horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

Flashback Review: June 13th, 2014 Movie – C.H.U.D.

chud

Now here is a movie that brings back some memories. Years ago, when I was a kid living in Birmingham, I remember seeing this movie on television and was both freaked out and entertained by it. Yes, I know that this is not exactly the sort of movie a 7 year old should be watching but if you haven’t guessed by now, I am sort of an odd duck. Anyways, I saw it the one time on TV and never saw it again for years, even when I had the opportunity to rent it. Then, I got the urge to watch it again after watching Clerks II and Randall had made a comment to Dante that mentions “chud”. That was enough to get me looking for a copy of C.H.U.D. on DVD but alas, the video was out of print so I had to hop on eBay and track down a copy that was reasonably priced so that I could own my own copy.

The plot: A woman is walking her dog down the street in New York City when something reaches out from a manhole and grabs the woman’s leg, dragging her and the dog into the sewers. The next day, George Cooper, a former fashion photographer who has quit that business and whose new subject is photos of a sect of homeless people that have begun living underground in the sewers, is arguing with a former colleague named Derick about the article Derick is writing, as the subjects George had been talking too and photographing have come up missing. At the same time, George’s model girlfriend, Lauren Daniels, has convinced George to shoot her for a perfume add and as she goes to the basement of their apartment to find her makeup in the boxes they have down there, she hears something moving around near the sewer access. Elsewhere, Francine, a downstairs neighbor of George and Lauren, is walking along the street when she is frightened by a pile of boxes suddenly exploding outward and as she goes to look, she finds a bloody hole leading down into the sewers. At the police station, Captain Bosch calls Chief O’Brien and tells him he can’t keep a lid on things much longer but O’Brien tells him that he has too as the orders came from above the Chief’s head. Bosch has one of his officers pull the files of events in the area while he deals with a homeless woman, Mrs. Monroe, that tried to steal an officer’s gun. After letting the woman make her phone call, Bosch is told that someone had filed a missing person’s report for 12 people and when he goes to investigate, he finds that the person was A.J. Shepherd, whom Bosch had busted 5 years ago. A.J. runs a homeless shelter now and tells Bosch that some of his regulars that live underground have been missing over the past 2 weeks. When Bosch tries to question an undergrounder that is there, the man pulls out a knife and A.J. tells him that a lot of the undergrounders are looking for weapons. Bosch has a hunch and calls his precinct and tells them to follow Mrs. Monroe when she is bailed out. The Mrs. Monroe had called George and after he goes to bail her out, she asks if he has some bandages and when they get them, she leads them to Victor, the undergrounder that she was trying to steal the gun for. Victor’s leg is wounded by some \thing he is afraid of and when George goes to change the bandage on his leg, he finds that a huge chunk of flesh has been bitten off, right to the bone. Bosch’s man loses George and the bag lady in the sewers so Bosch takes some pictures from an article that George had helped write to A.J. to see if he can recognize anyone in it. When A.J. refuses until Bosch tells him what his interest in the matter is, Bosch admits that his wife has gone missing after walking the dog the night before. A.J. looks at the pictures and recognizes Mrs. Monroe, Victor, and Victor’s friend Hugo. A.J. then asks Bosch about the EPA probe that has been going on, only instead of the normal week this one has been going on for a month and when he tries calling about it, he gets the run around. A.J. then shows Bosch some of the stuff that has been turning up in the tunnel underneath the shelter, including a radiation detector, and as they head into the sewer, they discover a geiger counter. When Bosch turns it on, the counter begins detecting a high source of radiation moving towards them, then moving away and as the counter finally goes quiet, they hear a loud roar coming from further in the sewers. George has returned to his apartment, where Lauren tells him that she is pregnant and as they discuss what to do, they decide to keep the baby. On the street below, a man and his daughter head to a pay phone to call the man’s brother for help when they are attacked by a mutated creature that came out of the sewer, who grabs the man but leaves the girl. The next day, Bosch arrives at the precinct and is told about the girl and he orders men placed at every street corner within his precinct’s jurisdiction, then calls O’Brien and tells him to get a meeting with the Commissioner and a representative from the NRC. Bosch goes to get A.J. and his evidence and then goes to get George to get his help but when he doesn’t answer the door, A.J. picks the lock and they head inside, where they find and take the pictures of Victor and his leg. They then head to the meeting and Bosch lays out his case but when the Commissioner and Wilson, the NRC rep, don’t seem inclined to do anything, A.J. shows them the pictures of Victor’s leg and threatens to go public with what is going on and their covering it up. Meanwhile, George and Lauren are having a picnic in the park when they are approached by Murphy, a freelance reporter, who wants George’s help in finding out what is going on underground but George refuses to help him. Back at City Hall,¬†Wilson reluctantly tells them that there is radioactive material under the city but a court order is preventing them from moving it out of the city. When A.J. asks what they are going to do about the disappearances, Wilson says they don’t have anything to do with their situation, then taunts A.J. when he says he will go to the press. A.J. grabs all of his things and leaves and when he does, Wilson gets on the phone and alerts someone to stop him from going to the press. Meanwhile, Bosch had gone to pick up Wilson’s briefcase that A.J. had tossed and notices a file inside called C.H.U.D. Wilson tells him not to mess with the file as Bosch asks to know what C.H.U.D. means