San Antonio filmmaker Rob Mabry makes feature debut with The Legend of El Chupacabra

The film will have its red-carpet premiere Friday, Oct. 20 at San Antonio's City Base Cinemas.

click to enlarge Rob Mabry worked with creature effects artist Sergio Guerra to design the film's Chupacabra. - Courtesy Photo / Rob Mabry
Courtesy Photo / Rob Mabry
Rob Mabry worked with creature effects artist Sergio Guerra to design the film's Chupacabra.

As a kid, storytelling always came naturally to San Antonio filmmaker Rob Mabry.

He ran around making movies with his father's Super 8 camera. He wrote comic books and screenplays. That love for writing continued as he grew up, and it led to a career as a journalist in the U.S. Army.

Today, Mabry is a software development director for a travel company. However, his passion for cinema never waned. About eight years ago, he began participating in San Antonio's 48 Hour Film Project and quickly became hooked.

After writing and directing a few shorts, Mabry has completed his first feature, The Legend of El Chupacabra, a horror-comedy centered on the legendary South Texas monster.

During an interview with the Current, Mabry, 56, talked about his desire to make a movie set in Texas and the kinds of comedy and horror movies that inspire him. He also discussed his work with local creature effects artist Sergio Guerra on the design of his film's Chupacabra.

The Legend of El Chupacabra will have its red-carpet premiere Friday, Oct. 20 at San Antonio's City Base Cinemas. To purchase tickets to the screening, visit

What was it about the Chupacabra that appealed to you as an idea for your first feature film?

I really wanted to do something that took place in Texas. The Chupacabra is this cryptid of South Texas. The whole film takes place in a fictitious town in the Hill Country. It was really important to me to have a Texas cast and crew. So, everybody is local. Almost everybody is from San Antonio. We let a few Austin people in.

What's your earliest memory of being scared of something you saw in a movie?

I would say it was The Wizard of Oz and the Wicked Witch. The Wizard of Oz is the first thing I had a nightmare about as a kid. I remember being paralyzed with fear. I was trying to scream for my parents. From more of a traditional horror film sense, my parents let me watch The Exorcist when I was really young. It was terrifying. Bad parenting. But I would say [The Legend of El Chupacabra] is far more a comedy than it is a horror film. It's more of a B-movie monster movie.

Did you grow up watching those kinds of B-movies?

Yeah, I grew up as a kid on a military base. Every Sunday, they'd have a matinee and they'd show lots of 1950s movies, even though it was the 1970s. I saw a lot of these kinds of monster movies. In the '80s, I watched things like Friday the 13th and the Freddy Krueger series. So, I have an appreciation for those too.

Who inspires your comedy writing?

Mel Brooks is a big influence on me. The humor of Airplane! always stuck with me. Monty Python was a big influence. I'm also a big fan of Steve Martin and the things he did in his early days like The Man with Two Brains and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

Why do you think horror and comedy go so well together?

I think jokes and scares are kind of similar. They both set the audience up for the punchline or for that jump scare. You know, I just enjoy parodying things. I think that's why I've been drawn to horror-comedy. I did make a short film about a serial killer who's too out of shape to catch anybody. It did well at festivals. For me, the ultimate goal is to make people laugh.

How did you decide what you wanted your Chupacabra to look like?

I left that in the hands of a really talented creature effects artist, Sergio Guerra. I wanted something that was going to be familiar to people who are familiar with the Chupacabra. There are a couple of versions that are common — the mangy coyote look and a version where the Chupacabra has spikes on its back and red eyes. [Sergio] put four different designs together, and then we refined it. I think we came up with something that feels very unique.

You know, a family-friendly Chupacabra movie called Chupa hit Netflix earlier this year.

(Laughs.) I was hoping to beat that one to the theater before it started streaming. I didn't want to ride its coattails. I actually haven't watched it yet. I told myself I wouldn't watch it until my movie was done. Unlike that movie, the Chupacabra we have would not make a great pet.

$12-$13, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, City Base Cinemas, 2623 SE Military Drive, (210) 531-3000,

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