Blu Reviewed: Arrow Video's C.H.U.D. (1984)

Whenever you ask people what they remember about '80s horror flicks, inevitably C.H.U.D gets a mention. For whatever reason, the fish-like monster designs were burned into the brains of impressionable youth from that era. The acronym stands for "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller" and plays on urban legends about scary creatures that live in the sewer systems.

We follow photographer George Cooper (John Heard) as he documents the homeless population (called Undergrounders) who have taken residence in the sewers underneath New York City. Some of the transients have gone missing which also piques the interest of A.J. "The Reverend" Shepherd (Daniel Stern) a man who runs the local homeless shelter. Though this is billed as a horror film, the majority of the film plays out like a standard detective story with lots of attention paid to investigating various locals for clues. This part of the film is really compelling and provides a lot of backstory. A lot of horror films don't bother with this kind of stuff, so it's refreshing to see it here.

Of course, once the C.H.U.D. start to appear the film takes a gruesome turn. The special effects and creature designs by John Caglione, Jr are fantastic with just the right amount of campiness. I remember as a child being scared of the gross looking sewer men with their glowing yellow eyes and their slimly looking skin. Like Jaws, you don't get to see the creatures very often and they are almost a non-factor until the last third of the film. Audiences might find this film to be a little "talky" and it definitely takes a negative view of bureaucracy and authority figures. This stems from it being made during the Reagan Era where the country was under the rule of the conservatives. It's immediately apparent that the director Douglas Cheek was not a fan of the ideology which was further solidified when he took part in the documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism in 2004.

The video on the Blu is great and it's one of the best '80s cult film transfers I have ever seen. Everything is crisp and clean and Arrow Video kept in some of the film grain as well. There are two versions of the film available: The Integral Cut and the Theatrical Version. I watched the Integral Cut for this review and I found it to be well paced. Most of the added scenes involve character interactions and backstory.


-Michelle Kisner

•Brand new restoration from original film elements
•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
•Original Uncompressed Mono PCM audio
•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
•Audio commentary by director Douglas Cheek, writer Shepard Abbott, and actors John Heard, Daniel Stern and Christopher Curry
•Brand new crew interviews
•Original Theatrical Trailer
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford