suspects of sharks, spiders and snakes. Given life in insipid, soul-destroying fashion, the bulk of these films contain one or two ‘named’ actors from bigger and better films, scripts which all play out the same way, terrible special effects and are about as exciting as a blank piece of paper. No surprise to find out that Chupacabra: Dark Seas is another one in the time-honoured tradition, equally as inept as the previous one and no doubt just as mind-numbingly predictable as the next twenty or so.

Think of something like Deep Rising without the humour and you’ll be getting close to Chupacabra: Dark Seas. The ‘plot’ is paper thin and basically consists of the creature being released onto the ship as soon as is humanly possible so that it can then munch it’s way across the crew and passengers. And that’s it in a nutshell. There are some vaguely sketched sub-plots involving a thief on the ship and the even more vague attempts to create some sort of romantic interest between the captain’s daughter and an undercover agent aboard. Not least the necessity for the film to contain some form of human villain (as if a ravenous Chupacabra wasn’t enough) as Dr Pena walks straight into cliché mode by attempting to capture the creature alive instead of killing it. If you can’t guess what happens to him, then you really have no business watching horror films!

Being original isn’t high on this film’s priorities as it churns out cliché after cliché with reckless abandon. There’s no comedy involved and you get the feeling that things may have been a little more bearable had someone decided to throw in some proper jokes or some light-hearted winking to the audience. Everyone plays it straight and then struggles to get into the one-dimensional roles they’ve been given. John Rhys-Davies is shoe-horned into a pointless role as the captain and, despite adding a touch of class to proceedings, he hardly gets anything meaningful to do except bark out orders to other people. Dylan Neal is the hero of the piece and Chelan Simmons plays the role of the captain’s daughter. There are a couple of very half-assed attempts to spark some sort of chemistry between them but there’s nothing coming of it. Giancarlo Esposito struggles with about five different accents trying to bring to life the character of Dr Pena and fails on every level.

Chupacabra: Dark Seas has production values which are shoddy and very low budget, perhaps some of the worst I’ve seen from Sci-Fi. The cruise ship seems to consist of the same room and corridor, all shot from different angles to give the impression that you’re looking at something new. You never really get the sense that these characters are actually on board a cruise ship and the terribly-rendered CGI shots of the ship will not do much to change your mind on that point. Thankfully, and in what seems like a first for the Sci-Fi Channel, some money seems to have spent on a realistic monster. The Chupacabra is a guy in a suit for the most, save for some dodgy CGI when it decides to scurry across the ceiling. But there’s a nice physical menace to the monster which is sorely lacking in other Sci-Fi creature features and the suit looks decent, with a suitably scary face. It does get plenty of screen time and it doesn’t disappoint in that sense. When it attacks, it attacks with brutality and the kills are gory and regular enough to keep things ticking over nicely.

Unfortunately after laying waste to most of the crew and some passengers during the opening half, the captain decides to evacuate the ship and the list of potential victims is dramatically cut short leaving the film struggling to keep any sort of momentum during the second half. It’s just the same routine of the remaining characters slowly plodding around the ship looking for the creature, stumble upon it which leads to the loss of one of the characters and then the survivors must go off and find it again.

 

Chupacabra: Dark Seas contains some alright moments but it’s not nearly enough to have to sit through yet another bargain basement creature feature from the Sci-Fi Channel. With an appalling script which goes through the motions from the opening scene right up until the end credits, even the decent make-up effects can’t save this mess.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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