C.H.U.D.

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E.C.McMullen Jr.
C.H.U.D.
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TIP JAR
C.H.U.D. - 1984
USA Release: AUG! 31, 1984
New World Pictures
Ratings: USA: R

A woman takes her little doggie for a walk down an abandoned, darkened street in the midst of a ratty area of the city. This is a bad idea at any time of course, and the woman gets attacked in a manner most Chudly - And her little dog too!

That morning, in the same dirty little part of the city, a street cleaner moves along the street, unwittingly erasing any evidence of Chudly Merry Mishap - At least above ground!

Street denizens move along the, well, street; talking to themselves. Others sit contemplating silent loss. Someone is taking photos of their misery.

The photographer is a guy named George (John Heard: CAT PEOPLE), and it soon becomes apparent that he's a big mouth, self-absorbed, inconsiderate jerk. But he has a soft side.

His girlfriend is a model named Lauren (Kim Greist: BRAZIL, MANHUNTER). It soon becomes apparent that she's way younger than George; gullible, frequently screwed over by him, but gets tough should anyone confront her man. Can these two co-dependent whack jobs ever find true love? Who knows? It's not that kind of movie.

Soon, George is throwing Lauren over right when she needs him most, to run to the aid of a bag lady.

Yeah, it's THAT kind of movie.

He finds baggy aka Mrs. Monroe (holed up in a police station where the local cops are sitting on a pretty damn big story. How big? Well, if you remember the start of this film, mere minutes before, you already know how big. C.H.U.D., in the capable hands of director Douglass Cheek and telling a story by Shepard Abbot and screenwriter Parnell Hall, wastes no time in getting to the point. And the point is this: something really freaking weird is taking place beneath the big city. What's more, a number of people are aware of it, though they don't know its extent. There is a lid of secrecy being kept on this problem that goes all the way up to the mayor's office - and then some.

C.H.U.D. starts near the bottom with the middle class folks who don't know what the upper class are keeping secret and have no idea what the poverty stricken street people are stricken by.

The middle is about to find out the worst.

Why would cops be tracking harmless street denizens? Why would it be an important issue that some middle class shmuck is friends with a street person? Captain Bosch (Christopher Curry: STARSHIP TROOPERS, RED DRAGON) finds himself getting the squeeze between the public he is supposed to serve and City Hall who holds his leash. In regards to the terror attacking the city, Captain Bosch knows more than most people, less than some, and wants to know exactly what is going on, especially since his wife disappeared a few nights ago while walking their dog.

Ahem!

Bosch comes across the self-styled Reverend A.J. Shepard (Daniel Stern: CAT PEOPLE, LEVIATHAN). A.J. is a filthy slob who runs a private soup kitchen, and is also aware of some kind of cover-up. A.J. is one step up from the street folk that he serves and as such, is not afraid to go to the police with his problems. But the cops are not helping: they already know. In fact, there are certain areas of the city that the cops refuse to go into. Odd because those very areas are just so dang low in crime!

Without question, C.H.U.D. is a rough directorial debut, but that is just the way Director Cheek wanted it. The entire film - every set - has a look of used filth about it. Many things about the movie could be better, but seriously, they aren't that bad at all. It kinda makes you wonder what the writers and director could have accomplished if they had only stayed with it. C.H.U.D. was the first and last effort for all of them. Cheek went on to editing and Shepard and Hall stopped with C.H.U.D.

The film has some ridiculous moments of course, but they are ridiculous in a cultural way, not a storytelling way. For example, when Lauren discovers she is pregnant, she wants to know what George thinks about it. George seems torn between facing responsibility and trying to be politically correct by putting the entire decision on Lauren, because it's her body. But Lauren, on the other hand, wants to know how George really feels about being a father, damn it. Just tell me already! George won't tell her because he doesn't want to influence her decision. Lauren, on the other hand, wants to know if George cares enough to stay and be a Pop to their child or if she'll have to go it alone...

Those crazy first world problems, eh?

The reason behind the Chuddly conspiracy is also pretty dumb, but is in perfect keeping with Hollywood's beloved yet stupid conspiracy movies: which continue virtually unchanged from then and all the way up to the present with goofy flicks like the remake of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and doofy TV fare like Masters of Horror: THE HOMECOMING. Except the difference for C.H.U.D. is, it doesn't take itself as serious intellectuallism.

Despite the negatives, C.H.U.D. is a fun monster movie creepfest and deserves its "classic" status.

Three Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2005 E.C.McMullen Jr.

C.H.U.D.
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