Review by Monkey Fist
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
C.H.U.D is one of those oddities that always stood out from the video shelves whenever I visited the rental outlet back in the mid-80s. After reading the synopsis on the back of the video cover and finding out that the acronym actually stands for “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller”, I just had to rent it to see how bad this one was! Honestly, this does not even come close to classics like Alien or Predator but hell it was a fun and watchable b-grade film nonetheless.
The premise is a simple – homeless folks residing in the labyrinth of tunnels under New York city get exposed to toxic waste and end up metamorphosising into rubbery cannibal monsters with fangs and glowing ping-pong-ball eyes. An ex-fashion photographer who has given it all up in favour of photojournalism, a cop who has been told to shelf a growing number of missing persons cases and an ex-con artist / thief who now runs a soup kitchen for the homeless, stumble by accident over a conspiracy to keep the existence of the monsters secret, and go out to expose the truth. They run into red tape, lies and a general first-class conspiracy under the control of a shifty spokesman from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and eventually the aforementioned glowing-eyed flesheaters.
Toss into this some colourful support from a bible-spouting hobo-loony, the photographer’s model girlfriend and a reporter looking for a big story and our characters are thrown into the deep end, with government spooks trailing them and the CHUDs themselves getting more and more brazen in their surface raids for fresh human snacks. Folks get chomped, a plot to kill the monsters is hatched and it all comes down to a final-reel race for survival and the truth behind what CHUD really means……
The low-budget aspect of the film is also telling, with all the gore relegated to post-mortem stuff and how the CHUDs themselves look (think cheesy Halloween costumes with some goo on them). Regardless, this doesn’t remove the movie’s simple charm. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, the cast deport themselves well despite it all, and it has a few standout moments that highlight the reality of the underworlds that exist beneath many major cities. Even John Goodman turns up as skirt-chasing beat cop, before ending up as CHUD’s hot lunch!! This should be on your priority list if you are seeking for some trashy 80s creature feature to while away the weekend!