C.H.U.D. (1984)


A photographer (John Heard) and a soup kitchen owner (Daniel Stern) discover that the city’s homeless population, particularly those who live in the underground tunnels, are disappearing. They can’t get law enforcement to care, however, until a few above-ground citizens are discovered mutilated. A conspiracy involving toxic waste is uncovered and the culprit is revealed: cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers. Or, C.H.U.D.s, for short.

C.H.U.D. takes itself a little more seriously than its title suggests. The acting and production values are above average for low-budget horror fare. Heard and Kim Greist, as his newly pregnant girlfriend, actually have a fairly touching scene together when they decide to keep their baby. The makeup and creature effects are used a little too sparingly. When we finally catch a glimpse of the title monsters, their glowing eyes recall the Morlocks of The Time Machine. Even though they’re just people in rubber suits, the monsters really need more screen time. In their absence, the film’s most memorable moment comes when Greist tries to unclog a shower drain with a wire hanger. As she stabs the drain, she’s hit suddenly with a burst of blood spray. It makes little sense, really, except to beg a political interpretation.

Corporate greed and environmental protection also play into the story, but don’t expect C.H.U.D. to dive deep — at least not deeper than the New York sewer system. The film may deliver well enough for fans of B-horror movies, but this viewer wished there were far less investigation and much more C.H.U.D.ding around.

With Christopher Curry, Eddie Jones, Sam McMurray, and J.C. Quinn. Look for John Goodman and Jay Thomas as police officers near the end.

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