when Wilson gets a call. After hanging up, he tells them that C.H.U.D. stands for cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller and that his team just found the body of one. They head out to where the body is, and after Wilson and Bosch examine it, wearing hazmat suits as it is radioactive, Wilson is told it died from asphyxiation. Wilson wants to send his team back in, saying that that was the only creature, and Bosch wants to send some of his men armed with flamethrowers for protection but Wilson overrules him. When Wilson’s team heads down there, they discover that Bosch had disobeyed his orders and sent a team down there anyways. Wilson wants Bosch to pull his men back but Bosch refuses and Wilson reluctantly tells his team to continue with the cops. As they make their way into the tunnels, the geiger counters suddenly start going off and they see something approaching them. Bosch orders them to use the flamethrowers but it has no effect on the creatures and they proceed to slaughter the team. After seeing the video of the incident, the Commissioner agrees with Bosch that the people must be warned but Wilson says he can handle it and plans on using sealing the tunnels and sewers then flooding them with gas, killing off all of the creatures. Bosch goes to see A.J., who is recovering from being jumped by Wilson’s man, and he tells him about Wilson’s plan and warns him to get out of the area but A.J. says he can’t leave. Bosch heads out and A.J. goes into the tunnel to warn Val to get out of there but as Val goes to leave, he is knocked back down the ladder, breaking his neck in the fall, and Wilson’s man locks the door, sealing A.J. down in the tunnel. Meanwhile, George returns home to find his pictures missing and, believing Murphy took them, he calls him up and arranges a meeting. When they meet, Murphy tells him that the police have them to show as proof of a coverup and tells George that he wants to head down into the underground. George reluctantly takes him down there but as Murphy examines a tunnel, he is attacked and killed by a Chud and George grabs his gun and runs off. A.J. uses the geiger counter to help him make his way through the sewers and avoid the Chud when he finds a large group of them around Wilson’s nuclear waste material that has broken open in the sewers. When A.J. accidentally alerts them to his presence, he runs off¬† and climbs to a higher level but accidentally drops the geiger counter, which is going off the charts as one of the Chud approaches. On the surface, Lauren is going through some old photos when she drops something that rolls under the trap door to the sewers. When she heads down there, she finds Bosch’s dead dog hanging from a pipe and she quickly runs back upstairs and locks the door. Elsewhere, Bosch is called out to the scene of a dead body only to discover that it is his wife and after the officers drag him out of there, he heads to a bar and starts drinking. Lauren calls the police and reports about the dead dog, then goes to take a shower. As she is in the shower, the drain suddenly clogs up and when she uses a coat hanger to try and clear up the clog, a shower of blood suddenly erupts from the drain, covering her. Meanwhile, a Chud manages to crawl out from the sewer and breaks down the door from the basement. Elsewhere, 2 patrol officers enter a diner, having just come off their shift, but as they flirt with the waitress/cook, a group of Chud emerge from the sewer and proceed to attack the diner, killing everyone inside. In the sewers, George makes his way to where Victor was only to find Hugo has been ripped in half and George is beginning to turn into a Chud. George is forced to kill Victor and Mrs. Monroe hits him, then grabs the gun and plans on killing George but A.J. knocks her out and save him. Back on the surface, Bosch hears about the diner and heads over there, blaming Wilson for everyone’s death including his wife but O’Brien tells him to head to his car and calm down. Lauren sees the news report on the diner and the gas going into the sewers and, worrying about George, she goes to try and tell the police that he is down there when she sees a Chud coming up the stairs towards her. Lauren quickly rushes back into her apartment and barricades the door, then tries to phone for help but accidentally rips the phone from the cord when she trips over a chair. Two police officers show up, from her earlier call, and head inside only to be killed by the Chud and as Lauren screams for help, the Chud breaks into the apartment but she manages to kill it by chopping off it’s head. Back in the sewers, George and A.J. make their way past the toxic waste only to find more containers from the NRC, marked Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal and they realize that Wilson has been dumping the stuff down there for years and is trying to cover up his own mistake. They soon find the remains of Wilson’s and Bosch’s men and manage to make contact with Bosch, telling him what they learned and he tells them he will meet them at the manhole cover. Bosch goes to get the keys to the truck but Wilson grabs them from the man before Bosch can grab them. Bosch threatens to expose Wilson’s secret and Wilson pulls him aside to talk. As Bosch explains that he knows the truth, Wilson pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot Bosch but Bosch punches him and grabs the keys. Lauren reaches the diner and tells an officer to stop the gas and when he tells her he can’t do that, she asks who is in charge and he points to Wilson, who had recovered and taken off after Bosch. Bosch moves the truck and starts to move the manhole cover when Wilson shoots him. He then drags Bosch’s body out of the way and gets into the truck but as he starts it, George and A.J. manage to lift the manhole cover and get out of the sewer. Wilson sees them and tries to run them over but Lauren arrives and screams out a warning at them, allowing them to move out of the way in time. As Wilson turns around to try again, A.J. sees Bosch’s body and grabs his gun, shooting at Wilson and eventually hitting him. As the van continues moving forward, it ends up hitting the open manhole cover and explodes, as Wilson had ordered them to be rigged that way. George and Lauren embrace and kiss while A.J. hears Bosch tell him “Nice shot”, and he heads over to find Bosch barely alive.

C.H.U.D. met with poor results from the critics, currently holding a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, some liked the tone of the movie while it’s detractors felt it was too slow and boring to make it worthwhile. C.H.U.D. is an acronym for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller but in the movie, it was meant to officially refer to Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal, which was the EPA’s botched plan that ended up spawning the chuds. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $4.7 million off of a $1.25 million budget and would spawn a sequel 5 years later.

This is one of those movies that always strikes a cord with my memories. That being said, I can admit that while it is somewhat entertaining, this could have been a lot better. The acting was ok, with John Heard (George), Daniel Stern (A.J.), Christopher Curry (Bosch), and Kim Griest (Lauren) doing good jobs in their roles. I also liked George Martin (Wilson), as I thought he played his character as the perfect government agent that wanted to keep his secrets contained. The story was interesting, playing off of a rise in concern over the handling of nuclear/radioactive waste, but the pacing was so slow at the beginning that it actually hurt the movie because the ending felt a little forced in their attempt to try and tie everything up. The special effects were pretty decent in regards to the creature designs and make up but they didn’t really show them actually attacking anyone; you would generally only see the aftermath which was a little disappointing. It is a fun bit of 80’s nostalgia horror but it isn’t going to be for everyone.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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crime, dark comedy, horror, movie, movie review

January 12th, 2018 Movie – Otis

otis

Well, we have about another week’s worth of movies that I got over Christmas and I am hoping that they keep getting better. Today’s movie is one that my friend Mark gave me. When my friend’s buy me movies, they tend to help feed my love for the completely cheesy, campy variety of movie. Mark will go along with that too but he also tends to buy me movies that are interesting or usually get better reviews than some other movies (though he did get me the Leprechaun 4-pack of movies so he is not completely without faults in this regard). Anyways, today’s movie is one of his picks and one I am looking forward to watching so let’s get started with Otis.

