Wednesday, February 4, 2009
While I was one years old, movie executives decided to green light a horror movie about mutants underground. The film came out in 1984, and was named C.H.U.D. CHUD, as it is known, stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller and with a title and premise that comes along with this type of film, you would think you'd be in for a good gorey mess. NOPE! So today, I present for your reading pleasure, a review of the 1984 C.H.U.D directed by Douglas Cheek (relatively unknown) and starring John Heard and Daniel Stern.
The movie opens up with a woman walking her dog, and as she passes by a manhole a mutated arm comes out and grabs her! This opens up the movie and presents a good overall initial punch. The premise revolves around investigators looking into a lot of new reports of missing people. Along the way we discover that there are mutants living under the streets of New York and they are now starting to come to the surface. You would think that CHUD would create an interesting premise and good overall movie, but nope, nope, we get a a long winded film, that has some interesting scary moments, but loses its steam in the latter portions of the film.
Here is a trailer for Chud:
First and foremost, I didn't like the fact that there wasn't a lot of gore in this film. par to fthe title of the film stands for "cannibalistic" and therefore you would think you'd see more eating of flesh. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the biggest fan of cannibal films, but if you're going to sell me a movie with the first letter of the acronym standing for "cannibalistic" you gotta deliver on some gore. There are portions of gore, but overall there's no real sign of cannibalism, even though they show a little here and there, you don't really get a full throttle flesh eating example. I'm not convinced, and that definitely took away from the overall theme of the film.
There is a lot of investigation and slow moving plot sequences to the final "fight" if you well. The movie really isn't too fast nor is it too fast in the way it is dealing with the story. There are a lot of scenes of discussion about the idea of CHUD rather than seeing CHUD showing up and taking people left and right. The characters in this film act as though, they are in an episode of Law & Order rather than in a straight forward horror film. Yes, the film is old. But it's not that old, nor does it warrant the slow pacing that comes through in this film. We're talking about 1984, not 1964, there is no need for a lot of the films scenes, and really provides no way of building tension. The tension doesn't even arise until the third act, and that is done through music not the actual sequence of events.
Is CHUD scary?: There's not definitive answer to that question. Usually there are clear cut themes that I can go to in regards to horror films, but not for CHUD. Can CHUD be viewed as scary? Yes. The idea that homeless people living underground can turn into zombies, is scary. But that's not the scariest part. The scariest part of CHUD is the way that the law enforcement and city agencies deal with problem. They plan on nearly causing the whole city of New York to blow up by reverting gas lines towards the underground causing asphyxiation to occur to the CHUD army.
Even now, it seems that government agencies are more scared about this "recession" that America is in, rather than a biological terror. Sure, we're not going to get a zombie uprising straight up, but it seems like governments around the world mirror the way the actions that are shown in CHUD.
CHUD isn't super scary. Sure it's creepy to think that there are radioactive people underground that will crawl out and start eating everyone, but that's not what we see in CHUD. We do not see an army of CHUD's we do not see more than maybe three at once. If the whole city (New York) is really worried about 3 CHUD's running around, then we have bigger problems to worry about. CHUD is not the greatest horror movie to come out of the 80's but it's a cult classic at this point. I recommending seeing CHUD at least once, just to say that you've seen it, but it's not essential viewing. I saw the CHUD Special Edition dvd, and it's forgettable, but it's part of the big collection, so I guess CHUD wins again. It's not that great, not that scary and not necessarily going to haunt your nightmares.
Oh and just when you thought this film was trash or a throwaway. This film spawned a sequel, CHUD 2! Here's the movie poster for CHUD 2:
Also, if you recall the episode of the Simpsons where Homer recalls his visit to New York,Homer says "...and that's when the C.H.U.D.s came at me." and Marge responds: "Of course you'll have a bad impression of New York if you only focus on the pimps and the C.H.U.D.s." So maybe it's not so bad afterall.
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