Posts Tagged ‘C.H.U.D.’

Transmutations was written by Clive Barker, and that’s fairly surprising considering how terrible the plot is, along with the very poor characterizations of almost every single player in the film. But this is not the only time someone butchers Barker’s stories. Remember “Rawhead Rex“? Yeesh!

Mutant NinjasMutant ninjas

As introduction to what we might expect from this movie we see some sort of ninja-resembling characters running around  in hurry at night without any particular goal. Later, on a closer look, it turns out that they are just an ordinary people with duct tape tied around their heads. Urgh…bear it with me. Duct tape people then, accompanied with couple of freaks, crash in some high class orgies and from there they kidnap high class hooker Nicole (played by Nicola Cowper) who was laying in her bed dressed in curtain. Oh yeah, and they had butler beaten up. Nice start!

Sid ViciousSid Vicious as albino man-ape

When you are short of one hooker what do you do? You hire a detective. So Roy Bain (played by Larry Lamb) is called in to investigate a case of a missing hooker by rich businessman Motherskille (played by Steven Berkoff). Why him? Well we can just assume that Bain has had connections with Motherskille and Nicole in the past; the film does a particularly poor job of giving the viewer any sort of back-story towards the beginning, and after the plot has begun to meander, it really makes no difference anymore. All we know about him is that he is the usual arrogant self-employed detective cum painter, and he performs his duties with a reticence that might not really be acting at all, but instead Lamb’s hesitance to star in this movie at all. Anyway, after a bit of convincing by Motherskille, he decides to accept the case. He went to the crime scene where he talked to Madam Pepperdine (played by Ingrid Pitt) and another hooker Bianca (played by Irina Brook). Apart of Pepperdine’s teasing her butler Ricardo (played by an established actor Trevor Thomas) by saying that the only thing that got hurt was his pride (despite the fact that the poor fellow’s neck was almost broken), Bain didn’t get much information out of her. But he did find a lead – a bottle of some drug under Nicole’s pillow. When he pressed Bianca about it she told him that he should check it with Dr Savary, whom Nicole used to visit often. On his way back he meets Darling (played by Brian Croucher), a GUY who was sent by…someone…to look after him (I certainly wouldn’t want someone named Darling to watch my back) .Darling tells Bain that Motherskille and Savary are together into business with strange drug. But what kind of drug? We’ll find out soon.

He has a golden heartHe has a golden heart

After being scanned with futuristic metal detector you can see on the picture above, Bain meets with Dr Savary (played by Denholm Elliot) and confronts him about drug. Doctor didn’t let himself crack under the sarcasm and irritation Bain evokes at all times and he denied any knowledge of such substance. But Bain took an opportunity while Savary was briefly outside the office to take a look around. He finds a key and strangely shaped figurines. This is the point when viewers should start connecting some of a strings in the plot but I doubt that any of us could do such thing, given so little info about everything. Anyway, Savary is back and kicks out detective as politely as he could. Meanwhile, freaks somewhere conduct experiments on Nicole. They are giving her the same
substance Bain found at her room. Apparently, according to freak doctor Nygaard (played by Paul Brown), she is immune to dreams which drug should cause. Nicole wakes up disoriented and starts asking questions. To calm her and show they mean no harm (apart of poking and probing her), freaks, who happens to be very nice and polite, introduce themselves. Besides Nygaard there are also Oriel (played by Miranda Richardson) and Dudu (played by Paul Mari), who enjoyed sniffing her hair and is very proud of his nickname Shitface. Another freak storms in and explains that he had lost two men (men? hm) while breaking in to Savary’s office. It turns out that freaks need regular doses of drug in order to…I don’t know what. And by lost he meant it literally since one of them called Red Dog (played by Gary Olsen) was taken over by dreams and gone wild. Still no idea what kind of dreams those are. Anyway, Red Dog seems to have a crush on Bianca and gets infuriated after he finds her in Bain’s bed. Battle commences consisted of shooting, wrestling, balls grabbing and similar gay techniques followed with Bain chasing Red Dog throw the dark alley. Bain finds freak laying on the ground but to his surprise another freak shows up and drags Red Dog to sewers. Could it be some new race of C.H.U.D.? Everything is possible with script writer like this.

