The Test of Time: C.H.U.D. (1984)

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

We all have certain movies we love. Movies we respect without question because of either tradition, childhood love, or because they’ve always been classics. However, as time keeps ticking, do those classics still hold up? Do they remain must see? So…the point of this column is to determine how a film holds up for a modern horror audience, to see if it stands the Test of Time.

Director: Douglas Cheek
Starring: John Heard, Daniel Stern, and Christopher Curry

When it comes to a place like the sewers, it’s something most folks don’t really want to think about. Which makes sense and all because it’s…you know, the sewer. Dark, damp, and disgusting. However, thanks to those TMNT, kids from a couple generations equate the sewer with something kinda cool. A place to hang out, eat pizza, and engage in ninja battles. With their latest sewer adventure TMNT: OUT OF THE SHADOWS hitting theaters (didn’t try too hard on that title, did they?) what a better time to see if a cheap horror movie about street people living in the sewer can hold up against the test of time.

Under the examination: C.H.U.D.

Those are eyes to get lost into. 

THE STORY: C.H.U.D. begins when some poor woman out walking her dog wanders near a manhole where a mysterious, cannibalistic creature snatches her for dinner. Then we meet HOME ALONE’s John Heard as sleeveless sweatshirt photographer George Cooper who might have a hot model girlfriend Lauren (Kim Greist), but he wants to make a difference and help the homeless living underground. He once was a big time photog, but now he wants to help others (or something like that). He eventually teams up with a police captain named Bosch (Christopher Curry) and homeless enthusiast “The Reverend” (the great Daniel Stern) who want to help. The deeper they go into the sewers and dig for information, the bigger the conspiracy and the more creatures they find.

Next time, don't take so long to make a call.

WHAT STILL HOLDS UP: A film like C.H.U.D. is the reason why everyone is deathly afraid of the sewers. Or at least should be as I would have to assume that for some people it could be the most frightening concept ever. The idea that not only do creatures dwell in the sewers, but cannibalistic monsters live and kill, well, that’s a terrible thought. And a good premise for a movie.

Director Douglas Cheek only made one horror movie, but he managed to leave an impact with this one as what works best about C.H.U.D. comes from its social commentary. Granted, it’s not the highest level of storytelling here, but sometimes the horror genre is adept at sneaking in some thoughts about societal injustice. C.H.U.D. at least tries to make a point by addressing the homeless population problem, showing most “normal” people don’t really give a damn about them. Oh sure, we say we care, but if a homeless man goes missing, Nancy Grace doesn’t do 14 weeks of coverage. That’s the main power of C.H.U.D.: it actually has something to say.

But thankfully, Cheek did understand he was making a horror movie, so there’s plenty of effectively creepy moments, which mainly happen when the sewer folks get the munchies. Unlike so many films that mistakenly show the creature too damn soon, C.H.U.D. (no doubt thanks to the $1.25 million budget) keeps the cannibal creatures in the shadows, which only heightens the tension. And let’s face it. The creatures don’t look that great when we do see them. Imagine how shitty they’d look in daylight.

This is why I wear googles in the shower.

WHAT BLOWS NOW: Ok, so C.H.U.D. falls into the category of the premise and poster is probably better than the end result. The movie is actually kinda boring and even though we have a photographer, a police captain, a homeless man, a model, corrupt city folks, and cannibal sewer people, they’re all dull characters. Some of them have their moments (with Daniel Stern being the standout), but each end up being flat characters.

Even worse, C.H.U.D., despite the fact that I dig the social issues presented, ends up almost being too damn preachy…and no one likes getting preached to. Yes, the issues at hand are important, but let’s not forget this is still a horror flick. I want a little more entertainment with it.

THE VERDICT: I give C.H.U.D. props for wanting to do something to better the world. But 30 years after the release, it’s not only dated, but kinda boring.


This is a poster. 

Source: Arrow in the Head

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