The plot: As an alarm wakes up a young girl named Kim, she is called by Otis, the man who has kidnapped her and has her chained in the room. Otis taunts her about what will happen that night, torturing her to get the responses he wants but Kim eventually yells at him and hangs up the phone. She then proceeds to cover up the camera’s Otis uses to watch her before going to hang herself. Otis races down to stop her only to find Kim had tricked him and she had actually pulled the chain free from the floor and uses it as a weapon to attack him. Otis tries to stop her and during the struggle, Kim falls into a bathtub and is electrocuted when a lamp falls into the water. Otis unplugs the lamp and after yelling about the 6 weeks wasted on her, he proceeds to saw her body into pieces. Some time later, Will and Kate Larson are talking about daily life while watching the news, where the Larson family is pleading for their daughter’s safe return, though the news anchor says she is most likely the latest victim of the serial killer. Meanwhile, their daughter Riley is dancing in her room in her underwear, when she notices someone watching her from the bushes outside her window. Heading out there, she discovers her brother Reed and his friend had been videotaping her and she quickly grabs the camera and takes it inside to show her parents. Sitting across from Reed, Will asks Reed what his problem is, as this is the latest in a string of incidents that he has done. When the doorbell rings announcing their food is there, Riley goes to get it and pays the delivery man, who happens to be Otis. Otis gives Riley the pizza and after she leaves, he smells the money she gave him, and a light shines on him as he has found his next victim. The next day, Will and Kate get onto Reed again about his grades and his antics at school, and he tries to deflect attention onto Riley before he leaves. Riley leaves to go to school when she is confronted by Otis, who quickly shoves a sack her into a sack and places her in his car, then knocks her out to keep her from screaming before driving away just as Riley’s parents leave the house. Riley comes too and finds herself chained to a bed and when the phone rings, she begs for help only to find it is Otis on the other end, who calls her Kim. Riley yells at him and tries to find a way out but Otis tortures her by turning the lights in the room super bright, burning her, and keeps telling her to say her name is Kim. That evening, Reed comes home to find his parents talking to a police officer and they question him about the fact that he put up pictures of Riley on the internet. Will receives a phone call from Otis, who tells him that he is dating his daughter Kim and asks for his permission to take her to prom, and says that if he plays along, his daughter will be returned to him, shocking everyone there. The next day, Otis talks to Riley, who discovers that she has been dressed in a cheerleader’s uniform, and when she refuses to say what he wants, he enters the room and yells at her to play along. Back at the Lawson’s house, the FBI are setting up to monitor any calls coming into the house so they can track the killer, informing Will and Kate that there have been 5 victims now, but Reed is more concerned that they are tearing up his room and computer than he is for his sister’s safety. Back in his lair, Otis is dressed in a football uniform and asks Riley to cheer for him when a sensor goes off and he quickly takes her back to her room and chains her to the floor, warning her to keep quiet. Otis then heads outside and is confronted by his brother Elmo, who yells at him for being late to work and the condition of their parent’s old house. When Otis asks about Kim, Elmo yells at him some more, saying Kim want’s nothing to do with him as his obsession with her has her freaked out when she caught him licking her underwear. Heading inside the house, Elmo stops when he notices a box containing his pictures of him in his football uniform and gets upset at the coach for never playing him, then chastises Otis again before leaving. That night, Otis calls the Lawson’s house again, this time talking with Kate, and the FBI attempts to trace the call. Reed tries to tell his dad that they won’t be able to save Riley, as they were unable to save the previous girls, but Will tells him to let them do their job, as they are all unaware that Otis was calling from right outside their house. Otis continues to go on pretend dates with Riley while her family continues to worry. When Otis calls the Lawson’s house again and tells Kate that he plans on having sex with Kim, Kate starts yelling out at him, surprising Reed with her venom, before Otis hangs up and Kate worries about what will happen to Riley. In his lair, Otis, calls Riley and asks if she is ready for prom, and she replies that she is and has her dressed picked out, saying everything Otis wants to hear. Otis has turned his garage into a makeshift prom and starts dancing with Riley, then puts her into the car and starts kissing her. Trying to keep from being raped, Riley tries to please Otis by giving him a hand job but when Otis