C.H.U.D. Douglas Cheek

C.H.U.D. Douglas Cheek
Repackaged as an instalment in the "Cult Classic Film Series,” this version of C.H.U.D. is disappointingly the 2001 edition with a fancy cardboard sleeve. This means all we get is the same widescreen presentation, a commentary and "behind the scenes” stills as before — but then again, we are talking about C.H.U.D. One of the more memorable horror b-movies from the ’80s (The Simpsons has referenced it thrice), Douglas Cheek’s surprising masterpiece is ironically affecting in today’s global crisis. Though we might be a few decades away from the threat of "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers,” the Reagan era scared up this darkly amusing and often campy, but still very creepy, tale about a government nuclear cover up that results in the homeless being transformed into sewer-dwelling, flesh-eating inhumanoids. John Heard stars as a photographer who stumbles into investigating, along with soup kitchen hippie Daniel Stern, missing persons and a mysterious subterranean presence attacking the homeless. The dirty make-up and modest effects work in tandem with the seedy NYC locations to set the grim tone, but the histrionic performances, unprofessional action sequences and the hilarious rise of the C.H.U.D.s out of the gutters give this film its immortality as a cult classic. Even better is the commentary track with Heard, Stern, Cheek and Christopher Curry, which from the beginning is a series of cracks at the film’s expense, largely due to the unhinged Stern, who calls his brother an asshole and ingrate while asking important questions like: "Why wasn’t someone watching my fucking hairdo?” and "Why did I get this part?” If ever a film was as good as its commentary, or vice versa, this is it. (Anchor Bay)