The 1980s were a wild time for horror movies. The advent of home video and the rise of cable/satellite TV meant a massive uptick in potential viewership. No longer did low-budget horror movies have to rely on midnight movie screenings in large cities to make their money, there were now thousands of movie rental houses looking to fill up their shelf space, and dozens of new cable channels with time to fill. Horror Hounds have never let low budgets or shoddy effects keep them from watching a movie and so the 1980s were filled to the brim with horror movies of all shapes and sizes being churned out in straight-to-video releases.
C.H.U.D. actually received a theatrical release (at least in a limited capacity) and had a not terribly tiny budget of $1.25 million, but it is very much a movie of the ’80s. John Heard and Daniel Stern star as fashion photographers and soup kitchen operator who begin an investigation of the disappearance of numerous NYC homeless people. Stern’s character notices that the missing people were all underground dwellers, those who live in the various tunnels underneath the city.
At the same time, Bosch (Christopher Curry) a police Captain begins his own investigation despite the protests of his boss and a Nuclear Regulatory Commission goon (George Martin) both of whom are trying to cover up the disappearances.
What they find under the city are killer mutants known as C.H.U.D.s (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) which – surprise surprise – were caused by the NRC goon dumping all kinds of industrial waste in those underground tunnels. It is all very silly and kind of dumb, but also charming in its own way.
It also stars Kim Greist (in her film debut) as Heard’s wife. She manages to be a surprisingly tough character who fights off the mutants with a sword. John Goodman, Jay Thomas, and Jon Polito also have minor roles.