Sometimes your perception on a film you haven’t seen is completely wrong. You think based on the name alone and what little information you gather on it, the movie will be a complete cheese-fest, or worse, The Bounty Hunter. C.H.U.D. (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) happens to be one of those films. I thought going into it, I was going to be served up a platter full of 80s schlock, but instead I was given a tense, sometimes graphic film that took itself seriously, but not so much that it left you rolling your eyes…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: A bizarre series of murders in New York City seems to point toward the existence of a race of mutant cannibals living under the streets.
I might be alone on this one (according to the rating on IMDb, I am), but I thought C.H.U.D. was a great film. It downplayed the monsters, slowly offering bits and pieces of information on their existence, the set pieces were varied, with the sewer settings offering up some tense claustrophobic moments and the story is pretty basic, but the actors help sell the plot. I enjoyed Daniel Stern (of Home Alone fame) as the quirky and borderline crazy, A.J. ‘The Reverend’ Shepherd. This one scene with him, the mayor and police chief was pretty funny (although I’m thinking it wasn’t supposed to be), with him freaking out and throwing shit all around. John Heard, who plays photographer George Copper, is top billed, but his role in the film is actually pretty minimal. In fact, he really doesn’t have any sort of involvement in the outcome of events, besides introducing us to a few homeless people that live in the sewers. Actually come to think of it, no one in this film has any sort of involvement in the outcome, cause in the end nothing was actually resolved. Normally, I would be complaining about a film that has no resolution, but you know what? The hour and half before that was so good, I can let it slide. However, while writing this review, I noticed that there is a C.H.U.D. II, subtitled Bud the Chud. Even though earlier I said you shouldn’t judge a movie by it’s title, I’m thinking my feelings might be right on this one, but if that film can at least expand a little on what happened at the end, I’ll give it a chance. So expect a C.H.U.D. II – Bud the Chud review in the near future.
The music was a treat to the ears and really ratcheted up the tension in the scenes. One scene in particular comes to mind (woman holed up in her apartment, with a nasty C.H.U.D. outside the door). The sound design wasn’t just your cliche 80s horror music, it was original and I have to applaud it for that. As for the look of the film, it was grimy and dirty, just like the sewer dwellers themselves. This film managed to take what little money it had ($1 million) and use it well.
Conclusion time! You know what, I’m probably going a little overboard with the praise on this film. I think perhaps with me going into it with little knowledge on what it was about and the preconceived notion that it was going to be extremely cheesy and dumb, with it turning out to be the complete opposite, has slightly tainted my view on it. So, for you, my reader, please don’t take this review as gospel. Instead, just go in expecting something different and you might walk out with the same feeling I had.
A few side notes:
Watch out for a small cameo from John Goodman.
Who else thinks we should have an action figure of a Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller?