Director: Douglas Cheek
Stars: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry
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.
CHUD is a 1984 film by director Douglass Cheek. Its a horror film where CHUD is an acronym for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Big Business has been dumping their toxic waste into the sewers beneath New York City. Since a bunch of hobos are living in those sewers, they evolve into crazy man-eating monsters, or Chuds.
John Heard is a photojournalist working on a story about New York’s underground hobo population but when he discovers the Chuds he decides that exposing the corrupt city government covering up the heinous deeds of big business is a much more important story. Daniel Stern is Reverend A.J. Shepherd, the proprietor of a soup kitchen whose regular patrons are either being killed by or becoming Chuds. Is this film, from the era of Reganomics, a statement about big bad corporations oppressing under privileged Americans?
A lot of major cities have hobo communities beneath them. I read an article recently about how the hobos in Las Vegas have created rather quaint, although cramped, apartments under the city. They don’t pay rent on these “homes” but its in a sewer – you know, the tunnels beneath urban areas that process shit and waste. Waste, like the kind companies create during production. That stuff belongs in the sewers. That is not potable water down there – its not a place fit for human habitation. Now that these hobos have moved into the sewers though its suddenly the company’s fault that waste they dump in the place waste is supposed to be dumped is hurting the people who chose to live in the shit tunnels.
Let’s say that a utility company has a big transformer somewhere. Of course they slap up all the necessary signs warning about high voltage and risk of deah and all that. Let’s say I ignore those very clear warnings, throw common sense out the window and storm on through. I would be electrocuted, die, and it would be my own damn fault. If we use CHUD-logic, however, that company should never have been using electricity because people are retarded and will ignore every single warning anyway.
Daniel Stern’s character is the true villain in this movie. He runs a soup kitchen and, on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s a benevolent altruist with nothing but love for his fellow man. After all, he is a reverend and living a life of self-sacrifice for others is just a part of the job, right? Well…. no. You see, this thoughtless asshole is friends with the hobos living in the sewers. He doesn’t say “Man, you are living in shit, literally in shit. Get outta there man.” Nope he just says “Have some soup.” When he finds out that his sewer dwelling buddies are turning into Chuds because of the waste – waste disposed of in the proper place using the proper methods I might add – he attacks the companies and the local government like this is some sort of grave injustice. “Hey! These hobos decided to live in your waste so you need to stop creating waste!” Might as well just try to get people to stop flushing toilets because all your hobo buddies are living in that too.
I had extraordinary difficulty feeling motivated to continue watching these characters and their struggle because they are all irrational idiots that defy any semblance of logic. “Oh no, the nice hobo turned into a Cud.” Well maybe he should have listened to the warnings and had a little common sense and not lived in the poison shit tunnels. Waste goes down there, not people. He did decide to live down there and now its everyone’s problem.
Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Very fitting title from the start. The hobos are human and live in makeshift underground dwellings. Whether they turn into zombie-monsters or not they are all cannibals. They demand sacrifice from everyone but themselves. “We’re going to live in the sewers so YOU need to make it habitable for us. YOU need to potentially bankrupt your business so I can live without offering you anything in return.” The Chuds just consume and consume the livelihood of others. Fucking Chuds.
John Heard is a fantastic actor. But watch Cutter’s Way or Cat People instead. Hell, watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2 so you get a double dose of Daniel Stern in there as well. Don’t watch CHUD.