Clive Barker approves thisClive Barker approves this

We are now at night club watching a gay performance. Bain there finds Motherskille enjoying the show with his retarded thugs and presses him about the drug. Motherskille at first wouldn’t admit anything (he was even swearing on life of his children), but after some police brutality he had no other option than to admit he occasionally manufactures things for Savary (though, he still denies any knowledge about the drug). So back to Savary it seems. Bain sneaks into doctor’s office and finds a tape with the test subject. As it always happens to be our hero gets captured by Savary when he was about to unfold the mystery. But wait, more of clichés are incoming! While holding Bain at point of his gun, Savary decides to do what every criminal mastermind does in that situation –
reveal everything. Apparently, the drug in question is euphoric, an powerfully hallucinogenic and painkiller, which gives a feats of strength to it’s users. And like every other drug it is addictive. The only side effect is that it turns humans into mutants. Hm, didn’t see that one coming from the first moment Motherskille hired Bain… Anyway, you can’t expect that a main charracter gets killed when he is about to solve a mystery, so Bain somehow manages to trick Savary and escape his office.


Bain decides to get to the bottom of problem. He enters sewers and there he finds mutants’ secret headquarters. Just like that! And Nicole, who tells him that this is now her home and mutants are her friends (despite the fact that she is immune to the side effects). They leave him tied just to be found by one of Motherskille’s crooks, a guy who wears ridiculous sunglasses throughout the entire film. He takes a bit of his time from the mission to kill all of the freaks just to inject drug into Bain. Could this be the end of our hero detective?

A happy bunchA happy bunch

Killing a bunch of mutated freaks turned out not to be an easy task. Led by Nicole they manage to capture Savary and right when they were about to make doctor tastes his own medicine (oh how poetic), Motherskille shows up with his goons and another shooting takes a place. Obviously he wants the entire place wiped out, including mutants. Why? Well here is how I see the plot at this point: Motherskille hired Bain to find Nicole, for whom he already presumed has become a mutant. He sends someone to follow Bain. Why? Because when Bain finds Nicole that means he will also find so-called Underworld, a place where all failed experiments reside, which he seeks to destroy. And for what reason? I guess to wipe out any remaining traces that could lead to his connection with drug. Keep in mind that I am writing this using a logic since film itself doesn’t give any background story nor the explanation. Ok, now we are back to movie. While I was bringing out my thoughts, Motherskille lost his own in shooting duel with Bain. Still, the final confrontation is between Nicole and Savary , where she uses her newfound superpowers (?) to burn mannequin dressed as an evil doctor. At the very end, she announces that it is not over yet (we certainly hope it is) and walks away with the only surviving mutant Dudu, thus leaving Bain with dumb xpression on his face.


Conclusion: The script is quite bad, but it’s managed fairly well by the actors, who do the best with what they have. Fortunately, most of the actors are very good, and that means that Transmutations is at least watchable. It’s following the storyline that becomes the killer here, because it’s a horrible maze of characters switching back and forth between good and bad guys while Bain tries to tell the difference. The story is simply a mess of ideas that do very little of anything, and not even the dark wave, saxophone-riddle soundtrack can make this film any more interesting. Nicole’s role as the damsel in distress is both boring and generic. There are some other characters who are supposed to be more important, like Motherskille (how can that name not cause you to foreshadow his role as supreme villain?) and his  crooks. Transmutations even makes note of the terrible character writing by referring to one of the goons as a parrot; it’s a generous compliment. As for the mutants, at first, the viewer might question why the “monsters” of Transmutations aren’t really that scary. Sure, they growl a lot, and some have glowing eyes while others get bulbous growths on their faces, but there’s nothing about them that seems overtly threatening. See, it’s fine and good if Transmutations wants the monsters to be misunderstood. It often works for films of this nature. But not when the movie spends little time with them, and barely tries to develop them beyond their physical characteristics alone. This film wasn’t easy to find and maybe that’s a good thing, because a film this bad will die out without its lifeblood – the audience. The movie isn’t an evolution of the horror genre, but a mutant that is doomed to die off because of its fatal errors.

ConfidentialTOP SECRET!!!

