Tuesday, May 15, 2012

C.H.U.D. (1984) and C.H.U.D. II - Bud of Chud (1989)

One of the reasons the 80's holds such a place in the hearts of horror fans is because it was a time with all kinds of charming little B-Movies. Films like "Motel Hell", "Night of the Creeps", the remake of "The Blob" and "Waxwork" have since remained cult favorites for good reason-they offered scares, laughs and/or a lot of heart that some feel is missing from today's genre films. "C.H.U.D." is one of those movies, a film that managed to win over the hearts of cult movie buffs with it's mix of grotesque monsters, nice sense of humor, effective atmosphere and strong performances. It's sequel "Bud of Chud" however, shouldn't have been made.

"C.H.U.D." deals with a series of strange murders that are going on in the streets of New York. Police Captain Bosch (Chris Curry) is at a loss for words as to who or what is committing these crimes. Soup Kitchen cook A.J. "The Reverend" Shepherd (Daniel Stern) seems to know an awful lot about whatever it is in the sewer systems. Photojournalist George Cooper (John Heard) is dealing with issues like his pregnant girlfriend, and has been tasked to help find out what's going on. Long story short, the murders are being committed by what is known as "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers", or C.H.U.D.s, and the government might have something to do with them...

Though it has some flaws (a few unresolved plot points, the story revolving around the girlfriend kinda drags it down at times), "C.H.U.D." is a fun little creature feature that benefits largely from some strong performances, especially from Stern, who makes for a likable guy who seems to care more about the city's homeless than most do. The creature effects are also great, all done via rubber suits, make-up effects, puppetry and anamatronics. There's even some fine atmosphere as well, mostly aided by the grimy streets of 80's era New York, a few choice moments of suspense and a strong electronic score from David A. Hughes (from Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.) Oh, and look for an amusing cameo from a pre-stardom John Goodman as a doomed policeman.

While "C.H.U.D." was a creature feature with moments of humor, "C.H.U.D. II - Bud of Chud" goes the full horror/comedy route-and gets damn near everything wrong. Here, a group of teens break into a a secret government science lab only to discover that-dun dun dun!-something rotten is going on! Anyways, they steal a corpse, but it turns out that it's a zombie like creature called a C.H.U.D. whose name happens to be Bud (groan), which soon gets loose and starts to infect others.

Pretty much a sequel in name only, "Bud of Chud" turns out to be a rather anemic film that changes the mythology of the first movie (C.H.U.D.s are now some kind of mutated zombie/vampire hybrid ala "Mutant") and thinks that pratfalls, idiotic characters and sub "Police Academy" humor is what the audience wants. I can understand the appeal of this movie, but I just found it all to be grating. None of the characters are remotely likable or interesting (Bud in particualr is annoying), it plays it too safe (it all plays out like a PG rated zombie movie-meaning nothing you want from a zombie movie is in this) and even the presence of lovable character and TV actors like Norman Fell, Robert Englund, Bianca Jagger and Robert Vaughn can't save it. To be fair, they all do good work, and I will admit that I got a few chuckles out of it, but most of it is pretty bad.

As a whole, fans of monster movies and 80's horror will find a lot to like about "C.H.U.D.", as it has enough going for it to make for a fun viewing. It's sequel however-well, if you find the "Police Academy" movies to be too sophisticated, than you'll probably enjoy this.

Ratings:

C.H.U.D.: 7/10
C.H.U.D. II - Bud of Chud: 3/10

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