As a Halloween treat, I decided to watch a campy so bad it’s good horror film. A couple of years ago Criterion Collection decided as an April Fool’s joke to announce that C.H.U.D. was going to be in their collection. The nerd community was in a joyous uproar only to have their hopes dashed when it turned out to be fake. I didn’t know what this movie was before I heard the news, but ever since it has been on my radar.

C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Human Underground Dweller. Basically this is a riff on a monster movie. Something goes bump in the night and they are homeless people who have been exposed to nuclear radiation. A cranky photographer, a fuck the man soup kitchen operator and a police captain investigate separately the odd developments in their clientele. Lots of underground tunnels are explored, angry monologues are uttered and murky goings on are covered up. All in all some great stuff happens on-screen.

This movie could only have been made in the Reagan era, the same era that coined the phrase “welfare queen.” Poor were routinely demonized and then ignored by several different governmental officials. This film warns that if you ignore the poor long enough, they will rise up and eat you. Combine this with increased paranoia about radioactive materials and you have a sticky situation.

Everyone in this film oozes with earnestness. Each word is stressed with the same amount of vigor and convention. This results in some silly exchanges that seem to carry the same weight as real plot development dialogue.

The film wasn’t full of laughs at the actors expense or extremely gory imagery. It was mostly a film that took a silly subject ultra seriously and only half succeeds. But I had a good time and that it is all that matters in for these films.


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