The Internet is a strange and wonderful place. I say that because I find the habits that it makes people develop intensely interesting. Upon some self reflection the biggest changes that the ubiquitization of internet has brought about in me is how I consume media. I mean this in both the I’m-sitting-in-front-of-Netflix-for-ten-hours-watching-West-Wing way and in an I’m-going-to-buy-a-bunch-of-weird-DVDs-on-Amazon-at-4am-and-regret-it-the-next-day way. Both habits are ones that I’ve form since the Internet has really become and everyday tool in my life utility belt. Well, that and like the rest of the planet needlessly checking social media accounts far too frequently.
One of the best I’m-going-to-buy-a-bunch-of-weird-DVDs-on-Amazon-at-4am-and-regret-it-the-next-day binges that didn’t actually end in regret and tears was when I bought a bunch of homeless exploitation movies on a whim. Yes, that’s right. There are homeless exploitation movies. And I spent hard earned American currency on them. And didn’t regret it.
The two flicks that really stick in my mind are Street Trash, from 1987, and C.H.U.D., from 1984. We’re going to primarily be discussing C.H.U.D. in all of its glory. We’ll do Street Trash’s Technicolor gorefest at a later date.
So, C.H.U.D. most of the information that one would need to make a responsible decision about consumption is right in the name. How so, you ask? Well, C.H.U.D. is obviously an acronym standing for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. I think that right there evokes one of two responses in a potential viewer. My first reaction was decidedly, “Oh, of course that’s what C.H.U.D. stands for. It couldn’t stand for anything else. I must see this movie.” I’m assuming if you’re here reading this that your reaction is something similar. However, I’ve tried to show this brilliant piece of cinematic history to people who have been stumped by the Underground Dwellers. They hear what the acronym stands for and they’re instantly ready to watch something else. And that’s fine. Super awesome sewer creatures who survive on eating homeless people aren’t for everyone I suppose.
The film’s plot is pretty simple. It revolves around a photographer named George Cooper, who is played by John Heard, who has connections to the local homeless community. He eventually unearths the fact that there’s something in the sewers other than drunken homeless dudes and we’re off to the races.
The film is a gritty bumper cart ride of dead homeless people and angry photojournalists. The saving grace in all of this? Practical effects to the rescue, my friend. The C.H.U.D.s look awesome. Mostly because they’re dudes in suits. Their design isn’t exactly mind blowing they’re just dude in head to toe latex, but head to toe latex is cool. So who cares?
The best part of the movie is its high concept and name. The film itself is enjoyable and definitely rewatchable but it’s not Dead Alive or Army of Darkness, in terms of a piece of media that almost requires you to be obsessed with it. I love C.H.U.D. I still have it in my collection after multiple purges. But I think I still own it because of the idea of it rather than the actual movie. There’s something so instantly communicable about C.H.U.D. that when it comes time to actually execute the idea it feels sadly ephemeral. Who cares about seeing a really fun halfway decent 80’s horror movie? I just want to have C.H.U.D. explained to me for the first time over and over again. There’s nothing better than the realization of what a Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller is.