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I have to say that I was almost dreading watching this movie. Not only had I heard bad things about it from other people, but I watched C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud - the horror film that currently holds my "worst of all time" title - less than a week before. What a difference! C.H.U.D. is a great film.
The story, as might be expected, concerns "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers" - or mutant bums, affected by toxic wastes illegally stored in abandoned tunnels deep beneath New York City. While the premise might sound ridiculous, it is no more absurd than the basis of just about any comic book hero. C.H.U.D. is actually an atmospheric, engaging film.
Various people living and working in the SoHo neighborhood beneath which the wastes are stored become entangled with the cover-up. There are plenty of scares, thrills, artfully done gore, and the soundtrack works incredibly with the mood of the film. At times, the atmosphere actually reminded me a bit of Dawn of the Dead.
I suppose one of the things that some people dislike about C.H.U.D. is what might be considered the campiness of some of the performances. In my opinion, the campy performances work well, and add to the comic book horror style of the film - a style I've always enjoyed. There are many great acting performances here, including John Heard's and Daniel Stern's.
Don't let negative reviews stop you from checking out C.H.U.D. Also don't let a viewing of Bud the Chud scare you off. Horror fans of 70s and 80s films by directors such as George Romero and Larry Cohen who can approach C.H.U.D. without preconceptions are bound to enjoy it.
Look for John Goodman and Jay Thomas, who briefly appear at the end of the film.