ejaculates prematurely, he freaks out and drags her back into her room, and knocks her out, then leaves. As Otis heads outside, locking the shed that he keeps Riley in, he is confronted by Elmo, who asks what Otis is doing and proceeds to verbally abuse him. Meanwhile, Riley comes too and, realizing that Otis did not secure the chain to the floor, works on trying to escape. Riley uses the underwire from her bra to short out the electrified grate covering the air duct and proceeds to climb out through it and manages to escape as Elmo continues to berate Otis. Back at the Lawson’s house, they are all getting pissed off at Agent Hotchkiss, who is being too cavalier about the situation. As they talk outside, they get a call from Riley, who tells them she escaped and tells them who kidnapped her and where she was being held. Kate tells Riley to lock herself in the bathroom of the supermarket that she is at, as she will be sending an ambulance to pick her up, and then tells Riley not to repeat what she told them. After hanging up the phone, they are approached by Hotchkiss, who asks what is going on and they tell him that Riley had just called them and is okay. The Lawsons head to the hospital to see Riley before the doctor asks to speak with them. As they leave the room, Hotchkiss tries to question Riley about her kidnapper but she doesn’t tell him anything. Meanwhile, the doctor tells the Lawsons that Riley had suffered some head trauma and the hemorrhaging could cause some paralysis. That night, Will wants to let the police deal with Otis but Kate and Reed want to take justice into their own hands and convince Will to go along with them. They head to Otis’ house and wait for him to come home so they can attack him. Elmo shows up, bringing some groceries for Otis to eat and the Lawsons, mistaking him for Otis, proceed to attack him and knock him out. They then take Elmo to the garage and proceed to torture and beat him, with Will reluctantly helping them but when Kate says that Riley could be pregnant with Otis’ kid, Will gets into it. Back at the hospital, Hotchkiss is sitting in Riley’s room and when Riley wakes up, he questions her again and Riley tells him Otis’ name. Hotchkiss calls the Lawsons and tells them that Riley gave him a description of Otis and they realize that they have been torturing the wrong man. When they discover that Elmo is dead, they freak out and figure out what to do, eventually deciding to dump the body in a dumpster. When Otis returns home, he finds the mess in the garage and after trying to figure out what happened, he watches the feed from his video cameras and sees what they did to Elmo. At the hospital, Riley wakes up to find her family there and as she notices their guilty expressions, realizes they went after Otis themselves but doesn’t say anything when Hotchkiss shows up. Hotchkiss asks to speak with the Lawsons and tells them that they found Otis’ lair and how he had motion activated cameras that captured everything. As the Lawsons start feeling nervous, prompting Kate and Reed to pull out a knife and throwing star respectively. They are temporarily relieved when Hotchkiss says they cameras were facing the wrong way so they couldn’t see anything but they had the audio. Hotchkiss then says that he doesn’t plan on turning them in, only wishing that he could have gotten a piece of Otis himself. When Riley is brought home, she questions them about what happened and they admit that they killed Elmo by mistake, which horrifies Riley. As they argue about what they should do, Reed goes to get a shotgun and makes plans to kill Otis, placing an order for a pizza but Riley tells him that Otis never raped her. When the pizza gets there, Reed fires the shotgun repeatedly through the door but when the door falls off the hinges, Riley tells them that the delivery guy isn’t Otis.

This was a pretty good movie but there were some aspects that reminded me of a couple of other dark comedy’s I have watched. The acting was pretty good, with Daniel Stern (Will) and Illena Douglas (Kate) playing off each other very well as parents. I also felt that Jere Burns was rather creepy in his portrayal of FBI Agent Hotchkiss while Ashley Johnson (Riley), Jared Kusnitz (Reed), and Bostin Christopher (Otis) all did great jobs in their roles. The story was pretty good, with Otis basically reliving the glory days he felt his brother should have had, as well as living out his fantasy with his longtime crush Kim. The second half of the story, where the Lawsons decide to get some vigilante justice, was a little disturbing, but did have some humor to it to try and make it a little less gruesome. The only thing that I didn’t like was the lack of a real ending, as Otis basically just disappears and nothing else really comes of the whole situation except for Reed mistakenly killing someone else. The special effects were ok but the big thing was the dialogue, which really helped telling the story in this movie. This is a good movie and definitely well worth watching if you are a horror fan.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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