Directed by Douglas Cheek
Starring John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist
Review by Jordan
A 32 year-old John Goodman plays the fleeting (to put it lightly) role of “Cop in Diner” in Douglas Cheek’s cult classic piece of 80’s political schlock C.H.U.D., but that’s only scratching the surface of how cool this flick is…
Referenced in The Simpsons and the inspiration (and name) of a popular entertainment website, “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers” (C.H.U.D.) is elevated from the heavily populated ’80’s horror fodder and sits among B-movie fan’s favourites not because of an abundance of gore, smut and other such frivolities, but the Urban Jungle setting it so successfully captures and the social angst behind the title’s true meaning.
Talented but down-on-his-luck photographic journalist George Cooper (John Heard) teams up with local, haggard knowledgeable bum A.J. ‘The Reverend’ Shepherd to uncover the truth behind the disappearances of New York City’s homeless and the strange disturbances coming from the underground. Paying far less attention to his model girlfriend Lauren (Kim Greist) than he should, George’s journey takes him to the grotesque heart of the matter where he is also joined by Captain Bosch (Christopher Curry), an increasingly disillusioned, loose-tie wearing and mustache-adorned cop whose wife was apparently taken by the deformed monstrosities that begin making their way to the surface.
Just what are these creatures? Well, that’s where the politically minded material comes into play, and I’ll leave the Current Affairs philosophy for the eager viewers to discover themselves.
Cheek’s highly enjoyable creature-feature is, after all, undoubtedly a must-see for all avid B-movie aficionado’s and as I mentioned in my review of the great Larry Cohen’s The Stuff (1985) perfect for viewing alongside films of that ilk (see also The Return of the Living Dead, From Beyond and other such genre movies that don’t revel in the hardcore but rather the mildly frighting and gleefully entertaining). While the performances/characters, monsters and that certain aforementioned cameo are all fantastic flourishes, it is the landscape of NYC that is the true hero here; each litter-strewn gutter, poorly lit street corner and abandoned sewer painting an environment not too dissimilar from the depressed milieu of Taxi Driver but used for a lighter purpose, and used to retain the memory of C.H.U.D. and what it stands for for a long while.
So, you love American horror? You’ll love C.H.U.D… just look at that above photo; how could you not?