C.H.U.D. (1984) Review

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I love that Rare-Horror has a preference for 80s movies. Those films are from my generation and it gives me a great excuse to go back and revisit some of my favorites so I can review them for a new generation. The 80s may be full of schlock, neon colored clothing, big hair, and cocaine but a film should not be dismissed simply because it was made in the decade of excess. This flick is just such a film.

C.H.U.D. is about a little hamlet called New York City. Over the past few weeks a handful of its citizens have gone missing. The Chief of Police and the Commissioner are keeping it under wraps because they don’t want the public to panic. Or to find out the dirty little secret they’re hiding.

When a photographer, Cooper, starts taking pictures of the homeless population, he stumbles onto something disturbing. One of the men living in the tunnels under the city has been attacked by some kind of…creature. Add in the investigative prowess of a local reverend who runs a soup kitchen and a police captain whose wife has gone missing, and we finally start to uncover the truth.

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Though the EPA would like us to believe there is just one lone mutated creature dwelling in the underground tunnels, our heroes discover quite a different story. Unfortunately for them, and for a large chunk of NY’s population, the EPA/NRC will do whatever they have to in order to cover up the reality of what’s been happening underneath the city.

It had been such a long time since I’d seen this movie. I remembered enjoying it, but little else.  As it turned out, It was just as much fun this time as that first viewing. It’s amazing to see so many now famous/reputable actors were in this movie: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Kim Greist, John Goodman, Jay Thomas, Jon Polito (Mr. Gideon, you’re not paying attention). There are many more, and even if you don’t recognize their names, their faces are unmistakable. Though this is a B-horror film, the caliber of acting is much higher than most.

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The story is a common one of the time – radiation spillage causes monstrous mutations. The big bad government conspires with local law enforcement to keep all this under wraps. Some of the elements are a bit convenient though: the EPA just happens to leave behind a radiation reader, a Hazmat boot, and a working geiger counter in the tunnels. And I think a few scenes were just added in because they had a little extra money (the shower scene and C.H.U.D. extendo-neck sequence come to mind).

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It’s also a bit strange that when the police captain and Reverend confront the man from the NRC, he readily admits that there’s a creature running around the tunnels killing folks but doesn’t want to confess about dumping toxic waste. He doesn’t even try to say, “Oh, it’s just some drug crazy psycho killer,” but explains about the Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller without blinking. What?

There are a lot more details involved in this movie (intersecting story lines and back story and side story) which makes this not just about the toxic waste but about the characters. You do end up caring about what happens to them during the film (except the jackass from the NRC), but for me, I just kept wondering how their lives were different afterwards.

When a campy horror film makes me care, about anything, I’d say it was a successful and entertaining venture.

About the Author:

Peggy Christie has been writing horror fiction since 1999. Her work has appeared in several websites, magazines, and anthologies, including Necrotic Tissue, Code Z: An Undead Hospital Anthology, Black Ink Horror, Elements of Horror, and Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes. Her short story, “Why Be Normal?”, opened the anthology Reckless Abandon from Catalyst Press which premiered at the Horrorfind Convention in 2002. Her collection, Hell Hath No Fury, was published by Hazardous Press in May of 2013. Peggy is also the Secretary of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. She even has her own webpage. Check it out at themonkeyisin.com.

Peggy loves Korean dramas, survival horror video games, and chocolate (not necessarily in that order) and lives in Michigan with her husband and their two dogs, Roscoe P. Coltrane and Dozer.

11 thoughts on “C.H.U.D. (1984) Review

  1. Radiation poisoning is responsible again! I think I actually remember seeing the adverts for this movie in the papers. Anyways, I believe 80’s horror movies possessed a certain campy attitude, which makes them very humorous.

  2. Hey, this is embarrassing. Before now, I never realized that C.H.U.D. is an acronym. (It’s very, very obvious) So not only was this a great review, it’s educational!

    I like how this review really shows your enjoyment for the film. No one should be surprised that this movie isn’t GREAT, but you’ve convinced me to track it down anyways. Sometimes enjoyment is all you need.

  3. Definitely one of the decade’s greats. John Heard and Daniel Stern later co-starred in “Home Alone”, but I think that history will give everyone time to agree that “C.H.U.D.” is their great co-starring.

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