AT the risk of being hated (even more) I am writing and publishing this review. I am well aware of fact that for most of you horror fans out there C.H.U.D  is one of the best B-horrors ever, but I simply can’t ignore how much boring, unscary and cheesy this movie is. Sure, premise is not bad (sewer creatures  rising up in city of New York) but that’s pretty much it. Just a decent premise with a horrible, dull, and once again, cheesy (too cheesy even for cheesy  80s) realization.

Opening scene is, at the same, the best shot scene in this movie (though I can’t say it is great scene in general). An unescorted woman walks the dog in a  middle of night through dark back alley in a dangerous neighborhood (which is very reasonable thing for every woman to do) when suddenly something drags her  down into the sewer (and her dog too). A sewer lid gets closed and that is the sign for movie title “C.H.U.D” to pop-up. Real breathtaking beginning. So  naturally, the next scene takes us to some more relaxing place. Like an apartment. This apartment belongs to George Cooper (played by John Heard) a  photographer who sometimes gets hired by local reporter. At this time he has been hired to take a photos of nearby homeless people. The problem is that the  most of those people are missing. George lives with his ugly girlfriend and wannabe model Lauren (played by Kim Greist). She is getting ready for shooting a  perfume commercial and she is going to do it naked (not the smartest marketing strategy, considering her looks). And George is going to do shooting! Next is  round through police station where Captain Bosch (played by Cristopher Curry) is investigating missing persons. Truth to be told, he actually tries to put   those cases under rag. Bosch gets a call to come and interrogate homeless woman who tried to steal a gun from a police officer. She refuses to speak and uses her only phone call to call George while he was on shooting session. An devastating ugly woman police officer Sanderson (played by Cordis Heard) gives to  Bosch another missing persons report. Report has been filled by Sheppard – an old acquaintance of Bosch. Sheppard, now known as The Reverend (played by Daniel Stern), runs soup-kitchen where all of homeless people are going to eat. Apparently most of them live underground, in a sewer system. Problem is that over 10 of his regular guests have been missing in last two weeks. But not only homeless people are going missing. Remember the naive woman from the beginning of the movie? Well, she turns out to be Bosch’s wife Flora (played by Laure Mattos). HA! Now we have personal motive too. On the top of it, Bosch gets to listen to mad homeless man preaching about mysterious, powerful, underground beings. Meanwhile, homeless woman Mrs. Monroe (played by Ruth Maleczech) takes George to her underground dwelling to show him why she tried to steal a gun. Something attacked her brother Victor (played by William Joseph Raymond) and inflicted him some nasty, disgusting injuries. George seemed to be much more interested in moaning about low living conditions than in actual mysterious attack.

When it heals there will be cool scarWhen it heals it will be cool scar.

Back to Bosch. Him and Reverend also went down the gutter. Reverend told him a story about how he finds many things labeled “NRC” (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) down there. So, they start exploring sewers using a toy Geiger counter. But besides high level of radiation they didn’t find anything  interesting. Now back again to George and Lauren (funny thing is how movie shuffles scenes between these 4 persons only for more than 30 minutes). Ugly Laure tells to George that she is pregnant and not sure whether she should give a birth to that kid (considering her looks and George’s intelligence I say that  there is a lot of room for doubt). And while they were arguing in safety of their apartment, something outside took an old man from phone booth and ate him! But it left alive a little girl who was with old man. I guess it didn’t want dessert.

