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Douglas Cheek
John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry
Writing Credits:
Parnell Hall

A bizarre series of murders in New York City seems to point toward the existence of a race of mutant cannibals living under the streets.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 86 min. (Theatrical Cut)
96 min. (Integral Cut)
Price: $34.95
Release Date: 11/22/2016

• Both Theatrical and “Integral” Cuts of Film
• Audio Commentary with Director Douglas Cheek, Writer Shepard Abbott and Actors John Heard, Daniel Stern and Christopher Curry
• Isolated Score/Composer Interview
• “A Dirty Look” Featurette
• “Dweller Designs” Featurette
• “Notes from Above Ground” Featurette
• Extended Shower Scene
• Behind the Scenes Gallery
• Trailer
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


C.H.U.D. [Blu-Ray] (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 23, 2016)

While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise posits the presence of do-gooding reptilian heroes who live in the sewers of NYC, 1984’s CHUD goes for a darker vibe. In its universe, the subterranean domain boasts the presence of Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers – or “CHUDs” for short.

Police Captain Bosch (Christopher Curry) gets a report of a missing person from soup kitchen operator AJ Shepherd (Daniel Stern). Shepherd tells Bosch that his homeless clients who live underground display more fear and report strange goings-on – and Bosch reveals that his wife disappeared, which makes these events more personal.

Photographer George Cooper (John Heard) knows one of the homeless people, an old woman named Mrs. Monroe (Ruth Maleczech). This leads George to learn about the mutant menace that stalks the sewers. Eventually, all parties investigate and deal with the threat of the CHUDs.

Most horror movies hurry through exposition to get to the violence. Apparently those filmmakers seem to think viewers lack the patience to wait for the action to ensue.

That attitude doesn’t afflict CHUD, a movie that takes exposition to a surprising extreme. We don’t actually see a CHUD until more than half an hour into the movie, and even then, the story continues to focus on plot domains without real action.

In this manner, CHUD seems to take its cues from an unlikely source: Jaws. While CHUD doesn’t act as an obvious remake of the 1975 classic, it shows more than a few similarities, some of which stem from the way it depicts its menace.

As was the case in Jaws, CHUD teases us with its threat. We get an abduction in the first scene – one that doesn’t show the culprit – and then finally see a CHUD at work around 35 minutes. We don’t get real on-screen involvement from the CHUDs until much later in the running time.

In Jaws - and other films like Alien - this slow build works, but it seems less effective for CHUD. In theory, I like the idea, as I think too many films ignore development, but CHUD can offer too much of a good thing.

Part of the issue stems from the semi-incoherent manner in which CHUD integrates its participants. In Jaws, three disconnected parties – Police Chief Brody, marine biologist Hooper and shark hunter Quint – come from different backgrounds to unite and deal with the threat.

Like Jaws, CHUD sets up in the same manner, as it follows the paths Cooper, Shepherd and Bosch take to confront the mutants. However, the film doesn’t connect them especially well. While I didn’t necessarily expect the three-men-against-nature progression of Jaws, I did think CHUD would unite Cooper, Shepherd and Bosch in a satisfying manner.

It doesn’t. The movie gives us occasional moments in which the various parties work together, but not many of these, and this leaves the story with an erratic approach to the material.

Too much of CHUD feels like three different movies blended into one, as it often presents the work of each lead as an island unto itself. Some of this seems fine, but the story would benefit from greater integration – especially if the movie brought the characters together earlier than it does.

That said, I think CHUD works reasonably well, partly because it offers an unusual horror tale. The main theme brings us something creative, so even though the flick nods toward other efforts, it still feels fairly original.

While I dislike the disjointed manner in which CHUD connects its leads, I feel it builds toward its climax in a pleasing manner. The decision to keep the CHUDs off-screen much of the time pays off well, as they come with greater impact since we see so little of them.

