Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Film #59: C.H.U.D. (1984)

What does C.H.U.D. stand for?
Must be: Children Hiding Unstoppable Diarrhea.
That’s a hard thing to hide, especially from Mommy’s prying-eyes.

No? How bout:
Cute Humans Undressing Daily.
Come on, you’re saying even the Tuesday 2 pm to 6 pm strip shift is cute!?

Not that either, eh. Then it’s gotta be:
Corporate Hindus Undermining Democracy.
Gitmo is filled with button-downed Hindus trying to take down the USA, right?!

Ohhhh, I see, C.H.U.D. actually stands for:
Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.

This encoded name pretty much describes the plot of this week’s 1980s stop in horror time, “C.H.U.D.”
Grumpy New York City Police Captain Bosch gets even grumpier when a rash of missing person’s reports hits his neighborhood – including the disappearance of his own beloved wife.
When trying to get more resources for an investigation, Bosch gets the run around from the police chief and city mayor. Now why would they want to prevent an investigation?

Bosch aims to find out. He discovers that several of the reported missing persons are homeless people who live in the underground labyrinth of NYC’s train, sewer and utility tunnels.
Former criminal turned soup kitchen reverend A.J. Shepherd reported several of his underground patrons missing, and Bosch smells a lead.
Soon Shepherd helps Bosch investigate the situation by leading him through the NYC underground.

Meanwhile photojournalist George Cooper, who recently did a story on the underground livers, gets pulled into the mystery by his former sources who claim they’ve seen monsters running through their tunnel-hovels.
Cooper, Shepherd and Bosch discover the Environment Protection Agency and Department of Energy are also actively investigating in the tunnels. But what would these government types be looking for down there?

I’m gonna bet some Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. These C.H.U.Ds are former homeless people who mutated into fanged, clawed, and cuddly creatures thanks to large amounts of radioactive waste dumped down the sewer.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles these ain’t!

Will Bosch and his misfit team track down their missing loved ones?
Is the government to blame for the horrific creatures feasting underground?
Were even the models in the 80s unattractive?
Find out, in 1984’s city-grime coated “C.H.U.D.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews:

C-Rating: 3.0
Chris Dimick chuds:
“Is Uncle Sam the kind of relative who as a kid taught you how to swing a baseball bat… or the kind that hustled you out of your paper route money in a game of Three-Card Monty?

The folks behind C.H.U.D. seem to believe in the latter, and they are not alone. The 1980s horror genre is filled with references to corrupt, untrustworthy government, the kind of federal organization that trashes the environment, spits on the little guy in the name of absolute power, and oozes with glib corruption, nepotism, and shoddy morals.
In C.H.U.D, the government cover-up of spilled nuclear waste comes at the expense of innocent civilians. But above this plot, the film asks the question; can we trust our government at all?

As a collection of human beings, the federal government is bound to make many mistakes. Also, an organization that large is bound to be rife with inefficiencies and lack coordination between departments.
But these inherit foibles are very different than a government that works solely to benefit its own high-rank members, and not the people it represents.

Democracy is not perfect. Far from it. But it is the system that makes the most sense. Sure, majority ruling doesn’t always lead to the best choices being followed. Just because a group of people believes something is just and right doesn’t mean that ideology is true.

But this is why we have free speech, the right to public protest. Don’t like what your government is doing or saying, rally up some like minded Americans and throw the bums out! Seems like the Middle East is finally getting this.

Problem is, rooting out corruption isn’t that simple. With seemingly endless financing and iron-fisted power, government officials and agencies can easily blow smoke up citizen’s asses while corruptly doing whatever they please to get ahead – far from the eyes of anyone who isn’t on the take.

But what is the alternative? Anarchy? Yeah, maybe. Get rid of them all, we can run this thing ourselves, right?! We don’t need the government to tell us to wear seat belts, or force us to wear pants, or make us pay taxes!

We also don’t need them to ensure our water supply remains toxin free, or run prisons so criminals are kept out of the populous, or monitor nuclear energy facilities and weapons, or… wait, we do need that.

Anti-government talk always brings to mind this brilliant Whitest Kids U Know sketch, which asks just what would happen if anarchy prevailed:

I cheer C.H.U.D. and films like it that call out government corruption. In addition to this attribute, the film was a fun look at grimy, trashed 1980s inner city New York. The best part of the movie was the seriousness the plot, actors and situations demands from its audience.

Most 1980s horror movies took themselves very seriously, and with great effect. You almost forget the city is terrified by radioactive mutants from below snacking on humans. The more they played the situation as real, the more it seemed plausible.

These films came before all the self-aware horror films of the 1990s, spawned mainly by Scream – with its wink-wink-I-know-I’m-a-horror-movie-with-a-soft-plot-but-we’re-having-fun-right? take on the genre. CHUDs are loose and eating people! This is serious business people, the movie screamed. And you know what, it makes you feel its serious. To boot, Daniel Stern and John Heard turned in their best performances this side of Home Alone (Heard was the McCallister Dad in Home Alone, Stern one of the Wet Bandits).

But while films like these remind viewers to double-check the work of our government, they shouldn’t encourage thoughts of abandoning the governmental system all together (Crowd says: “they shouldn’t encourage thoughts of abandoning the governmental system”… sorry, Airplane reference.)

