OCTOBER 2 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : C.H.U.D.
C.H.U.D. Now here was a movie that had us hooked simply by looking at the box. A friggin' demon with glowing eyes crawling out of a manhole... "This is gonna be better than Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'!" we thought to ourselves. And the name... man oh man that name really had it all. Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Between the box and the name, was there really any chance that this movie could live up to the hype? Absolutely not, but it was still a fun movie to watch when you got tired of trying to master the toughest pogo-ball tricks on earth. Besides, some fairly well-known actors were in this flick, so that right there makes it worth our looking into...
It's a dark late night in New York City. The streets are almost completely empty... which is understandable considering it's such a quiet town 'n all. A lady is taking her dog for a walk without a care in the world. And why not? The streets of New York in the late hours of the night are among the most recommended tourist attractions for defenseless women. Totally safe. But this lady is quite careless. She's obviously taking her dog out to crap on the streets, but is she carrying a pooper-scooper of any sort with her? No. And it is for this reason that I believe the writer decided to kill her off instantly. As soon as she walks near the manhole, out comes a C.H.U.D. to drag her in while she kicks and screams. Unfortunately, we don't get to see any gore.
Instead we see:
Interesting note about her death though: she doesn't even let go of the leash so her little poodle can escape. She drags it down into the sewers with her to be eaten by the C.H.U.D.! I hope the director wasn't hoping we'd feel sorry for the victims in this movie, because if this is any sign of the characters to come, I really hope that the C.H.U.D. will kill 'em all off...
Well, well... here's our first familiar face. It's John Heard. He's had roles in a ton 'o movies, including the dad in "Home Alone". In C.H.U.D. he plays George Cooper, a photographer who has been working around homeless people lately. Why? Maybe he likes the smell. Who the hell knows? It's a b-movie and there's not a lot o' character development going on here. Also living with George is his model Girlfriend, Lauren. And what a way to be introduced in a movie: smearing cream on her ass because of a pimple on it. Yep. C.H.U.D. is quickly becoming the classiest low budget flick ever.
Moving right along in this absolutely intriguing story, we find George's neighbor walking down the street. She sees something moving around in some nearby trash and goes to check it out like any good citizen would. The boxes burst into the air, scaring the crap out of the lady and unveiling a... a... a... a bloody hole in the ground! *GASP!*
Over at the police station, Captain Bosch calls up his boss (Eddie Jones, whom you might remember from one of the greatest hacker movies ever "Sneakers") on the phone and tells him that he can no longer keep a lid on this thing. What exactly has he been keeping a lid on? Probably the fact that his movie career is already in the shitter, but let's just assume there's a big cover-up over the C.H.U.D. in the New York sewers.
So a frustrated Captain Bosch heads on down to see the Reverend. And wouldn't you know it, it's Daniel Stern... big hair and all! What the hell is going on here? Is the entire "Home Alone" cast in this crazy movie? What I don't understand is both John Heard and Daniel Stern were already fairly well along in their careers, yet they still chose to do a movie like C.H.U.D. I tell ya folks, it's all about the title. It probably drew them in just like it draws us in. It casts some kind of magic spell on us that makes us want to watch the movie no matter what.
Well anyway, the Reverend explains to the captain that all of the homeless people that live underground and come to his soup kitchen on a regular basis have been missing for weeks now. In fact, there's only one of them left... this guy:
He apparently got so scared of living underground that he came back to the soup kitchen. So good ol' Bosch decides to interrogate him about the missing people.
"homina... homina... homina... homina..."
Interrogation Tip #1: Talking to "crazy knife guy", isn't really going to get you any answers for your investigation. It might make you soil your pants though...
Back at the police station, one of the local homeless ladies was brought in for trying to steal an officer's gun. Why would she need a gun? Could it be because there's C.H.U.D. lurking all about? Nahhh! Anyway, she gets her free phone call and she somehow knows George Cooper's home phone number. She's got his phone number and she's on a first name basis with him? Exactly what kind of homeless photography have you been doing in this town George? Perv...
Well, after he bails her outta jail, she leads him down into the sewers because one of her homeless buddies had his leg chomped on. Chomped on by a C.H.U.D.! George recommends taking the guy to the hospital. Good thinking George! I guess they don't pay you that big salary just for taking nude old homeless lady photos after all!
After the Reverend shows Captain Bosch some of the suspicious stuff he's found in the sewer lately (including a Geiger counter that still works), we cut to a little girl and her granddad... once again, walking alone in the streets of New York City in the middle of the night. They go into a phone booth so he can call for directions while the little girl looks out into the dark streets. Soon enough, one of our C.H.U.D. pals comes creeping out of the sewers and by the time the little girl gets her granddad's attention, it's already too late.
"C.H.U.D. EAT GRANDDAD! RAAAAAAAAR!"
