C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud

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Years ago, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission dumped toxic waste under the streets of New York city, leading to an outbreak of Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, or C.H.U.D., terrorizing the city. Now, one of the C.H.U.D. they were able to freeze before the species was eradicated has woken up and decided to go on his own rampage.

C.H.U.D. and C.H.U.D. 2 are about as different as different can get despite being set within the same universe. One was a serious look at the heartless bureaucracy of government agencies, and one was a quirky zombie flick. Guess which one we’re taking a look at. If you’ve never seen the original C.H.U.D., it’s well worth the watch despite the bad creature costumes, but to make things easier for the review of its sequel I’ll briefly break down the plot, so forgive a few things being squished together for brevity. Warning, if you haven’t seen it yet and would like to do so without any Spoilers, just skip ahead to the next paragraph. C.H.U.D. takes place during the 1980s and involves the disappearance of large segments of New York City’s underground homeless community. A photographer (John Heard), a police captain (Christopher Curry), and a man who runs a soup kitchen (Daniel Stern in one of my favorite performances from the guy) work together to uncover the mystery behind these disappearances, eventually encountering a plot from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to dump barrels of toxic waste underneath the city streets. Because some of the city’s homeless happen to live under those streets as well, the radiation from the waste mutated them into horrible monsters with a hunger for human flesh. The creatures eventually make their way up to the streets where the NRC is no longer able to deny their existence, and the military is forced to gas the caverns and tunnels that make up New York City’s underground world. C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud takes place an undisclosed amount of time later, but it might as well be a completely new film.

When the sequel in name alone begins, we see how very different it is. The events of C.H.U.D. are implied to have still happened, but for this film the nuclear waste has been replaced with zombified super soldiers and the underground homeless with military personnel used as test subjects. No, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but roll with it. Most of the C.H.U.D. were exterminated, but one, affectionately named Bud (Gerrit Graham), was saved and put into storage until a military tribunal could decide the fate of the super solider program. While technically a success, the serum that turned the soldiers into undead killing machines had two major drawbacks, being a zombie not considered among them. It had the bad habit of unexpectedly mutating and it gave the soldiers an insatiable hunger for brains. While the tribunal is busy shutting the program down and one Colonel Masters (Robert Vaughn) is quickly rushing the last surviving C.H.U.D. into storage/hiding, high school pals Steve and Kevin are in need of a body. The pair accidentally misplaced the one their class was all set up to dissect and had their childhood friend Katie take them to the only logical place that would have a replacement, the CDC. It also happens to be the facility where Bud was secreted away by Colonel Masters, who must not be very good with secrets since Bud is the very first body Steve and Kevin come upon. They sneak him out, hide him away, and promptly electrocute him by mistake, snapping him back awake and sending him out into the city where he manifests the very new C.H.U.D. ability/very common zombie ability to create more C.H.U.D. by biting people. Bud soon has his own gang of unstoppable zombies and an eye for Katie, forcing Steve and Kevin to team up with the unstable Colonel Masters to stop Bud before the entire world is nothing but zombies.

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{A C.H.U.D. from the first film}

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{And the C.H.U.D.’s zombified cousin Bud}

I’m not entirely sure why they decided to use the C.H.U.D. name for this movie. It’s not like C.H.U.D. was a hugely popular movie by 1989, it wasn’t even a hugely popular movie when it came out in 1984. I know it had gained somewhat of a cult following by that time, but I can’t imagine it was enough to warrant such a flimsy connection just to use the title. I’ve underestimated the desperation of studios before though. They are such completely different films that it’s more than a little difficult to consider them sequels at all, so if you’re a fan of C.H.U.D. and were hoping for something similar, dash that hope right now. Likewise, if you’re thinking about avoiding this because you disliked the prior installment’s attempt at social commentary, get rid of that thought now. Despite the name, they are two very different movies in plot, creature, and tone. We’ve gone over the major plot differences, but even the titular C.H.U.D. are completely different with the monsters in the first film being mutated humans that turned into horrific, eight-foot-tall creatures and the monsters in these being unstoppable zombies, but the biggest difference is the tone. C.H.U.D. definitely has its cheesy moments, but it’s overall a dark film; C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud is all cheese. It’s also full of problems, including shoddy editing, but it does have a few redeeming qualities, one of which makes the movie absolutely worth watching.

