Director: Douglas Creek
Starring: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Griest, J.C. Quinn, Michael O’Hare & George Martin
Released by: Arrow Video
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Beneath the seedy depths of New York City, C.H.U.D. awaits! Following the disappearance of countless citizens including a police captain’s wife, monstrous beings residing in the city tunnels stalk their unsuspecting prey. When the concerned captain (Christopher Curry, Red Dragon), a prominent photographer (John Heard, Home Alone) and a soup kitchen operator (Daniel Stern, Bushwhacked) band together to expose the truth, terror invades the streets.
With its campy acronym fueling its decades long reputation, C.H.U.D. stands tall as a radioactive slice of creature featuretainment that captures the glory days of the Big Apple’s graffiti-stained era where poverty and danger reigned. While the titular monsters may appear less than expected for such a B-movie treasure, their calculated appearances allow the film to craft a much stronger narrative than it deserves surrounding a trio of city souls from different walks of life. After a spike in persons, predominately the homeless, go missing, police Captain Bosch, coping with own wife’s disappearance, finds a lead when soup kitchen operator A.J. Shepherd alerts him of a growing number of underground residing friends missing in action. Earning praise for his photographs of the city’s street people and trust from his subjects, George Cooper finds himself entangled in their dilemma after setting sights on their gruesomely fanged attackers. Political coverups, a stock supply of toxic waste permeating under the city streets and the multiplying hazard of cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers threatens the safety of all around resulting in the trio of believers to stop them. Featuring early appearances from John Goodman (Argo) and Sam McMurray (Freaks and Geeks) as New York’s finest, C.H.U.D. oozes tight pacing, impressive creature effects and a splash of pertinent social commentary that joyously reeks of a city that has all but been lost to time.
Newly restored in 2K, Arrow Video presents C.H.U.D. with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Retaining its gritty edge with occasional sequences appearing softer than others, unsightly blemishes in the form of scuffs or scratches are absent while, skin tones and facial closeups reveal natural shades and sharp detail especially in the film’s killer creatures. In addition, textures in costumes and the uncared for city backgrounds read nicely with black levels seen throughout the dark city sewers and tunnels presented with the utmost clarity. Equipped with an LPCM 1.0 mix, dialogue is audibly exchanged with no hisses present while, the synth-heavy score sounds terrific. Although not wholly impressive given its limited soundscape, the track is more than adequate.
Featuring the film’s Integral Cut (1:36:25) on Disc 1 and its Original Theatrical Cut (1:26:29) on Disc 2 (included as a limited edition exclusive), special features include, a vintage Audio Commentary with Director Douglas Creek, Writer Shepard Abbot and Actors John Heard, Daniel Stern & Christopher Curry plus, an Isolated Score and Audio Interviews with Composers Martin Cooper & David A. Hughes. Furthermore, Red Shirt Pictures rolls up their sleeves with such newly produced extras as A Dirty Look with William Bilowit (19:11) where the production designer discusses his origins in documentaries before transitioning with such films as, Nightmare, Creepshow and of course, C.H.U.D. Dweller Designs with John Caglione, Jr. (12:07) sits down with the film’s special make-up effects and creature designer while, Notes from Above Ground: The NYC Locations C.H.U.D. (9:10) finds Writer/Director Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) and Writer/Editor of Rue Morgue Michael Gingold touring the film’s shooting spots today. Finally, a Behind-the-Scenes Gallery (5:32), an Extended Shower Scene (1:24), the Original Theatrical Trailer (1:36), a 22-page booklet featuring a new essay from Michael Gingold and Reversible Cover Art utilizing the film’s original 1-sheet poster conclude the supplemental offerings.
Smart, slimy and downright entertaining, C.H.U.D. has remained in the upper pantheons of cult cinema’s good graces for over three decades with its mutant-like creatures and capturing of New York’s hellish days prime examples of its charm. Resurrected from the sewers with a crisp 2K scan, multiple cuts and a well-supplied stock of bonus features, Arrow Video gives fans the ultimate reason to continue partying in the underground!
Available November 22nd from Arrow Video, C.H.U.D. can be purchased via Amazon.com
and other fine retailers.