A delicious, mysterious goo that oozes from the earth is marketed as the newest dessert sensation, but the tasty treat rots more than teeth when zombie-like snackers who only want to consume more of the strange substance at any cost begin infesting the world.
One morning, a young man wakes to find that a small, disgusting creature has attached itself to the base of his brain stem. The creature gives him a euphoric state of happiness but demands human victims in return.
A rash of bizarre murders in New York City seems to point to a group of grotesquely deformed vagrants living in the sewers. A courageous policeman, a photo journalist and his girlfriend, and a nutty bum, who seems to know a lot about the creatures, band together to try and determine what the creatures are and how to stop them. Written by
Philip Brubaker <email@example.com>
One of the opening images in "C.H.U.D" is a full-on shot of a truck banner reading "Slow Moving Vehicle." That's the most valid image in the whole movie.
Under Manhattan, mysterious creatures terrorize the homeless who live in the sewers, and begin striking those who walk the streets as well. When one disappearance involves a precinct captain's wife, the captain starts investigating the situation by asking around a neighborhood soup kitchen.
The captain, Bosch, is played by Christopher Curry, a here-and-gone Martin Mull lookalike whose casual handling of his wife's disappearance would come off as absurd if we hadn't previously gotten a load of what she looks like. While Curry is the main actor, two better-known names have key supporting roles, Daniel Stern as the grimy soup kitchen director (only the destitute would accept a meal from him) and John Heard as a photographer.
Heard's character has little to do with the story, and the way he's brought in is lazy and forced. He has some photos of streetpeople, and one homeless woman calls him for bail. He takes a photo of a gored leg that shows something sinister is going on, though all I saw was bad make-up. Through most of the film, we see him blow off deadlines and interact unaffectionately with his live-in girlfriend, played by Kim Griest. Heard here is smug and charmless, yet we are supposed to be impressed by him because he's played by the great John Heard.
The torpor and aimlessness of "C.H.U.D." amaze me. Sewer creatures rising up in the big city is not a bad concept, but not only does the film fail to do anything with it, we get a lot of inert moments where people trade cliché-ridden dialogue like: "Keep a lid on it." "Nothing, huh? Sounds interesting." "Watch your step, Bosch, remember you don't belong here." "I don't believe you! What are you trying to hide?"
There's a stonewalling government official played by George Martin who bulges his eyes and sneers at every question and gives us an obvious central villain since the budget is too cheap to show us much of the monsters. The creatures are meant to horrify but merely look like inept Halloween window displays, while the unbearable synthesized score sounds like a seven-year-old toying with a department-store display organ. Then you get goofy sequences like the one where Griest is in a shower, gets drenched in blood, and is next seen dry and unfazed. Must have set the showers controls on "Bobby Ewing."
The whole movie is like that, jumping from effect to effect, hitting us with little shock moments here and there, not tying anything in. This is not scary, just annoying.
It's true I didn't see the director's cut, which is a bit longer and shows one C.H.U.D. attack in the middle rather than at the end of the film, where it makes less sense. But whatever the editing, the product on screen is deadly dull, and surprisingly unfunny given its enduring cult reputation. "C.H.U.D" gets mentioned as an askew satire, but just isn't in the same class as "Tremors" or "Return of the Living Dead," let alone an Evil Dead film. To recite another cliché: You have been warned.
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