Cancel the apocalypse. The C.H.U.D. franchise is now available in HD collector’s editions.
2016 has been a pretty unfortunate year in many ways, but sometimes, even in the darkest of times, an unexpected joy will appear and make everything better. That probably won’t be happening this year, but there are still small things worth celebrating.
Both 1984’s C.H.U.D. and 1989’s C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud have recently been released in remastered, fully-loaded special edition Blu-rays. It’s surprising that either film would get this kind of treatment ‐ it’s a Christmas miracle that they were both released on the same day but from two completely different labels.
Arrow Video put out the original while Lionsgate’s new Vestron Video line released the sequel. We take a look at both below.
People are disappearing in New York City. At first the missing are mere bums and homeless, and only a soup kitchen reverend named AJ (Daniel Stern) seems to care. Soon more upstanding citizens disappear including Capt. Bosch’s (Christopher Curry) wife, but when the two men team up to look for answers they’re stonewalled by government officials with something to hide. They unintentionally join forces with a photographer named George (John Heard) whose work with homeless people living beneath the streets reveals a startling truth.
There be monsters down there.
The sole feature film of both director Douglas Cheek and writer Parnell Hall, C.H.U.D. guaranteed itself a long shelf-life thanks to more than just its odd title ‐ a goofy acronym defined by the movie to mean both the popular Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers and the far less sexy Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal. It’s also a fun, exciting, and fast-moving little monster movie.
At under ninety minutes, the movie gets the action moving early, but it still takes time with its characters allowing each of the three leads some downtime. Bosch’s wife is missing ‐ we already know her and her dog have been turned into dinner, but he spends most of the film hoping for better news ‐ while George’s is present and accounted for but unknowingly living above some of the CHUD-frequented tunnels. AJ’s connection is less personal but no less serious for him as he has real concerns for the city’s homeless population.
The filmmakers know what they’re making though, and while it’s played seriously throughout they find multiple moments of levity amid the drama and effects work. Stern in particular carries the comedy weight delivering more than a few great lines and reactions. He and Heard work well together, and I would have loved to see them re-team for a sequel (but sadly the rights-holders went a different direction). There’s plenty of gore to be found, and the creatures themselves offer a memorable design and a fun look.
C.H.U.D. doesn’t get enough love, but it holds up surprisingly well for a low-budget horror movie from the ’80s. It’s well-acted, funny, and a solid creature-feature.
Arrow Video’s new Blu-ray offers both a new 2k transfer of the integral cut and an HD presentation of the original theatrical version (on a second Blu-ray). The extras include a trailer, an extended shower scene ‐ includes nudity that was cut from the film ‐ and the following special features:
- Commentary with John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, director Douglas Cheek, and writer Shephard Abbot
- Commentary interview with composers Martin Cooper and David A. Hughes
- A Dirty Look [19:11] ‐ Production designer William Bilowit talks about his entry into the world of filmmaking on movies like Nightmare and Creepshow and the work he did on C.H.U.D.
- Dweller Designs [12:07] ‐ John Caglione Jr. shares how Dick Smith helped him get into special effects, his work on Saturday Night Live (Coneheads!), and his creature work here.
- Notes from Above Ground [9:10] ‐ Michael Gingold and Ted Geoghegan visit the film’s shooting locations throughout New York City.
- Behind the scenes gallery [5:32] ‐ A slideshow filled with photos of the cast and crew during production.
C.H.U.D. (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud
A pair of teenage friends go looking for a corpse ‐ as teens are wont to do ‐ but what begins as a prank quickly grows into something far more serious (in theory). The body they grab is a leftover CHUD currently being used as part of a government experiment intended to create super warriors, and when they accidentally revive it the creature goes on a spree that leaves death and more CHUDs in his wake.
Also, this particular CHUD is named Bud (Gerrit Graham).
While the original film is a serious horror movie with room for laughs and fun, the sequel chose to go in a different direction. It’s played strictly for laughs with both the dialogue and action designed to be more playful than horrific, but unfortunately very little of it succeeds.
Graham does a good job with the comically-aware Bud, but it’s as part of a broad comedy that sees the infected driving cars, conversing, and carpooling to a diner. They’re not even remotely scary or unsettling, and we never have the slightest concern for anyone’s well-being. Worse, instead of the creatures causing havoc in the first film these threats ‐ including Bud himself ‐ are just people with false teeth and pasty makeup. That’s right. The film’s marketing flat-out lied with the poster (recreated for the cover art below).
C.H.U.D. II is one of those horror/comedies that leans heavily into the latter and flat-out ignores the former. That’s no guarantee of a weak movie ‐ Dead Alive, What We Do in the Shadows, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space put comedy first and still work to varying degrees ‐ but in this case it all just falls flat. But at least the new Blu-ray looks great!
Lionsgate’s new Vestron Video collector’s edition includes a new HD remaster, a trailer, a still gallery, and the following special features
- Commentary with director David Irving
- Bud Speaks! [16:18] ‐ Gerrit Graham shares his disbelief as a young actor that he’d find success in the horror genre and discusses the film’s production.
- Katie’s Kalamity [12:45] ‐ Tricia Leigh Fisher discusses how her love of comedy and ability to scream helped land her the role as well as her experience making the film.
- This C.H.U.D.’s for You! [14:44] ‐ Special effects artist Allan Apone talks about working on the film and his love of Gerrit Graham.
C.H.U.D II: Bud The Chud [Blu-ray]
Related Topics: Home Video