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{Their rally cry of “Eat’Em Up, Eat’Em Up, Yum, Yum, Yum” was just icing on the cake}

It’s not like I was expecting greatness from a movie leeching off of a somewhat successful title, but there are some points where it just seems like they gave up, both during filming and during the editing process. Things like actors being in places they shouldn’t and props misfiring aren’t totally out of the ordinary for low budget horror, especially in the 80s, but I think where you can really tell they just threw their hands in the air and said screw it was the frog. There’s a frog that’s supposed to be paralyzed, one you can clearly see is not, but it’s at least staying still, at first. Steve proposes to his class that he can reanimate it with electricity, to which the frog promptly hops away as if suddenly given back his mobility for fear of the electrical rods coming his way. Normally this would be the part where the director yells cut and they try to set it back up, hopefully in a manner that won’t actually electrocute the frog, not our director. The scene continues with the electrical rods coming down to the now empty spot and setting the area where the frog was supposed to be aflame. Of course, this did lessen the frustration that came later when zombies that were supposed to be going after brains and brains alone kept biting necks instead, but maybe it just came down to the editing. Maybe the scenes were supposed to be edited out or switched later on but they ran out of time. That would also explain why people sometimes talk when their mouths aren’t moving, why there are several instances of sounds that shouldn’t be there (i.e. squishing sounds from people moving in a flooded room when no one is said room), and why the hell Bud smashes out a window but is then immediately at a door on the other side of the room. Though, if you’ve been a fan of cheesy horror for any amount of time, none of these are necessarily a deal breaker as long as there’s something to keep you entertained and that something in Bud the Chud is the titular Bud.

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{Yeah, I was waiting for this part too}

C.H.U.D.’s sequel in name alone is above anything else an 80’s comedy, and that means its zombies are going to be used for comedic effect. There’s a gruesome element to them for sure, they are going around taking bites out of people’s brains, but they’re fairly cartoonish, so as ravenous as they’re supposed to be for brains, they only take one small bite and then move on. These zombies also don’t die, so they can and do take a decent amount of punishment, but it’s mostly for fun, like a zombie kicking his head around trying to pick it back up or feeling pain at a slapstick moment even though nothing should be able to phase them. They make jokes, get into slapstick situations, and occasionally stumble around less like the undead and more like the drunks at 3 AM. It was ridiculously, unabashedly silly, but it was fun. I enjoyed the way they’d make little food jokes here and there before going to eat someone, or how they’d interact with one another in entertaining ways. The makeup they use, sharp cannibal teeth aside, makes them look very dead, but completely nonthreatening, and it helps them get away with a whole lot more and still remain somewhat sympathetic. Nowhere is this more evident than in Bud himself. Actor Gerrit Graham adds a lot of personality to the character, making his mannerisms appear perfectly dead as if he’s dealing with the full of effects of rigor mortis but extremely expressive. This is important because though they do crack jokes from time to time, like most zombies, they’re usually silent. He does such a great job, you even feel bad for him when he first awakens in Steve’s bathtub and tries to adjust to being undead, this after having watched him murder several people. Graham has this amazing way of making you sympathize with a zombie you know would devour your brain, generally by making you smile so much you forget he’s an undead monster. Beyond our main treat are a good group of actors themselves, especially Robert Vaughn’s Colonel Masters, a highly unbalanced and unethical military man who delights in the glory of way. Steve’s quips can sometimes get old, but he’s the worst of the bunch and yet still a fun character. None of them however are as fun as Bud the C.H.U.D.

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{He’s also a snazzy dresser}

C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud might not be for everyone, but if you can give it a chance, I think most fans of 80’s cheese would have a fun watch. For bonus fun, you can play a drinking game trying to name all the actors that pop up here and there. Luke from the first season of Married with Children, Robert Englund, voice acting legend Michael Bell, the guy that played shop owner Barney in Raising Hope, and even the guy who voiced the Emperor in Empire Strikes Back all make appearances throughout the movie. There’s a bunch more you can catch too, so take a shot every time someone notices an actor that would gain either minor or major fame later, I guarantee you’ll be drunk by the movie’s end.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: David Irving (The Emperor’s New Clothes, Rumpelstiltskin)

Starring: Brian Robbins (Camp Cucamonga, Cellar Dweller), Bill Calvert (Body Waves, Terror Spot), Tricia Leigh Fisher (Book of Love, Hostile Intentions), and Gerrit Graham (Phantom of the Paradise, Child’s Play 2)

Written By: Ed Naha (Dolls, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids)

Released By: Vestron Pictures and MCEG

Release Year: 1989

Release Type: Limited Theatrical Release

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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