Do I have to spell it out? Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.
1984’s C.H.U.D. is one of those movies that all Gen-Xers will have fond memories of watching on cable. Upon a rewatch, it definitely made me nostalgic. It has a great, gritty, grainy 80s feel, gruesome gore, and a couple of tension-filled scenes. It may come across as a little boring, but that’s because horror used to rely on a slow burning approach. When you first glimpsed the cover of that VHS tape with that thing crawling out from a sewer, you turned on the movie and sat with great anticipation waiting to see it come to life.
The C.H.U.D. are awesome. Sort of demon, sort of alien, sort of rubber. The story is pretty simple. Homeless people who live underground in the urban jungle are disappearing. One detective’s wife disappeared, so he has a vested interest in figuring out what’s going on. And there’s a photographer looking to photograph these underground dwellers (the homeless ones, not the cannibalistic ones). That’s pretty much the plot. Nice and simple.
What else to like about C.H.U.D.? There’s 80s TV show trivia goodness—including Goodman. John Goodman has a very small role as a cop and one of the guys from The Tracey Ullman Show also has a small role. Plus, in one of the best movie moments ever, a chick is being chased through her apartment building by the C.H.U.D., and when she goes to call for help, she cuts her own phone line by tripping over it. Then she takes on the C.H.U.D. with a Samurai sword! It’s like two great 80s movies in one: The Last C.H.U.D.ragon.
C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D.
It took 5 years, but apparently the first film did well enough to warrant a sequel. However, this sequel throws away all that the first film was and gives us a movie that seems to be heavily influenced by Return of the Living Dead and Re-Animator (one decapitated zombie even runs around chasing its head).
1989’s C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. implies that Bud (that’s what they’ve named him), is the only remaining C.H.U.D. Unfortunately, he’s nothing like our original C.H.U.D. He’s just some gray-faced dead dude who comes back to life as a zombie and begins turning others into zombies. In fact, they are referred to both as “the living dead” and zombies.
This is an 80s teen horror flick disguised as a zombedy that fails miserably on all counts. Bud is basically Bub the zombie from Day of the Dead if he had a low I.Q. Bud really should be going around town looking for brains. Instead, he does things like being a Peeping Bud and dancing along as he watches some chick doing jazzercise (love the leotard and leg warmers).
There are some shocking appearances in this film: Mr. Roper, Lassie’s mom, Major Frank Burns from M.A.S.H., Robert Vaughn, Bianca Jagger, and that chick who played the stubborn head doctor in Elm Street 3. And, I kid not, if you watch closely at about the 54-minute mark, Robert Englund walks by with a little girl. WTF? What made these people decide to appear in this movie???
Interestingly, the film takes place on Halloween and ends up at a Halloween dance. But there’s no Halloween atmosphere to it, just like there’s no zombie atmosphere to it. How can a movie that has so much going for it—even a poodle zombie—fail so miserably, even in the 80s?
Of course, all is forgiven, because the majority of songs in C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. are performed by Wall of Voodoo of “Mexican Radio” fame, plus solo stuff by their lead singer. Instant…80s…classic.