All that and a pre-fame appearance from John Goodman as “Diner Cop”! Nothing about CHUD places it among the horror greats, but the movie gives us an interesting tale that keeps us with it. Flaws aside, this becomes a pretty engaging thriller.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

CHUD appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. It should come as no surprise that CHUD looked like a low-budget movie from 1984.

Sharpness was adequate, as most of the movie came across as passably distinctive and concise. Wide shots tended to look somewhat indistinct, but the flick was acceptably defined for the majority of its running time. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and no edge enhancement was detected. As for source flaws, I thought the image looked clean.

Colors were passable. The film went with a low-key palette that favored blues, and the hues seemed average. Blacks were similarly decent but somewhat flat, and shadows tended to be a bit dense. The image had its ups and downs but was good enough for a “C+“.

When we moved to the film’s LPCM monaural soundtrack, it showed its age but usually sounded decent. Dialogue was adequate, as only occasional edginess affected the lines. Speech could’ve been more natural, but the lines seemed okay.

Music wasn’t particularly bold, but the score and songs showed reasonable clarity and vivacity. Effects seemed clean and without substantial distortion; though they didn’t have much kick, they reproduced the material well. While nothing here dazzled, the mix held up fine for a 32-year-old mono track.

This two-disc release includes two versions of CHUD. We get both the film’s Theatrical Cut (1:26:29) as well as an extended ”Integral” Cut (1:36:25). Because this Blu-ray represented my initial screening of the film, I can’t detail the differences.

I did want to mention the presence of both, though. Note that the film review above addresses the “Integral Cut”, not the theatrical version.

Alongside the “Integral Cut”, we find an audio commentary from director Douglas Cheek, writer Shepard Abbott and actors John Heard, Daniel Stern and Christopher Curry. All five sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and other topics.

Sort of. For the most part, the participants do little more than joke around and complain. Do we learn anything substantial about the movie across this commentary? Maybe, but I can’t think of many nuggets of value – this ends up as a loose chat that provides some entertainment but lacks real information.

We also find an Isolated Score/Composer Interview. Along with moderator Michael Felsher, composers Martin Cooper and David A. Hughes give us a discussion of musical influences and how they got into the business, aspects of their collaboration and their work on CHUD. The chat looks at the requisite topics well.

The interview fills the first 32 minutes of the film, and then the isolated score appears. Obviously this means the music doesn’t become scene-specific, but it’s still good to get the score in its (apparent) entirety.

A few featurettes follow. A Dirty Look goes for 19 minutes, 11 seconds and provides an interview with production designer William Bilowit. He covers how he got into movies as well as aspects of his work for CHUD and other parts of his experiences. Bilowit delivers an enjoyable chat replete with good observations about the film.

During the 12-minute, seven-second Dweller Designs, we hear from special makeup effects and creature creator John Caglione Jr.. Like Bilowit, he chats about his roots in show business as well as what he did for CHUD and related topics. This becomes another engaging discussion.


Notes from Above Ground, we locate a nine-minute, 10-second program with writer Michael Gingold and filmmaker Ted Geoghegan. They take a tour of CHUD locations and give us a little information about these spots. We learn some minor details about these spots, but don’t expect much real insight.

An Extended Shower Scene lasts one minute, 24 seconds. As far as I can tell, it only adds a few seconds of Kim Greist’s nude body double. That makes it worth a look.

A running Behind the Scenes Gallery goes for five minutes, 32 seconds. It focuses mainly on effects work but it also includes publicity materials and concept art. The “Gallery” works well.

In addition to the film’s Trailer, we find a Booklet. This piece includes photos, credits and an essay from Michael Gingold. The booklet completes the package well.

For a low-budget 1980s horror flick, CHUD proves to be above average. Despite some iffy storytelling choices, the movie builds well and delivers a good punch in the end. The Blu-ray offers mediocre picture and audio along with a mostly informative set of supplements. It’s not a classic, but CHUD entertains.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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