THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Directed by Douglas Creek
"C.H.U.D. is stupidly great example of what a quality B movie can be"
Somehow, C.H.U.D. feels like the B movie that folks ever hate or love (which is a stupid statement as most B movies people either love or hate but I’ll roll with it). It’s such a simple, half-dumb, half-socially aware film that it ends up interestingly entertaining, even when shit just gets silly.
To start, what works best about C.H.U.D. comes from its social commentary. Ok, sure, it doesn’t get all Apocalyptic Now or anything, but it at least tries to make a point about something wrong within the landscape by shining a light on the homeless population problem, by showing how the world has forgotten them. When someone “normal” goes missing, people pay attention. But if a homeless dude vanishes, well, it just happens.
And that’s the power of the film.
Sure, the gore (quite of bit of it along with a lot of various leftover body parts), the monsters (which look like rejected The Thing monsters) and the wonderful overacting round it all off for entertainment value, but this is one of the few horror flicks that carries a social agenda without getting too in our faces with it. The end product might be too damn goofy to take it seriously, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
The flick stars John Heard (who most people probably remember from Home Alone) as photographer George Cooper, whose career has seen better days. He once only shot the beautiful people, where he met his model girlfriend Lauren (Kim Greist). However, he’s a man who wants to make a difference, so now he’s only shooting those in need, more specially the homeless who live underground. Working with him (eventually) is a police Captain Bosch (Christopher Curry) and the man known as “The Shepard” (the great and nearly forgotten Daniel Stern, also Home Alone). John Goodman makes a brief appearance as a cop with an appetite.
It’s Stern, though, who steals the show as the loony guy running a homeless shelter. He’s seen enough in his day, so now he’s a damn-the-man type, always in people’s faces, always pushing, always angry at the system. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve seen him play a role outside his usual reign, so it’s great to see him.
C.H.U.D. has some great tension throughout the film, which it doesn’t waste time showing off. The movie begins in the back shadowy alleys as some poor woman out walking her dog. Unlucky for her, she happens to wander near a manhole where the mysterious, cannibalistic creatures snatch her for dinner.
Director Douglas Creek does a great job building up the anticipation of the monsters. We barely see them at all until the third act, building the up the terror little by little, disappearance after disappearance. It's not the same, but this could have easily been an episode of The X-Files. Ok, so the plot gets a little messy the longer it goes and things end up a bit too standard issue by the end, but C.H.U.D. is stupidly great example of what a quality B movie can be: gory, overtop, and socially aware.