Before the acronym C.H.U.D. (cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller) became widely used as an insult toward those deemed reminiscent of mole people, the term first appeared in the 1984 cult classic of the same name. The many references to ‘C.H.U.D.’ in other movies and TV shows may be more popular than the movie itself. However, if you’re looking to indulge in a pulpy horror flick as Halloween approaches, take a nosedive into the fascinating sewers of popular entertainment with ‘C.H.U.D.’. The movie is today’s Throwback Thursday, a column where ScienceFiction.com looks at sci fi from the past.
In 2002 following the DVD release of ‘C.H.U.D’, producer Andrew Bonime established the website CHUDFacts.com to talk about the movie’s production and to essentially set the record straight regarding false rumors about the production. A script for ‘C.H.U.D.’ first landed in Bonime’s hands written by Shepard Abbott. However, mystery writer Parnell Hall was later hired once Bonime realized Abbott wasn’t delivering a quality script to show to investors and distributors. During shooting, actors Daniel Stern and Christopher Curry rewrote parts of the script and even improvised an integral scene where the viewers learn that the acronym C.H.U.D. also stands for something else. Stern and Curry attest that the final cut of the movie is largely their rewrite and are listed as uncredited writers on the film.
Bonime originally intended for ‘C.H.U.D.’ to be similar to ‘Alien’ in design and quality. Tim Boxell (comic book artist and director of ‘Aberration’) was initially brought in to create designs of the C.H.U.D. monster. However, due to the movie’s budget, Boxell’s designs never made it past the concept stage. Makeup artist John Caglione (‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Dick Tracy’) was brought in to create the C.H.U.D. effects makeup. You can actually take a look at Boxell’s original designs and John Caglione’s plaster casts on my new favorite website, CHUDFacts.com.
The film is set in New York City where photographer George Cooper (John Heard), police captain Bosch (Curry), and the head of a homeless shelter nicknamed The Reverend (Stern) become increasingly concerned over the disappearance of homeless people who lodge in the underground recesses of the city. It turns out that radioactive toxic waste within the sewers are turning people into horrific and monstrous mutants who feed on other human beings.
A direct-to-video sequel to ‘C.H.U.D.’, ‘C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D’, was released in 1989.
Compared to other horror movies, it does seem to take a while to get the momentum going in ‘C.H.U.D’. However, once the underground mutant cannibals see the light of day, the results are pretty sensational and definitely not as hauntingly realistic as, say, a most recent episode of ‘The Walking Dead’. ‘C.H.U.D.’ is a definite must-watch if you’re into 80‘s horror. Take a look at the trailer!