Best known for his role as California Highway Patrol Officer “Ponch” Poncherello during the 70s TV series “CHiPs,” actor Erik Estrada has been keeping busy over the last 20 years with a number of guest roles on TV. His latest is “Chupacabra vs. the Alamo,” an original TV movie that will air on the SyFy channel March 23 at 8pm. In the film, Estrada plays Carlos Seguin, an ex-DEA agent who rides a motorcycle, carries a shotgun and finds himself at the center of a battle in San Antonio, Texas with a pack of blood-sucking chupacabras. During an interview with me, Estrada, 64, talked about what movie scared him as a kid and how Ponch would’ve handled the chupacabra.
What kinds of horror/sci-fi films did you like growing up?
I liked all of them – the werewolf movies, the vampire movies. They were all fun to watch. The one that scared me the most was “The Exorcist” because of all the makeup and special effects. I think that scared everyone the most.
The legend of the chupacabra is fairly new when it comes to folklore. It only goes back to about 1995. Why do you think it’s been able to find a following with the likes of Bigfoot and La Llorona?
Well, because it a folklore tale that has spread all over from Puerto Rico to all of Latin America and the U.S. It’s another spin on an old song. Everything gets recycled in one way or another. It’s just a good story to make a good movie with a lot of drama and action and adventure.
How would Ponch do fighting against chupacabras?
I think he would kick their ass. He would tie them to his bike and drag them down the highway. He would smoke em’.
If the chupacabra was actually at the Battle of the Alamo back in 1836, which side would he have fought for?
He’d be with us Latinos.
You’re also promoting another movie called “Finding Faith.” Can you tell us about that?
Yeah, it’s a story about a young girl who posts a picture of herself on her smart phone and the bad guys come and take her away. It’s an issue I’ve been working with in real life as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force. I urge everyone to visit findingfaithfilm.com to learn more.