I love C.H.U.D. not just because it’s one of those rare 80s gems that are so cheesy it’s fun but because of one thing, the CHUDs. Yes, they are hideous mutated monsters that live down in the sewers of New York and attack people for food. However, after watching this movie and hearing what CHUD really stands for (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers). I am going to state something that many people might not agree with but these CHUDs are actually not the real bad guys in this movie and in fact, I would go further to say that the CHUDs are actually the victims in this film. Perhaps I might be stating the obvious but who knows.
For the first half of the movie the CHUDs are portrayed as monsters that only come to the surface to attack and kill civilians for food. I do agree that this is a very monstrous act but if the CHUDs were really mutated people, then the mutations would render the person back to his primitive self where they would do anything to stay alive. They are hideous (but curiously adorable) and they are highly radioactive. With these things all thrown together you would think that the CHUDs are the real monsters but after the first half of the movie we find out otherwise.
Early on in the movie we learn that there are large colonies of people living under New York and these people are homeless people. We are also told that the CHUDs are really mutated homeless people who have been exposed to radioactive waste because a company was too careless to dispose of the waste properly. Right there should be all the proof you need that the CHUDs are nothing more than poor people who have been wrongfully poisoned. Hell, if you look at the tagline of C.H.U.D. it states, “They’re not staying down there anymore.” This shows that there might be some kind of revolt against those who live on the surface.
The real villain in this movie is man, humans or more importantly the company that dumped all the toxic waste into the sewer. The CHUDs are just the poor people that happened to get in the way of things when it happened and they were hideously mutated. If you saw my post about the soundtrack of the movie you’ll notice that the theme song is very low key and depressing, almost as though it’s in mourn… mourning for the CHUDs (click here to read it).
I would argue that the CHUDs are a metaphor for the homeless and how ‘normal people’ perceive them as. I for one can vouch for this, normally when I see a homeless man begging for change I walk by them without even looking at them because to me they are filthy and they choose to stay on the streets. I have seen many homeless people get jobs and I know plenty of places in Chicago that help homeless people find employment. However, the CHUDs are our vision of a homeless person; ugly, disgusting, hideous and dangerous. They stand for the uprising of the indigent and homeless.
Hopefully, this post might make you look at the movie a tad differently and see what its hidden meanings are. Also, I always thought the CHUDs were not the main villains and I stand by that remake. To me, the CHUDs are just the poor people who were at the wrong place at the wrong time, which is why I think that they are more or less an anti-hero rather than a villain.