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Reviewed March 25th, 2001 by Todd Terwilliger


Something below the streets of New York is killing homeless people. When ordinary citizens begin disappearing as well, the heat is on to find and stop the menace. That menace is CHUD. CHUD stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers and the name pretty much says it all. CHUD has been something of a cult classic, a member of the great pantheon of '80s B-movies.

John Heard and Daniel Stern star as two men approaching the menace from different sides. Heard, as photographer George Cooper, had photographed a group of the underground homeless (undergrounders) who become central to the CHUD mystery. The Reverend (Stern) is an ex-con who runs a soup kitchen and becomes concerned when many of his regulars begin to vanish.

CHUD, in the tradition of the great monster movies of the 1950s and '60s, is, in essence, a cautionary tale. The plot holds up surprisingly well. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the CHUD themselves. The years have not been kind to them. What little fear factor CHUD may have possessed has long since left them. Still, it works in part because of these failings. What would CHUD be without its cheesiness?

The video, looks surprisingly good, almost too good, for a film like CHUD. It is far from perfect, however. All the usual gremlins, such as scratches and grain, make appearances throughout the film but without too ill an effect. Colors are reproduced with accurate fidelity (the green rubbery CHUD skin looks convincingly green and rubbery). The widescreen (1.77:1) transfer is anamorphic, a nice touch even though the aspect ratio is barely widescreen.

CHUD sounds decent. The Dolby Digital Mono is no frills, but it maintains clarity throughout the soundtrack. Obviously, there is no surround usage at all and zero bass but this isn't a film that demands such things. The soundtrack does its job, just don't ask for anything over the top.

Anchor Bay manages to bring us a really great audio commentary for the disc, featuring stars Heard and Stern, plus the director and writer. Sometimes commentaries feel forced, as if the participants would rather spend the time getting a root canal then watching their own film. Not the case here, all the participants have fun reminiscing over the movie and the experience making it. It's a great job. Additionally, there is also an original trailer and a collection of photo stills.

You can define people into two categories, those who know CHUD and those who don't. It's one of those films, like the CHUD themselves, that lives in the depths below the mainstream and surfaces only from time to time. It isn't a great movie but it's fun, a true Saturday matinee.


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