Can we trust our government? Probably not. Should we trust our government? Yes, but not without a firm stink-eye planned on those who handle its business.
The ideals of democracy are greater than any human race can ever achieve… but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to achieve them. After all, society has progressed too deep for the non-government alternative.

Like him or not, Uncle Sam is part of our family. But that doesn’t mean we can’t teach him some manners.”

N-Rating: 1.9
Nick Rich chuds:
“Right out the gate I have to apologize to any of the C.H.U.D.s out there reading this - this rating is not exactly fair. Like many things in life, my viewing of C.H.U.D. was flavored by the state in which I found myself in while experiencing it... and that state was one of extreme exhaustion:

You see, things have been a bit tiring on the west coast end of the RDHP with things such as dwelling shifts, tsunami warnings and 'clock dancing' to concern myself with - thanks a lot Ben Franklin! (BFF's we are not, but he may fall back into my good graces.)

In any case, I was not in top mental condition when I had the privilege of screening C.H.U.D. - well, I assume it was a privilege... I mean, there were cool 80s actors, grimy surroundings, agitated New Yorkers, subsurface dwelling monsters, what's not to like right? At least that's what I kept telling myself in hopes of coercing my brain into staying awake during this viewing, but apparently C.H.U.D. was not saucy enough to awaken my gray matter from its slumber cravings; hence the 1.8 rating.

To be honest, I hold its inability to keep me mentally engaged against C.H.U.D. (that, and the fact that having a period after each letter in its name makes it the most annoying movie title to type in the history of the RDHP). Movies are supposed to excite and engage the mind, to flood it with all sorts of ooey-gooey chemicals your brain can't help but secrete because of what its being shown on the screen! C.H.U.D. made my organ of imagination feel neither ooey or gooey and even if at the time of the viewing I felt thin, like butter spread over too much bread there no excuse for that!

While the story was mildly appealing, there was just something lacking in the execution of this flick. The monsters didn't instill terror, you didn't care about the peril the characters were in and the conspiracy in the movie was clichéd... perhaps they should have made the C.H.U.D.'s goth to spice things up:

Or have them trapped in the 70s (now that's scary!):

Now that would have kept me awake (especially if they were carrying boom-boxes blaring The Cure or Bee-Gees). See? I can be kept awake when the dream fairies are relentlessly ravaging my mind! It doesn't take Cure-esq monsters to do so either, there are plenty of commonplace things that can keep me awake when I am slumber inclined, such as:
  • Being shot at
  • Flossing properly
  • The prospect of finding the end of the rainbow over the next hill
  • Riding the bus downtown
  • The threat of death if I fall asleep
  • Being at Comic-Con
Unfortunately, as I learned, C.H.U.D. is not one of those things (its especially unfortunate that C.H.U.D. is not Comic-Con... I really wish it was Comic-Con).

Hrm. Maybe they got the translation of C.H.U.D. wrong in the movie... I have a sneaking suspicion it really stands for Can Harken Unconsciousness Definitively. That would make a lot more sense considering... consid - ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzz..... zzzzz....

Disclaimer: No C.H.U.D.'s were harmed in the writing of this review. All haircare products and cosmetics used were to enhance what the C.H.U.D.'s were 'already working with' and resulted in increased self-confidence.

The Skinny: Check this flick out to study the 80s mustache in its natural habitat, or if you'd like to do a NASA-level test on sleep resistance after being awake for 36 hours straight.

Things We Learned From C.H.U.D.:
-Street-sweepers are futile.
-Fun answering machine messages were once important.
-1980s panties are “foul.”
-Fashion perfume smells like “sheep dip.”
-Police station scenes in the 80s must have random prostitutes in the background scenery.
-No modern man would have a 1980s woman.
-It’s not fair to bring a child into the world if it has a zombie father.
-Every 80s actor appeared in C.H.U.D., even John Goodman.
-The sequel to this movie should have been named “C.H.U.D. 2: Still Chuddin’.”
-Don’t trust the government.
-The power of the press is a powerful thing:

Quote of the Viewing:
[A mustached NYC police sergeant screams at Cpt. Bosch to drop the missing person’s case and move on to other crimes. His mustache twitches with rage.]

Nick: “The mustache isn’t happy, Bosch.”
Chris: It’s constantly frowning, actually.

RDHP Presents:
Reasons to Trust Your Government
You bunch of pinko commie terrorists! Not trusting your own government, are we? Well, why don’t you just move your stinkin’ butts to Russia if you dislike the old U.S. of A. government so much?
Not that anyone should have to, but here are 10 reasons why you should blindly love and trust your trusty government. Read this twice, and then curl into a wet pile of patriot tears! And that’s an order!

1. They never, ever make mistakes!

2. They trust youuuuuu!

3. They smell like Grandpa’s corncob pipe and a summer breeze.

4. They're great with handling your money!

5. Environment is their first priority.

6. They’ve never spoken a lie.

7. Uncle Sam has such a friendly face.

8. Who else is going to protect you in the Zombie Apocalypse?

9. They’ve undisputedly won 3 out of 7 of the last century’s wars. 43 percent ain’t bad!

10. One word: Nukes (they can point at your town)

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