4 Subterranean Features To Pair With ‘C.H.U.D.’ [Double That Feature]
So, you thought I wouldn’t find out, huh? I trusted you, but I guess that was my mistake. Trust is a tough thing to come by these days, so this particularly hurts. Almost as bad as the tumble I took while sneaking in through your window. I mean, my heart still aches from you betraying me like this, but not nearly as much as my sprained ankle. Ow… should probably get some ice on that.
Anyway, here I am, sitting in your favorite armchair, wearing your favorite robe, halfway through the six-pack of your favorite beer you kept in the fridge. Here to talk about just how badly you betrayed me.
Back in 2018, four years ago, a book came out. A book that consisted of short stories taking place within the same universe as a certain 80s horror flick. The title of that book? C.H.U.D. Lives.
A book based on C.H.U.D.… and you neglected to tell me about it. Shame on you.
Don’t worry, I’m not here to talk about a book (even if it’s a fun read), I just wanted to make you aware that I was aware of your transgressions. Thing is, as I was reading, it dawned on me that I never talked about the film with you… and now I want to talk about it. Some people here make up for their mistakes.
But first, some of you might not be privy as to what exactly C.H.U.D. is. Let’s fix that.
C.H.U.D. (Directed by Douglas Cheek; Starring John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry; 1984)
“A bizarre series of sudden disappearances on the streets of New York City seems to point toward something unsavory living in the sewers.” – IMDB.
Cannibalistic. Humanoid. Underground. Dwellers. Even if the acronym is a bit goofy, the actual meaning is rad. The whole concept is fucking awesome if I’m being completely truthful with you, which I am. And while I’m being honest, here’s another tidbit for you… I didn’t like this film for the longest time. Hell, as late as this year, I wasn’t a fan of it. It was just over a month ago (when I watched it as a potential pairing for Alligator) that something about it clicked for me. Maybe, after all these years, my brain finally understood what it was going for and began to appreciate it… or maybe, in some form of cinematic Stockholm Syndrome, the film tricked me into liking it. Whatever the case, I knew at that moment that this film couldn’t just be a part of some other flick’s list. Oh no… it needed its own Double That Feature.
Let’s talk about C.H.U.D. for a moment.
As far as substance goes, the movie has mostly story and atmosphere going for it, the latter more than the former. The narrative’s not the best, but it’s still interesting enough to be engaging, with government cover-ups and humanoid monstrosities being the key plot points. The atmosphere, from the grungy look of the city to the dark, dingy tunnels of the sewers, drips with a sense of melancholy and unseen dangers… though that could just be because they were filming in 1980s New York City.
The otherworldly nature of the sewers comes across whenever on screen, a hidden underworld with its own rules separate from those of the surface streets just above them. Actually, the movie might not get that deep into all that. I might be thinking of the book. Either way, the ambiance is good.
But now we’re just beating around the manhole, let’s get to what we really care about… the C.H.U.D.s. Even when I didn’t care about the movie much, I loved how these beasties looked. Big glowing bulbous eyes, scaly green skin, sharp claws tipping each finger, bloody mouth full of razor teeth; they hit all marks. So it’s a shame that they barely show up. That’s what initially threw me off about the movie when I first watched it, by the way. How the hell do you have such a cool monster, then barely use it? Of course, I realize now it was probably a combination of budgetary restrictions and the monsters looking better in quick low-lit shots…, or the filmmakers were trying to be artsy. According to Joe Bob Briggs, this was made by a bunch of theater kids, so it’d check out.
Oh, look at the time. I still need to talk about what movies to pair with C.H.U.D. Take a seat, polish off the rest of your beer with me, and don’t call the cops about my B&E. Let’s just look at what flicks I have for us this time!
1. C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (Directed by David Irving; Starring Brian Robbins, Bill Calvert, Tricia Leigh Fisher; 1989)
“A military experiment to create a race of super-warriors go awry, and legions of murderous zombies are unleased upon a suburban neighborhood.” – IMDB.
1. Mimic (Directed by Guillermo del Toro; Starring Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Alexander Goodwin; 1997)
“Three years ago, entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler genetically created an insect to kill cockroaches carrying a virulent disease. Now, the insects are out to destroy their only predator, mankind.” – IMDB.
We’re going to go ahead and get the “icky” movie out of the way. Ripping that band-aid off for you because I care. You know, I was originally planning to put this on my last list concerning sewer-dwelling monsters. But I felt it was more appropriate here, given the “humanoid” nature of the creatures to follow.
