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August 3, 2011

C.H.U.D. II: Bud The Chud

(1989, Dir. by David Irving.)

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS.  Repressed memories are a real thing after all.  How do I know this, you ask?  Well, I know this because tonight, in a random bit of spontaneous ridiculousness, I decided that it had been far too long since I'd seen C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud.  So, I dug up my VHS copy of the film - I have like 20 VHS tapes left...and this is one of them? - kickstarted the ol' TV/VCR combo which only gets used when I feel like I need to record Packers games, and let C.H.U.D. II happen to me for the first time in like ten years.  And it wasn't long before I realized just how much I - in some sick and wrong way - was influenced by this ridiculous pseudo-sequel to one of my favorite '80s horrors.  Like, I had blocked out almost all of the silly plot points, almost all of the awful dialogue that I used to joke about and...well, almost everything about the movie.  It was all lost, somewhere in my mind, because the DVD era happened and no one ever saw fit to release C.H.U.D. II on DVD in America.  But, as I watched the film unfold....well, let's just let my main man Meat Loaf explain how I felt about meeting C.H.U.D. II again.....
Yeah, I'm throwing the Loaf at C.H.U.D. II, because I can't help feeling that this film was more important to young nerd Mike than I remembered it being.  But before you think I'm absolutely crazy, let me explain myself.  Please.  If nothing else, I've earned this much with the Loaf. (Unless you don't like Loaf, in which case you can go read some crappier blog right the heck now.  There's no choice involved here, FMWL is a 100% Pro-Loaf blog.)

C.H.U.D. II connects to its predecessor only through its name and a few mentions of the Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers that filled that film's subterranean landscapes.  After a military opening in which an officer played by Robert Vaughn - who in my mind is playing the same character he did in the last season of The A-Team - discusses the end of the government's experiments in Chudism (that's a real word used in the movie, folks), we meet the last Chud, who bears little resemblance to his green skinned, yellow-eyed forefathers.

That C.H.U.D. is of course Bud, the title character who is played by notorious awesome dude Gerrit Graham.  Graham is probably most known for playing the hysterical rock opera diva Beef in Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise (at least in my world he is), but he also made a decent career of appearing in ridiculous and/or awesome films, including - but not limited to - Chopping Mall, Demon Seed, Used Cars (opposite Kurt Russell!), The Man With One Red Shoe, and Child's Play 2.  Oh, and last but not least, Graham also showed up - in a gorilla suit - in another infamous sequel to a Mike favorite: BEWARE! THE BLOB.  So yeah...he's pretty awesome.

Graham is quite literally the heart of C.H.U.D. II - if you could even accuse the film of having one - as his physical presence as the Frankenstein-ish zombie (whose appearance also borrows a bit from Day of the Dead's Bub the Zombie) is basically the film's only effective punchline.  Seeing the actor ramble about while peeking in windows at women doing aerobics or picking up trick or treaters to determine whether or not they'd make a good snack is good for a few chuckles - mostly out of embarrassment for him being stuck in this film - and he also adds a little bit of drama at the end of the film with a gesture that reminds of ill-fated monsters like Frankenstein's creation.  Graham certainly is one part of the film I don't want to fault - even if his performance is at times overly silly, because he seems to be having a lot of fun despite the film he's in.

The rest of the film is, to be honest, kind of pitiful.  All the major plot points seem derivative of better films from the era like The Return of the Living Dead and Night of the Creeps, and the film does little to make the viewer think there's anything worth caring about in its simple, derivative plot.  The characters, led by a trio of teens and supported by small town stereotypes and the normal scientists/military folk you'd expect, have no depth, and almost all of the dialogue in the movie consists of one-liners or off-hand jokes.  I'm not exaggerating here - literally every scene features two to four intended bits of silly humor, ranging from references to beer commercials (two CHUDs chirping "Tastes Great! Less Filling" before heading into a bar) to random arguments that no real humans would have.  This is perhaps most evident from the conversations between our teen characters' parents, who seem to have been the inspiration for the awful comedy relief parents in Michael Bay's Transformers films. (To be fair, I did actually laugh when the father told his wife that his mother never used beauty products and the mother retorted "Your mother looked like Humphrey Bogart!")

So, with awful humor stinking up the film, no connection to the serious but fun original, and no interesting characters, you'd assume that the film at least has violence and gore to offer horror fans, right?  WRONG.  Next to no gore occurs on screen, little blood is shed, and most of the CHUDs look like they walked out of the Thriller music video.

And yet, all of C.H.U.D. II's missteps - which I'm quite aware are horrible missteps - kind of thrilled me again tonight.  I often claim that I don't believe in guilty pleasures, but in the case of this film...I'm not so sure anymore.  There's so much wrong with it - really, sooooo much wrong - but I can't help feeling charmed by its attempts to recreate everything the teen horrors of the '80s represented, even as it fails miserably.  From the opening hospital hijinks to the end credits and their '80s style theme song, I kinda get suckered in to C.H.U.D. II.  I know its bad - Heck, I think I know it's terrible - but I'm ridiculously glad I decided to watch it again. 

So, if you're feeling frisky - This Chud's for you! (Yes, that's an actual line from the film.)  I can't recommend it - because it's an awful, awful movie - but I kind of want to anyway.  Just go to You Tube, look up Bud The Chud, and you will see what I mean.

Or, maybe you won't.  But at least we'll still have The Loaf.


Chris Hewson said...

The Loaf is awesome, but you mentioned Robert Vaughn's character in the last season of The A-Team, instead of Robert Vaughn's character in that crap show that went for one season and had nothing whatsoever to do with The A-Team! Unforgivable!
As for Bud the C.H.U.D., us in Australia were 'lucky' enough to get this film on DVD. 'Yay'!

R.D. Penning said...

HEY NOW!!! I loved the parents in the Transformers movies!

Jinx said...

As a C.H.U.D. fan, someone who is definitely Pro-Loaf and someone who is frequently more than little frisky, I love everything about this post. Mind you I haven't seen C.H.U.D. II in about 10 years either so my recollections may too be a little hazy.

The Mike said...

Chris - Which show was that? Wasn't Robert Vaughn the guy in the last season of A-Team, or am I confusing him with Robert Walker again? Regardless, enjoy your readily available digital CHUD II!

Russ - They were pretty funny in the first movie...but then it got weird.

Jinx - Pro-Loaf and Pro-CHUD is the only way to live. I salute you.

Chris Hewson said...

Oh it was The A-Team that Robert Vaughn was in the last season of. I'm just joking with the whole EPIC decline in quality for the show from Season 4 to 5.