C.H.U.D. (1984)

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C.H.U.D. (1984)

Post  BoG on Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:29 pm

You read that right: C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller. When I visited New York City about 25 years ago, I thought I sensed something strange beneath the pavement. Luckily, I didn't investigate. This is a warped look at the homeless situation, some of whom are known as 'underground dwellers.' They live in the cave-like structures underneath the streets. Some of them have taken a turn for the worse due to nasty radioactivity and the usual government cover-up
(the government has labeled this 'problem' as C.H.U.D., btw).

John Heard plays the local photographer gone-to-seed; he's familiar with some of the homeless people. Kim Griest is his girlfriend, just learning that she's pregnant. Daniel Stern runs the local soup kitchen. Christopher Curry is the local cop who lost his wife to one of the C.H.U.D. in the pre-credits scene. JC Quinn plays the local snoopy reporter. Eddie Jones is Chief of Police. There are also a couple of government men, one of whom turns out to be the ultimate jerk cover-up guy. I guess the point here is that if only homeless people were disappearing, no one would even notice that there's something creepy in the sewers; but, the disappearances have extended to other citizens.

Some of this reminded me of Q-The Winged Serpent - the scenes of Heard & Stern arguing with the establishment, trying to uncover the conspiracy. Stern, especially, reminded me of Michael Moriarty in Q - the quirky loser in the middle of a monster movie. Stern - and most of the cast - has this grungy, unkempt appearance, suggesting that everything here is in decay; the underground mutates are only the most extreme sample of where everything is headed.

A few well-known character actors appear here in early, brief roles. Watch for John Goodman and Jay Thomas in one scene as cops. Graham Beckel (The Paper Chase; L.A.Confidential) shows up as a disturbed homeless bum who shudders so violently I thought he was gonna fall apart. I think this has a mild cult following; many think it's among the worst monster films but a few admire the attempt to be off-the-wall.
I have to admit, though it looks extra low-budget usually, it also has a strangely charming atmosphere (very strange, however, and sometimes gross & bloody). BoG's Score: 4 out of 10

The DVD has audio commentary by the principal cast & director; they crack wise during the whole film and it's pretty funny.
CHUD TRIV: There was a sequel, CHUD II Bud the Chud (1989) which I have not seen.

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