Friday, 1 September 2017

CHUD II: BUD THE CHUD BLU-RAY review

The second release under the new Vestron Video label sees a shadowy government agency try to cover up for the fact that they've accidentally released a CHUD (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller) into a small town community, and he's started to get hungry.


There are a number of reasons why you may want to watch Bud the Chud. Maybe you saw the first film and wanted to see where the story, set in the New York City sewers, went next (This film has literally nothing to do with its predecessor)? Or maybe you're a fan of the work of Gerritt Graham (A recognisable supporting player given the title role here, even if he's a zombie corpse)? Or maybe you're a fan of trash cinema, a sub-sub-genre of pulpy films which this is a part of. That sounds a little unfair, but if it's not trash it's at the very least almost there; like the tea bag trail left behind on the lid of a bin.

Robert Vaughn appears in one of his hammiest roles (no small feat) as the Colonel in charge of the CHUD program, hoping to secure funding for future research into the reanimation of dead soldiers and desperate to keep the little snafu of Bud's release under wraps. Unfortunately for him some stupid teenagers have accidentally defrosted Bud's infected corpse and he's now making his way around town turning other people and the occasional dog into CHUDs along the way. If comparing him to other zombies, Bud is more like Day of the Dead's Bub than anyone else. Not merely a mindless killer, he's able to have a degree of thought, organising others to follow him in the pursuit of people to eat. At one point he goes and gets a haircut, which I'm pretty sure has never happened in a Romero film.


It also definitely didn't happen in the first film, as the CHUDs here have been given a dramatic makeover both in look and in demeanour. They don't even dwell underground anymore, and that's literally the second half of their name. Bud would be more accurately described as a CHAZ (Cannibalistic Humanoid Army Zombie), but then his name wouldn't rhyme, would it?

With their sharpened teeth and goofy grins they're almost cute. It's no surprise that the finale bears a resemblance to Joe Dante's Gremlins 2, a film series that mirrors the CHUD series' pattern of serious original, jokey sequel. It's also worth noting that the writer of Bud the Chud, Ed Naha, also wrote the original Troll film, another film whose sequel bore no relation to the first installment.

Despite his bitchin' mullet, lead annoying teenager Brian Robbins achieved nothing really of note as an actor, but has gone on to achieve some degree of infamy as director of such cinematic gems as Eddie Murphy's A Thousand Words, Meet Dave and Norbit. Also featured is Tricia Leigh Fisher, daughter of Debbie Reynolds and younger sister of Carrie Fisher. As Katie, the object of Bud's affection, she's not called upon to do much more than deliver spiky comebacks to the boys, and during the finale don a terrible swimsuit that Bud and the CHUDs find so appealing that they're willing to jump into a potentially deadly swimming pool to be near her.


Now, it's fair to say that CHUD 2: Bud the Chud (to give it its full title), is not a great movie. It's also questionable as to whether it's even a good one. But yet it's a film that I have a soft spot for, and have seen many times over the years since I discovered the joys of cult horror movies. This is never going to achieve the same sort of recognition as Troll or Troll 2 and I can't imagine there are many cinemas lining up to add it to their midnight movies rosters, but beneath the simple make-up and awkward comedy scenes lies a film that can't fail to raise a smile from anyone who's seen it.

That's partly down to the infectious and never ending theme tune that almost hypnotises you into going along with the movie, but perhaps most likely down to the performance of Gerritt Graham as Bud, who brings a lot of childlike charm to the role and will undoubtedly have you rooting for him to kill the annoying teenagers as soon as possible. He's an actor you may recognise from his role in one of the Police Academy sequels or possibly as Beef in Brian De Palma's recently re-appraised Phantom of the Paradise, but to me he's always going to be Bud the Chud.


So far I'm fully on board with the titles that Vestron have chosen to re-release, but I do think they've missed a trick in not taking the opportunity to rebrand this film somewhat to move it away from C.H.U.D., a film that has no cultural cache in the U.K. and to the best of my knowledge has never been commercially available on these shores. Sure, you could own an imported DVD of the region 1 release, but what kind of loser (me) would do that? The box art, although an accurate reprint of the original marketing, does nothing to represent the film, or its comic tone.

It's a shame that this film is burdened with the baggage of its predecessor, as although it might not be as well respected as the far more serious in tone original, it's the better of the two films. Not necessarily in terms of filmmaking craft, but if you asked me which of the two I'd like to sit down and watch, it's this one every time. Sure, the CHUD make-up doesn't go much further than a pair of comedy teeth and a slap in the face with some talcum powder, but the finale manages to deliver some decent visual effects, and in Bud, a different take on what it means to be a zombie.

Verdict
2.5/5

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