Ah yes, our first glimpse of what a C.H.U.D. really looks like. Just look at those eyes! This movie might be low on the gore-factor, and the acting-factor, and the worthspendingyourmoneyon-factor, but the C.H.U.D. creatures sure do rock.
YOU DIDN'T "DIAL DOWN THE CENTER"!
Did I mention there's hardly any gore in this movie? Well I wasn't kidding. As it drags the old geezer out of the phone booth, we get to see a close-up of the creature's mouth. And while it might make a dentist cringe, it's not exactly what a horror movie fan would hope for. Even worse, the C.H.U.D. apparently have a soft spot for kids, because the girl was left in the phone booth completely unharmed. Well, I mean physically unharmed. I'm sure seeing her granddad torn apart by a sewer monster couldn't be too good for her emotional development at such a young age.
Moving right along, Captain Bosch is sick and tired of covering up the mysterious disappearances in the city, so he and the Reverend call an emergency meeting with all of the suits that have been trying to cover it up. Wilson, the evil director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is there too. Even with the photographic evidence that they are presented with, Wilson and the other suits just shrug it off and even mock them. Annoyed, the Reverend throws Wilson's briefcase to the ground and storms out the door. The suitcase opens and exposes a confidence file that reads:
C. H. U. D. !!!
They ask Wilson what it's all about and he finally concedes that it stands for a Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller. Basically the toxic waste that has been dumped in New York City's sewers have turned a bunch of the homeless people living down there into bloodthirsty monsters. A major break in the case! Unfortunately, Wilson is still "the man in charge" and continues to try covering up the existence of the C.H.U.D. creatures. He even sends the most evil goon on earth after the Reverend to make sure he doesn't talk to the press.
Don't believe me? See for yourself:
Calling the press? I don't think so!
As a twisted scare-tactic, Wilson's thug EATS the Reverend's quarter!!! He doesn't throw it on the ground. He doesn't put it back in the phone and call a 1-900 number. He fucking EATS the thing! I'd like to see one of you, just one of you, try to claim that a person who eats quarters isn't a complete badass. Completely freaked out and at a loss for words, the Reverend walks away. And you can bet your ass that I'd do the exact same thing if I were in his shoes. Stay away from the quarter-eater. He'll swallow your soul... and your loose change too.
Back at headquarters (I think), Bosch and Wilson are monitoring their men in the sewers. Wilson is pissed that the Captain sent some men armed with flamethrowers into the sewers after he gave him orders not to. But it's not an issue for very long, because the last thing we see is the flamethrowers blasting some empty space and then the video cuts out. Looks like the C.H.U.D. have attacked again.
Sorry Bosch, they're dead. For the record, I think people would have a lot more respect for the police if they walked around with flamethrowers like those sewer police guys did. I sure as hell wouldn't try to sweet-talk my way out of a speeding ticket if a police officer walked up to me with a flamethrower. Anyway, the Reverend is back in the sewers and he runs into "crazy knife guy". He tells "crazy knife guy "that they need to get out of the sewers pronto because evil is afoot. And just as "crazy knife guy" starts to climb up out of the sewers, he gets knocked down from above! Who did it!? Who knocked down "crazy knife guy"!? NO... NO IT CAN'T BE! IT'S... IT'S...
Lightning never strikes twice, but the evil of the Quarter-Eating Bandit will strike as many times as he wants! He'll make your life a living hell and then some! After knocking "crazy knife guy" back into the sewers with the Reverend, he locks them both in. EVIL.
Meanwhile, somewhere else in the sewers on the other end of town, George Cooper and Murphy (a freelance reporter who is trying to get a "big story") are looking around in the sewers for evidence. Well, their detective work was a little too good, because they find a C.H.U.D. which once again, grabs Murphy by the throat and then shows off those pearly whites...
REMEMBER KIDS! FLOSS DAILY!
George wisely hightails it outta there, but elsewhere in the sewers, the Reverend is still trying to find an alternate exit. Instead, he finds what I can only assume is the main den of the C.H.U.D. They appear to be worshipping a large puddle of vomit, or it could just be really old soggy cabbage. Either way, they're not too happy when they hear the Reverend accidentally kick over a few rocks, disturbing their cabbage worship.
The Reverend runs outta there as fast as he possibly can, dropping his Geiger counter in the process. Well, I guess since he has monsters chasing him it's not gonna come in that handy anymore. I mean, he KNOWS they're in the room, you don't need a stupid machine to tell ya that.
Well I'll be damned! It really works!
Back in George's apartment, his girlfriend Lauren wanders down into the basement just because she saw a door to it and felt the urge to "check it out"(?). What she finds is a cute little dead puppy hanging from its neck. Awww. So in case you were wondering, here's how the C.H.U.D. deal with different earthly creatures so far:
Human Adults: Kill/Maim/Eat/Dissolve/Brutalize/Etc.
Human Children: Leave them mentally scarred for life.
Puppies: Hang the little critters.
