C.H.U.D. – Blu-ray review
Director: Douglas Cheek
Stars: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
C.H.U.D. Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Even if you’ve never seen this movie, you know that. This is one of those classic 80s flicks that has become part of the popular zeitgeist. Now it has gotten the super-duper-deluxe Blu-ray treatment by the always awesome Arrow Video. If you already know and love this flick, then that’s all you’ve got to hear to run out and get a copy. If you haven’t seen this slice of cinematic cool, then where have you been? Oh and keep reading to see if it’s worth your hard-earned cash.
In the heart of in New York City, people are going missing and the mole people (the homeless that live in subway tunnels and old sewers) are running scared. Enter a photographer shooting NYC’s homeless, a police captain with a personal stake in the case, and one of the wet bandits as someone running a homeless shelter. As they start to look into the disappearances, a shady government agency rolls in, trying to keep the secret things secret. Meanwhile attacks by obviously not-human assailants continue to happen, including an all-out assault on a diner that claims the life of police officer John Goodman (no, really) and the inverse of the famous shower scene that leaves you scratching your head.
Eventually the truth comes out that the government has been storing nuclear waste in the sewers beneath the city and C.H.U.D. actually stands for Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal. That toxic goop has been mutating the homeless living down there into green-skinned, glowing-eyed, sharp-fanged mutants with a taste for human flesh. And here is where the movie starts to shine. While it takes a little while to get to the good stuff, once things start rolling, it gets goofy and gory with some memorable creature effects, and more than one WTF moment, like when one C.H.U.D. mutates and stretches out its neck about a foot long, just to help a nice lady hack its head off with a sword. Because why again? Still, the monsters are cool, the action is pure 80s cheese, the acting is competent, the direction is workman-like but sufficient, and for a movie like this, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
On to the extras on this new Blu-ray release from Arrow Video. First and foremost, there are two versions of this movie here. There is the original theatrical cut and the “Integral Cut.” Don’t know why it’s called that; it runs 96 minutes as opposed to the original’s 88 minutes, so there’s more stuff there, but I guess director’s cut or unedited cut just didn’t sound as fancy. For that integral cut there is a commentary track that is an interview with the two composers of the film, followed by their original score. Then there is a commentary with five members of the cast and crew: actors John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, the director Douglas Cheek, and writer Shep Abbott. For more goodies, there’s an interview with the production designer William Bilowit that runs 19 minutes, an interview with make-up and creature designer John Caglione, Jr. that’s 12 minutes; there’s a featurette on the New York City locations with writer Michael (Rue Morgue Magazine) Gingold and filmmaker Ted (We Are Still Here) Geoghegan that’s nine minutes long. Want more? Okay, there’s an extended shower scene (yay), a behind-the-scenes still gallery, and trailer.
C.H.U.D. isn’t a great movie, but it is a fun movie, a quintessentially 80s movie, and a classic movie, insofar as it’s been referenced in a thousand things that followed it, and everyone knows it even if they’ve never seen it. I love this creature feature, warts and all, and here the movie looks better than ever before. So I can easily and highly recommended the gloriously goofiness that is C.H.U.D.