C.H.U.D. (1984)

Directed by Douglas Cheek [Other horror films: N/A]

Some movies hit the right spots. Some movies do very little wrong, and get as much appreciation as possible. Some movies are Gods among cinema.

And C.H.U.D. is one of them.

Dramatic, to be sure, but true. C.H.U.D. is an almost perfect movie in every way. The story is quite good and possesses a true organic feel. The characters and plotlines are great, and how some characters don’t even meet others when investigating the same mystery is a wonderful touch. Everything fits together nicely, and it’s just a wonder to behold.

There’s so much to enjoy about the story. Four of the bigger characters, being the photographer (John Heard), the soup kitchen guy (Daniel Stern), the freelance reporter (J.C. Quinn), and the police captain (Christopher Curry) all have tangential connections – Curry and Heard don’t even meet up until the final three minutes of the film, and Heard had little idea of who Stern was when he ran into him in the sewers, and I doubt that either Stern or Curry had any idea that it was Quinn’s character who helped get Heard to start investigating it.

The story is just very well done. Heard’s wife (played by Kim Greist) doesn’t have a lot to do to start off with, but by the final thirty minutes of the film, she has her own subplot as she has to deal with some cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers who are forcing their way into her apartment while her husband is trying to avoid the same things beneath the streets.

I just love this story. The movie doesn’t waste any time. Even the very first scene – which some movies would just use to show a random, unimportant victim, getting killed – is deeply crucial to the film, as that individual is a relation to one of the main characters, and is in fact one of the reasons these disappearances have been taken more seriously by police.

Not to mention the acronym C.H.U.D., which means multiple things (it’s a good thing that waste created what could be described as cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers, or they would have had to scramble for new matching words), and I just love the sequence where we find out the true meaning, and it shows just how sinister George Martin’s character really is.

Christopher Curry is great, and when he was finally able to punch out the antagonist of the film, that was quality fun. Curry isn’t an actor I know, but he did really well, and I quite liked his emotional scene in the bar. John Heard (Cat People and Locusts) isn’t an actor I generally notice, but he did quite good here, and I just wish his character had more time to work with Curry’s. Playing Heard’s wife was Kim Greist (Manhunter), and when things started going down in her apartment building, she knew how to handle business.

Daniel Stern I know only from Home Alone and Leviathan, but he did fantastic, and I loved his growing working relationship with Curry’s character. J.C. Quinn was used well to move the plot a bit, and George Martin played a horrible, despicable character with great talent. We also get a small appearance from Frankie Faison (The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal) and a longer appearance by John Goodman (Red State, Arachnophobia, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and the series Roseanne), an actor I love in pretty much anything. The first time I saw this film, I’m guessing Goodman’s appearance went right over my head, so noticing him here out of the blue was a beautiful moment for me.

The design of the cannibalistic hombres is great, particularly the glowing eyes (and at times, they reminded me of The Mole People). I enjoyed how they didn’t show us much of them – just the clawed hands popping out of the sewers every now and again – until late in the film, when we can experience them to our glory. Oh, and the soundtrack is fantastic. It’s subtle, but it’s fantastic, especially during the apartment attack.

Some movies just work. I enjoyed C.H.U.D. when I first saw it, and I enjoyed it immensely with this revisit of it. It’s a great 80’s movie, has a nice New York City vibe (as it was filmed in and under the city), and just works in ways that not too many horror films can. Highly recommended piece of 80’s cinema.


Author: Jiggy's Horror Corner

Fan of the horror genre, writer of mini-reviews, and lover of slashers.

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