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John’s Horror Corner: C. H. U. D. (1984), cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers

March 16, 2014

MY CALL:  This throwback is slow-paced (until the fun-filled third act), not at all scary, and doesn’t pack a particularly gory punch, but it is fun and cheesy nonetheless and should be on every horror fan’s list.  MOVIES LIKE C. H. U. D.Return of the Living Dead (1985) and Alligator (1980).

This “it came from the 80s” classic presented the notion that we have more to fear than the shallow gene pools of Wrong Turn hillbillies from generations of inbreeding and the nuclear fallout-malformed denizens of The Hills Have Eyes.  Here, we explore the fear of man’s impact on the planet with toxic waste-mutated monsters.

Homeless people are disappearing from the streets of New York City…so what exactly seems to be the problem?  This would typically go entirely unnoticed and uninvestigated as local politicians high-five this inexplicable victory.  However, when a local soup kitchen owner (Daniel Stern; Leviathan) reports that his dining hall has been a few vagrants short the police seem to drop everything to investigate these missing homeless people.  Seems legit.

Bored with working on perfume commercial campaigns with his oft-half-naked model girlfriend, somehow a photographer (John Heard; Cat People) gets involved in investigating these hobo disappearances.  Well that makes perfect sense.  I can see how a successful, model-dating photographer would want to put his life on hold to go spelunking the feces-painted corridors of New York’s sewer system with a crusty bag lady.

It turns out that our missing hobos have come into contact with a toxic waste gas leak and subsequently mutated into cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers instead of the more fun Ninja Turtle alternative.

Why do their eyes glow?

Our cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers have glowing eyes and look like slimy, skinned Lord of the Rings orcs under Sauron’s command.  The effects are decent for the time and will certainly bring about some chuckles.  The mutants’ claws are clearly rubber monster gloves in lieu of more detail-oriented latex work.  As campy as that may sound, this movie maintains a straight face and never verges on “deliberate” campiness.  Doing so with no satirical allegory whatsoever, this movie pays more attention to the investigation and cover-up of the C. H. U. D. than it does on the monsters themselves.  As such, you may notice that you see much less of the monsters than you’d prefer.  It’s cheesiness is found in its poker face.

Speaking of campy, for no reason at all this CHUD’s neck elongates before our eyes as if in honor of the Evil Dead-possessed Henrietta.

The first hour of this movie is pretty slow.  But in the third act we finally see regular doses of gore and CHUD screen time.  Despite a slow start, I think this movie is worth it.  It’s no founding father of horror tropes by any means, but today’s fans of horror should log it into their repertoire nonetheless.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2014 3:41 pm

    This was great to see as I scrolled down my newsfeed! CHUD is a “joke” film which we watched in my film studies group, the final act as you stated is just brilliant!

  2. johnleavengood permalink
    March 16, 2014 3:44 pm

    Wait, I have to know… What discussion did you have about it in your film studies group? Was there a legitimate analysis of the film? LOL

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  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix

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