There might not be any real logic behind the C.H.U.D., but you gotta admit, when it comes to fucking up lives... they get the job done one way or another. And speaking of which, it's time to fuck up the life of Captain Bosch.
Some guy reported seeing something dead in the water. What he didn't say is that it was Bosch's wife! Man, she was quite a looker. Bosch must have had a big heart... what with marrying a gal who had no body 'n all. Sorry Bosch, tough break. Keep your chin up pal, for there's C.H.U.D. to battle! Anyway, back to Cooper's apartment.
With no gore in the movie, you'd think there would at least be some cleavage right? Wrong. Nontheless, once Lauren starts to get undressed, the C.H.U.D. start coming up from the basement. And here we learn another important horror flick lesson...
Monsters always come for the nude.
She hops in the shower and the drain quickly becomes clogged. Perhaps she finally popped that big zit on her ass and the puss clogged up the drain? Well I'm happy to report she didn't... for even I couldn't stomach a scene that utterly horrific. She pokes around in there with a coathanger and apparently she jabs a C.H.U.D. with it! How the giant C.H.U.D. creatures can fit in a tiny drain pipe will forever baffle me. Nonetheless, it spurts out a ton of blood all over the place. And it is as this point which I feel the film's most horrifying moment is shown to the viewer. Behold!
By all means, take a break if you need to. Go for a walk... collect yourself. Seeing a bloody bar of soap isn't easy to stomach. Calm down... it's gonna be OK.
Ok, do ya feel better now? Good. Don't feel too bad. After all, they say what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger... right? Perhaps not. Anyway, let's move onward to another C.H.U.D. star cameo!
WHOAH! IT'S JOHN GOODMAN!
Yep, John Goodman and his buddy cop walk into the local diner to get some burgers and hit on the waitress. He did this movie right after he did Revenge of the Nerds. To this day I still can't decide if that was a step up or down in his career. Unfortunately, all we get to see is Goodman flirting with the waitress for a few seconds before the diner gets overrun with more of those pesky C.H.U.D. They could have at least shown him duking it out with a C.H.U.D., but no. What happens next? You know the routine...
C.H.U.D. ATTACK. EVERYBODY DIES.
As you can see, the diner is torn to shreds... but once again, they never show any of the actual massacre. All we ever see is a glimpse of the bloody aftermath. Bastards! Well, at least now there's no way in hell Wilson and his corrupt company can cover-up the truth about the C.H.U.D. any longer. But we'll get back to Wilson and his evil plans shortly. First we have to return to Cooper's apartment one more time.
NINJA GIRL vs. C.H.U.D.
After being bathed in blood in her own shower, Lauren does her best to barricade herself inside the apartment. But a desk and a door isn't enough to stop the almighty C.H.U.D.! So, she picks up a nearby sword (don't ask) and creeps down like a ninja waiting to pounce on her prey. Now this is where things make even less sense. The C.H.U.D. walks in and sees her with the sword, but instead of attacking her, it forces it's neck to stretch out really high making it easier for her to decapitate it. Why they didn't just have it hold up a sign that said "SLASH YOUR SWORD RIGHT HERE!" is beyond me. Since it apparently wants her to chop off its head, she slices away and we finally get to see some C.H.U.D. BLOOD!
It gurgles. It bubbles. It crackles. It's C.H.U.D. BLOOD!
But it's still hungry! Hungry for ankle! C.H.U.D. LOVE ANKLE! Sadly, she boots the hungry severed head into the corner, and his flashlight eyes slowly burn out. I swear, this is the one moment in the movie that almost made me cry. Almost...
Ok I did cry.
Back outside at the scene of the diner massacre, Bosch and Wilson get into an argument about the cover-up. We now learn that C.H.U.D. also stands for "Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal". I dunno, somehow I don't think the movie would be as infamous if they used that for the title. So... Bosch punches Wilson and then runs off to uncover the manhole that is blocking the Reverend and Cooper (who magically ran into each other in the sewers). Bosch frees them, but then Wilson comes back and guns him down. Oh well, you were a trooper Bosch. By the way, someone spilled ketchup on your shirt. Actually I'm not even sure if he really dies or not, the ending is kinda hazy on the details there.
Next, Wilson then tries to run down the rest of the survivors with a truck, but the Reverend is here to save the day! He picks up a gun and shoots Wilson straight through the chest! Way to go Rev! It's good to see Daniel Stern kicking some ass. But then they decide that a gunshot through the chest wasn't enough.
So what do they do?
They have the truck explode for no real reason whatsoever. Sure. Whatever.
In the long run, C.H.U.D. certainly was a movie. A movie that I watched. A movie where people aren't scared to walk the streets of New York alone in the middle of the night. A movie where homeless people turn into monsters with flashlight eyes. A movie with a bloody bar of soap. Even with all of these things in mind, there's one thing that still keeps me up at night...