C.H.U.D. is the weirdest movie in the Home Alone franchise.
Of course you’ll have a bad impression of New York if you only focus on the pimps and the C.H.U.D.s.
I’ve seen 1984’s C.H.U.D. appear on numerous top B-movie lists over the years, but always skipped over it. It’s almost like the filmmakers went out of their way to make the least evocative title possible. “C.H.U.D.”. I get nothing out of that. C.H.U.D. doesn’t stand out. C.H.U.D. isn’t a fun word to write. I copy/paste every time I have to write C.H.U.D. because the dots are annoying.
Well, as I found out, what it stands for is Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller. Why not call the movie that???
C.H.U.D. stars John Heard (the dad from Home Alone) as George Cooper, a photographer who is documenting the homeless of New York, with a particular focus on those living underground in subways and sewers. Christopher Curry plays Bosch, a police captain who has taken an interest in the recent rise in missing persons (we find out that his wife went missing, too). And Daniel Stern (also from Home Alone) plays “The Reverend” who runs a homeless shelter. At different points, they all discover that a race of mutants is living beneath New York, and that it’s caused by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission illegally transporting nuclear waste beneath the city. We later discover that the C.H.U.D.s are, in fact, the homeless who came into contact with the waste, and the NRC are planning to clean up the situation permanently.
Two Home Alone stars as the leads in a B-monster movie, six years prior. Turns out Home Alone 2 was a return to New York. Daniel Stern does a great job as The Reverend — his wild eyed, big-haired, sort of old hippy look fits perfectly for that world. Very distrusting, very anti-“The Man”. And of course he’s right about that in the end.
John Heard, on the other hand, sticks out in the role in a bad way. I like him as an actor well enough, he’s great in roles like Big. But he’s no leading man in movie, not even a B-movie.
I like the undercurrent of political commentary in the film. It’s very eighties and Republican, the big business bypassing regulations for profit, the homeless being treated like garbage. At one point, the NRC plan to wipe out the C.H.U.D.s and they just lock the underground tunnels up, with some people still inside. They have no regard for the bottom levels of society, and what isn’t seen isn’t an issue.
But a good B-monster movie is all about the gore and the effects. C.H.U.D. has its ups and downs. I love a good guy in a rubber suit, but the rubber suits are a little too rubber at times. For the most part they do a good job of hiding it in low lighting, but then they go for a shocker vanity shot and the seams start to show.
The gore, on the other hand, is pretty damn good. There’s some genuinely unsettling work done on a head dredged up from the river. And while there aren’t fountains of blood (apart from one scene) the chewed up bodies look nice and disgusting.
In an alternate reality, The Reverend is shaken by the events that happen in C.H.U.D. and goes into a downward spiral. He turns to a life of crime. Changes his name to an alias — Marv. And links up with another criminal named Harry to start robbing houses. George sadly leaves Lauren the following year, but marries a woman named Kate who has two sons from a previous marriage — Buzz, aged nine, and Kevin, aged three.
I guess what I’m saying is that someone needs to get on top of Home Alone 6: Underground in New York.