And that would be...somethingAnd that would be…something

Girl somehow reported this. I don’t see how since she is only 8 years old and she has just seen monster ate her grandfather. But to director Douglas Cheek,  state of shock in such situation didn’t seem to be reasonable thing to happen. So ok, little girl calmly reported everything to police. That was the last  drop for Captain Bosch, who obviously knows more about this than he has told. So, with both pictures and Geiger counter him and Reverend went to confront NRC commissioners and NRC representative Wilson (played by George Martin). After hard conversation, many denials and Reverend whose gone nuts Wilson finally  reveals that they are hiding nuclear waste under the streets because they weren’t able to transport it further due to environmental agency ban. Also, he  reveals an existence of C.H.U.D, which stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller. I guess it is some kind of mutated homeless man (it sure looks  homeless). And that is exactly what Wilson thinks. And the news of finding a dead C.H.U.D. have reached him. After autopsy  of C.H.U.D. was over Wilson decides to clean up things in sewer, convinced that this was the only C.H.U.D. that existed. Bosch doesn’t share his opinion so he sends several men armed  with flamethrowers to clear up the way for Wilson’s men. But another C.H.U.D. kills them all which is represented with breaking a camera signal. Yeah, the  budget was too cheap to show us much of the monsters. Wilson now shows full potential of his dementia. He plans to let a gas through entire sewer system and  then blow up entire sector of the city. And not only that. Wilson looks like an evil version of Walt Disney (though I am not sure that there is any other  version of Walt Disney) and acts like Hitler. I am not sure if combination of Disney’s looks and Hitler’s attitude in one character is just a coincidence or  director’s attempt to send a message.

The man with attitudeThe man with attitude!

Everybody to the sewers!!! Full scale invasion!!! On one side there are George and investigation reporter Murphy (played by J. C. Quinn). Actually, Murphy  was hanging around from the very beginning of the movie but I didn’t find his role important enough to mention him earlier in this review. I see that  director Douglas Cheek shares my opinion since Murphy got disemboweled and eaten just few moments after he stepped into sewers. Well, no Pulitzer prize for  him it seems. On the other side of sewers, Reverend and insane homeless man Val (played by Graham Beckel) discovered a bunch of C.H.U.D.s eating toxic waste. Val meets the same fate as Murphy. At least one mouth less to feed. And someone locked up the Reverend in sewers. On the surface Bosch finally finds his  missing wife Flora. Well, at least what is left of her.

Consider this a divorceConsider this a divorce!

It seems that what Bosch’s was feared off has come true. Driven by gas mutants started emerging on the surface and attacking people. In one of the most  ridiculous scenes ever Lauren, while she was under shower, gets abortion procedure performed by C.H.U.D.!!! If nothing else at least it ended her dilemma  whether she should continue or abort her pregnancy. George will be pissed off when he finds out but, for now, him and Reverend got reunited underground.  There they stumbled upon a shitload of toxic waste boxes. It turns out that C.H.U.D. doesn’t stand for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller. No, it  actually stands for Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal. So, Wilson was throwing toxic waste under New York for quite some time. Years, if you prefer. Which  made every of those poor homeless people go mutant. Mutants that looks like a vampires. Well, I lost it here. Anyway, while both of them are stunned by this  discover, Lauren fights against invasion of mutants with her katana!!! Man, this movie has everything!!!

Off with his head!

Wilson went completely insane!!! Situation is no more under his control and he can’t risk publicity. He trapped a lot of homeless people underground in order to blow them up all together with mutants and toxic waste. I guess he wanted to solve problems of poverty, threatening menace, environmental danger and his  ass being exposed with one blow. Though, I can’t say that blowing up one part of the city can be considered as a discrete disposing of evidences. So, in his  rampage, he shoots the cop, attacks Bosch, kicks Murphy’s head and beat the homeless people. Eventually, he dies in explosion of his van. And his van had  exploded because it’s front wheel fell into open sewer hatch. The end and complete, utter crap!

Conclusion: When I asked my father if he remembers C.H.U.D. he said that in time when this movie was released he was lying in hospital due to broken leg. I  felt envy. Broken leg is much better than watching this incredibly dull and boring piece of crap. I really don’t know why this movie is so respected among  horror fans. Premise sounds interesting but, basically, it is bad concept rip-off of Alligator (1980). Entire movie relies on poor attempts (as poor as those unlucky homeless people) to shock and scary us, jumping from effect to effect, not tying it at all, with rather incoherent plot. Characters are just pushed  into the plot through many of it’s holes. It feels like they are there just because of circumstances. For example, George has almost nothing to do with  actual story and his role here is forced. Director tried to make us to ignore that by putting the great John Heard (Home Alone) but his character here is  charmless and as much likeable as boil on your ass. And all of this gets mixed up with conspiracy and government’s garbage man. I am well aware of director’s cut and sequel but there is no way in hell that I am going to watch either of those in distant future.