Mimic is Guillermo Del Toro’s first major production. And, as such, it was a living hell due to the producers constantly forgetting that he was the director and trying to do his job for him (in the worst ways possible). Del Toro wasn’t happy with the version released in 1997, so in 2011, he released his own Director’s Cut, over a decade after it originally hit screens… which I thought was the one I watched. HBO Max said it was, but I’m not so sure because it seemed an awful lot like the original cut… I can’t prove that, though, because I’m not going out of my way to find the director’s cut to compare. I have three other movies to get through, so I leave that mystery all to you. Make me proud.
Okay, enough being melodramatic, it’s not that big of a deal because it was still a fun movie. This flick bleeds that Del Toro (Del Toroian?) energy that he’s known for through its visuals, characters, story, all of it. Its atmosphere imparts an almost otherworldly aura to its setting. It’s clearly some representation of our reality, but just a bit… off. Distorted. Not quite right. The alleys are darker, the sun not as bright, the sounds echoing through the city terrifyingly louder than they should. Our world, but only in the broad strokes, leaving it feeling like a dream… or a nightmare.
On a less poetic, more grisly note, let’s talk about the bug boys. The “Judas” roaches are an interesting blend of fantastic Rob Bottin creature design, a brilliant practical FX crew, and what you’d expect when you hear late 90s CGI. In other words, they look really damn good in some shots, and like a SyFy Original in others. While distracting at first, it became something I could eventually look past (though your mileage may vary on that). Overall, it all works out due to the creatures’ concept being so unique: man-sized bugs evolved to mimic human features with their carapaces, motivated by a need to eat and breed. Now that’s nightmare fuel for someone out there for sure.
Fun Fact: The film is based on a short story, also called Mimic. No, I haven’t read it.
2. End of the Line (Directed by Maurice Devereaux; Starring Ilona Elkin, Nicolas Wright, Neil Napier; 2007)
“Dead-tired, Karen, a young psychiatric nurse, catches the last subway train of the night. Before long, she finds herself trapped, along with a handful of other late-night passengers, fighting for their lives against the murderous zealots of a doomsday cult. Now, as the bodies start piling up, Karen, and the rest of the lucky survivors, must fight tooth and nail to stay alive, facing the unknown, and the impending apocalypse. But, at the end of the line, there is no place to go but down.” – IMDB.
Alright, time for more honesty. This is my absolute FAVORITE film on this list. Yes, even more so than the main star of the show, C.H.U.D. You caught me, this whole article was an elaborate ruse just to talk about this flick. But since we’re already this far in, and we’ve already shared so much beer, might as well keep going, right?
End of the Line is one of the best takes on religious horror I have ever seen. Turns out, a bunch of “churchgoers” getting a buzz on their beepers (remember those?) from a “reverend” telling them to kill everyone to “save their souls” from the “end of days” is a highly effective premise on its own. At least, if you ask me. However, director Maurice Devereaux added another level of mystery to it. Not everything is quite what it seems, and while some of the subtlety is lost by the time the credits roll, it’s not enough to ruin what it was going for. I’d elaborate further, but I want more people to watch this flick, so you’ll just have to check it out for yourself to know what I’m talking about.
Oh, and there are demons.
That’s right, this film is a bit of a creature feature itself, and these creatures are brought to life using those sweet, sweet practical FXs! They climb all over walls, skin looking all melted, looking around with big glowing… bulbous… eyes. Wait a minute.
Yeah, the monsters look like skinny-ass C.H.U.D.s… which isn’t a complaint, people should utilize the C.H.U.D. design more often since the movie didn’t. The demons are equal parts monstrously rad and horrifically creepy. I might like this version more than the OG C.H.U.D.s themselves.
Now, you might think I’m spoiling something by even mentioning these demons. But the filmmakers had no problem putting them on the film’s cover, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Besides, seeing those red-eyed monsters interested me enough to check this flick out over a decade ago, so yeah. Just like their C.H.U.D. siblings, they’re barely in the movie. But given that the story isn’t really about them (and isn’t titled after them), I think it’s handled much more effectively.
Final note: great gore! The blood is Kool-Aid red at times, which is not-at-all how blood looks, but it’s so visually appealing. Lots of stabbings, hackings, lip biting, and a baby being cut out of a pregnant woman’s stomach. Okay, this one might not be for everybody.
