The Film (3.5/5)
I can't pretend C.H.U.D. is a masterpiece of horror cinema, however, it is something I have enjoyed watching since I was about 12 years old, and have wanted on Blu-ray since there has been a Blu-ray format. We have finally gotten the film on Blu-ray, and not only that, the film comes courtesy of Arrow Video which has developed a stellar reputation as one of the high quality marks for horror on high definition media.
C.H.U.D. is an interesting film, it sort of plays out like the intersection of a government conspiracy thriller and a horror-comedy without the suspense of the former, or the successful blend of comedy/horror the latter. That might seem like a complaint, but C.H.U.D. exist in an odd place. The film has an odd watchable charm to it, that keeps me coming back to it year after year.
The film stars John Heard (After Hours, Home Alone) as George Cooper a former fashion photographer who has recently become famous because of a photo essay he did on New York's underground homeless population. Those very same homeless are now becoming scared because of some unknown horror going on in the sewers and subways underneath the city. Cooper begins to explore the city with the homeless inhabitants, but also with the assistance of shelter employee A.J. Shepard (Daniel Stern) who suspects something truly bizarre (and radioactive) is going on underneath the city. A.J. takes this information to a snooping police detective, who gets higher government officials involved.
C.H.U.D. is sort of a slow burn of a creature feature horror film. The film opens with a mostly unseen C.H.U.D. attacking a women from obscurity underneath a manhole. After that we do not see them for much of the film until the film's third act. The C.H.U.D.'s themselves are the definition of rubber suited monsters and look cheesy as hell. This might be a put off to some viewers. I, on the other hand love this sort of thing. The performances from the main cast are FANTASTIC. They take every ounce of this weirdness seriously, and it helps to really sell the film.
The direction from Douglas Cheek is nothing to write home about, it's mostly workmanlike, but gets the job done. The pacing is obviously a bit off, but they didn't have a lot of money to put a ton of monsters and horror on screen, so they made this more about the characters and their lives for part of the film. So we get bits about George Cooper and his newly pregnant girlfriend Lauren (Kim Griest), and other segments detail A.J. and Captain Bosch (Christopher Curry) and their dealings with the NYC government trying to get to the bottom of what's going on underneath the city. In some films it would slow things down, and occasionally it does here, but for the most part C.H.U.D. just plays well throughout it’s entire running time.
Arrow Video has included an Integral version of the film that adds in a lot of cut footage. This is on disc one. There is a theatrical version on disc 2 that is minus 10 minutes. Both versions are presented 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. They were scanned using a 35mm print of the film, and considering the source look quite good, and are definitely an upgrade from DVD editions. Detail is quite decent here, blacks are deep for the most part, and colors are quite natural. Grain is rendered well, but occasionally overwhelming in the films darker moments. That should be expected considering the source.
The audio is presented with an LPCM mono track in English. The track is quite serviceable with dialogue and score coming through nicely.
The disc kicks off with 2 commentary tracks. The first track ported over from the prior edition contains John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Douglas Cheek, and Shepard Abbott. This track is hysterical and has become sort of iconic. The 2nd track is Michael Felsher with the film's composer. We also get a slew of individual interview with the cast and crew of the film, a tour of the film's locations, extended shower scene, and MORE.
No one will ever mistake C.H.U.D. for a horror masterpiece, but it is a fun time. The Blu-ray from Arrow looks and sounds fantstic, and is loaded up with extras. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.