Anchor Bay // 1984 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 12th, 2001
They're not staying down there anymore!
What mixes better in horror movies than toxic waste, the homeless, and New York City? Absolutely nothing, and the proof comes in the form of the star studded 1984 monster flick C.H.U.D.! The "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers" are gooey, sharp toothed monsters with an appetite for human flesh...and even puppies! Anchor Bay, DVD provider of everything schlocky, digs deep into the vaults and comes out with this first ever widescreen edition of the cult classic that will make you think twice about going into the sewers (like you even thought about it a first time). The C.H.U.D. are here...and DVD may never be the same!
Strange things are starting to happen in the city of New York. The homeless that live under the streets are starting to disappear. Citizens out for a leisurely stroll are popping up on "missing persons" reports. Even cute, innocent dogs are being found half eaten and hung in the sewers by their leashes. What (or who) could be doing this? The C.H.U.D.! These mutated cannibals are growing in size and numbers...and are a threat to the very existence of cranky New Yorkers everywhere! When a police captain (Christopher Curry, Starship Troopers), a soup kitchen activist (Daniel Stern, City Slickers), and a professional photographer (John Heard, Big) get mixed up in this crazy plot (involving illegal governmental toxic dumping), the consensus is that the C.H.U.D. must be stopped! In a race against time, the sewers become a maze of tunnels and crevices that hide the hideous creatures. Will they be stopped? Can they be stopped? Or is The Big Apple about to get a pretty big bite taken out of it?
C.H.U.D. ain't nothin' but goofball fun. By no means is this a great monster movie. Then again, by no means is it a bad monster movie. Allow me to get up onto my soapbox for a moment. I believe that the most fun horror movies came out of the 1980s. I'm not saying the greatest or the best, just the most enjoyable. Psycho, The Silence Of The Lambs and the original Frankenstein are all classic horror movies. There is nothing wrong with them. However, for sheer entertainment you can't beat the slop from the decade of decadence. Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Re-Animator, The Return Of The Living Dead...I get all choked up just thinking about 'em (and I didn't even mention the Friday The 13th or A Nightmare On Elm Street series). Yes, the '80s gave us a hearty heap of horror that grossed-out while simultaneously becoming instant fun. It is with that speech that I offer up another example of those bygone days: C.H.U.D..
C.H.U.D. owes a lot to George A. Romero's Night Of The Living Dead. The monsters in this movie reminded me of those nasty zombies (albeit a bit faster and uglier). The filmmakers smartly use what I like to call "The Law of Jaws" technique for their effects: keep the monsters well hidden until the very end. We don't get much of a glimpse of the C.H.U.D. creatures until the last 20 minutes or so of the film. The bulk of C.H.U.D. is made up of lots of dialogue and discussion about what's going on underneath the city. While that's usually a complaint in most horror movies, in C.H.U.D. it's not so bad since the actors are all future stars worth watching. Actor Daniel Stern is given some of the best lines in the film, his hair a mop flop on his tall, scrawny body. John Heard looks paunchy and tired while his girlfriend (Kim Greist, Throw Mama From The Train) acts perky and cute. Along the way the audience should have a good time spotting cameos by soon-to-be-stars (John Goodman, Jay Thomas, Patricia Richardson of "Home Improvement," and Frankie Faison of The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal fame). And, of course, there are the creature and splatter effects that litter the film. I think that I saw more dead bodies on the screen than I did actual C.H.U.D. monsters. While rummaging around the sewers Heard and Stern run into a lot of grotesquely eaten bodies and parts that should make most viewers decided to skip their dinner. Gore hounds, however, will be pleased to no end. The C.H.U.D. monsters are neat to look at, but their appearance is much too brief. Even at the end, they seem to show up and disappear relatively quickly. But, these are just quibbles in the realm of a wiseacre and very enjoyable film. In an age of cruddy Scream knockoffs and Se7en clones, it's good to know that you can always rent low-budget B-movie like C.H.U.D.. Sadly, they just don't make movies like this anymore. I once again reiterate that the 1980s were a golden time for the horror movie...a passed era now taken over by too many snazzy effects and too little imagination.
C.H.U.D. is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. As usual, Anchor Bay has done a fantastic job of cleaning up this print and making it look close to brand new. While some imperfections do exist (some of the blacks tend to look too dark, and there is some grain spotted), overall this is an excellent job by Anchor Bay.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono and is right on target for what a mono track should be. Dialogue, effects, and music were all clean and distortion free, though the track lacks any depth or range. No subtitles are included on this disc.
C.H.U.D. gets a small bit of special treatment with the inclusion of a very funny commentary track by actors Daniel Stern, John Heard, and Christopher Curry, plus director Douglas Cheek and writer Shepard Abbott. This track is a complete hoot as everyone (especially Daniel Stern) has a grand time making fun of the film while filling the viewer in on some rare productions stories. Also included on this disc is a nice behind-the-scenes gallery with early models of the C.H.U.D. creatures, production photos, and so on, plus there's a theatrical trailer provided for C.H.U.D. Finally there is an "Easter egg" on this disc! When you are at the extra features menu, click up and highlight the monster's eyes. Push enter and you'll see a scene from the film that was apparently edited, but is shown here in its entirety (and you thought C.H.U.D. was void of any gratuitous boob shots)!
C.H.U.D. is F.U.N. It's not a landmark film, nor will it make you think about any deep environmental or government issues. It will, however, provide you with an hour and a half of ugly deformed monsters eating innocent people. What more can you ask out of life? Anchor Bay has gone the extra mile to give C.H.U.D. a nice transfer and a few exciting supplemental features.
As a side note, C.H.U.D. was followed by a sequel in 1989, C.H.U.D. II: Bud The Chud. Starring many TV sitcom stars of the day, that pale imitation is not worth seeking out (unless you feel like laughing at the investors who stupidly threw their hard earned cash into that stinker).
C.H.U.D. is free to go! Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailer
* Behind-The-Scenes Photos
* Commentary Track by Actors Daniel Stern, John Heard, and Christopher Curry, Director Douglas Cheek and writer Shepard Abbott