Unfortunately, I have no idea where to watch this flick digitally. That one is up to you to figure out. As far as a physical copy goes, you can get it here if you’re willing to dish out the cash. Hopefully it gets another release at some point… you listening, Shout Factory?
3. Bottom Feeder (Directed by Randy Daudlin; Starring Tom Sizemore, Wendy Anderson, Richard Fitzpatrick; 2007)
“A group of utility workers are trapped in a series of tunnels which, unfortunately, contain a scientist mutated by his own creation. The creature feeds instantly on a rat, becoming what it has eaten.” – IMDB.
I’m surprised I haven’t talked about Tom Sizemore before. He just kinda shows up in flicks I watch from time to time, and I never realize its him until halfway through the movie. I don’t know why. That’s not the weirdest thing, though. No, that would be the fact that whenever I hear his name, this movie is the first thing that pops into my mind.
I’m not sure how happy he would be to hear that given he quit this film two days into shooting. He came back to finish it, but I imagine he wasn’t the happiest camper at that point.
Apparently, you can hear all about it on his reality show Shooting Sizemore. …did… did you know he had a reality show? I didn’t know he had a reality show. Why did Tom Sizemore have a reality show?
What was I supposed to be talking about?
Right. Bottom Feeder. It’s a pretty solid flick, and one young Giallo sought to own on DVD for some reason. I actually watch it fairly often, once every few months, for reasons beyond my own comprehension. Like… I don’t know, I just dig it.
The flick has solid gore/creature effects, the titular “Bottom Feeder” reminding me of an 80s Corman (there he is) monster, which is a major plus for me. It’s some scientist that gets injected with regeneration juice that turns him into whatever he eats, and, for reasons possibly beyond his comprehension, the first thing he munches on is a rat… ergo, sewer were-rat man. It’s a fun idea and the monster looks great, no complaints from me. You could pair this with the other “were-rat” movie Mulberry St. if you’re not feeling C.H.U.D. They’d probably go well together.
Tom Sizemore, even if he wasn’t particularly ecstatic to be there, still pulls off a likable enough character and is mostly fine. He’s far from my favorite performance in the film, though. That award goes to Wendy Anderson as “Krendal”, who’s a no non-sense sociopath with a bad attitude, a suitcase full of guns, and every inclination to use both… I may have a type. Point is, she’s badass. Anderson was clearly having fun with the role.
Oh, there’s also a scene where a martial artist knife-fights the rat-man. It’s a lot of fun. Nothing more to add to that, just thought it was worth noting.
Hey, the third flick in my last Double That Feature was a rat movie, too! What a coincidence.
4. Dwellers (Directed by Drew Fortier; Starring Drew Fortier, James L. Edwards, Douglas Esper; 2021)
“While shooting a documentary on the suspicious disappearances within the homeless community, a filmmaker and his crew go missing while uncovering a terrifying and vicious secret below the city’s surface.” – IMDB.
Ah, found footage… you know how I feel about found footage. That being said, you’d also be aware of how I’m warming up to the sub-genre. I don’t know, Ash Hamilton did a great job at heightening my interest for these types of films. This one in particular is an interesting case given that it was made on a very micro-budget over the course of five days. Now, when I say “micro-budget”, I don’t mean a few hundred dollars or anything so grandiose. Oh no… they had a little less than zero dollars to work with here. Nada. Nothing. Looking at the film through that lens is necessary to appreciate the film, I feel. With that said, it’s not too shabby!
It’s a better sequel to C.H.U.D. than the one we got, which, granted, isn’t a high bar. But I digress. There’s a good bit of heart and fun throughout the film, which you know always resonates with me.
The setting is appropriately eerie (sewer tunnels tend to be), and although we don’t see the monster much, it looks properly gnarly when we do. A huge part of the flick is just walking around tunnels and talking while spooky things happen off-camera. But again… kind of expected. It probably would have been a better short film, but if you’re still in the mood for some sewer monsters after watching C.H.U.D., this will get the job done.
You know, not that we’ve sat here and talked a bit, I think I can forgive you for not telling me about the C.H.U.D. book. Someone’s gotta be the bigger person, right? Ah, I hear the sirens of the police you called approaching. That’s my cue to leave. Hopefully, you’ll give some of these recommendations a go the next time you watch C.H.U.D.
Until next time…