Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New York Notes on the Underground, or Thoughts on C.H.U.D.

Much like Snakes on a Plane (2006), Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009) or Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972), C.H.U.D. (1984) is one of those movies where the title tells you everything you need to know before you even see the trailer.  One of my all-time favorite acronyms, C.H.U.D. stands Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, and that’s exactly what you get and all you really need.
Much like a low-brow, low budget 80’s Mimic (1997, and Guillermo del Toro’s first US movie) with slimy lizard hands reaching out from a manhole cover waiting to drag you under, the CHUDs (because I know that’s the only reason you’d watch this movie) were once human, and are now mutated by the same toxic waste radiation that makes Ninja Turtles or the zombies in Return of The Living Dead (1985).  They’re not exactly frightening, with glowing eyes, shark teeth and big green alien heads, and very obviously a guy in a suit.  I don’t have a philosophical objection to a guy in a suit; Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) was a guy in a suit (Ricou Browning), and so was the Alien from Ridley Scott’s seminal Alien (1976) was also a guy in a suit (Nigerian actor Bolaji Badejo if you care, and I know you do, he was 6’10”).
John Heard stars as one of those freelance New York photographers whot still somehow manages to score a cool downtown loft (it was the ‘80s) doing a photo series on the homeless.  You know he’s a photographer because he has one of those vests with lots of pockets.  Kim Griest is Lauren, his model girlfriend.  There’s a missing persons epidemic among the street people that the police are ignoring under orders from the Mayor, but luckily John Heard is there to investigate.
C.H.U.D. is unfortunately not as frightening or claustrophobic as The Descent (2005) in its depiction of a subterranean homeless underworld of abandoned subway tunnels and sewer lines, but it’s a nice period piece and example of New York in the ‘80s.  So much exposition is supplied by outdated and now sentimental tech like answering machines, land lines, and phone booths. 
Featuring Daniel Stern (Home Alone was only 6 years away, coincidentally with co-star John Heard), as AJ, a sketchy reverend running a soup kitchen.  Also look out for a young John Goodman in one of his first movies as “Diner Cop” and Jon Polito from Highlander (1986), The Crow (1994) and The Big Lebowski (1998) as a newscaster.



my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 volume supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.

read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).