Friday, November 17, 2006

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

(1989) **

By now it was the last two days of the contest. I'd fallen behind on my reviews and so I hadn't been sending my Netflix selections back since I hadn't grabbed any screenshots yet. Naturally, it was too late when I realized that meant I wasn't going to get the two flicks on which I really, really wanted to end the contest. My only option was to hit Five-Star Video near my old house, and one of those two I had to snag on VHS. How's that for a teaser?

Neither of the movies I'm talking about are C.H.U.D. II, but if you get two movies at Five-Star the third one's free. This was the same day I would be seeing Grudge 2; my time was short and I knew what I wanted to find: a one star movie. I hadn't had one so far this year, largely due to all the great horror that's been coming out recently. Leeches! just wasn't quite bad enough, Snowbeast just didn't evince the hatred I reserve for the loathed one-star flicks. I wanted the cinematic equivalent of a Jackass stunt I saw once: I wanted a movie so bad it was like getting hit in the ass with a professionally-flung jai-alai ball.

And there, in front of me, was Five-Star's VHS horror section, the source of so many wonderfully bad choices from the 2004 contest. It's obscure like a video section from some parallel dimension, although I noted with satisfaction that a number of strange titles had been watched by one or more of us in previous contests. But which one to get tonight? A cheapo adaptation of some public-domain H.P. Lovecraft story? The 70's movie so vague that its box graphics were put together on a xerox machine? Eventually I went with this one, because the parenthetical appearances credited to its two main players were Head of the Class and Police Academy Six. "Six?" I thought, "they had to reach that far to try to entice me? It must be crap!"

Well, crap it is, but not nearly the crap I was hoping for. Two college kids lose the school's science cadaver by letting it roll away on a gurney. Rather than go get it, they decide it's easier to just steal a corpse from the local military complex (it turns out it is easier).

Enter the military, led by Robert Vaughn. It turns out the corpse is Bud, the last C.H.U.D. left over from the now-defunct military experiment to make...anyone? Anyone? Yes, that's right: super soldiers. If you've seen the original flick this is where you stand up, ruffle your hair and yell "Hey! They're rewriting the rules of C.H.U.D.! What happened to Underground, for pete's sake? This is like Xtro II, they're just trying to profit off of a successful name!" Then you reconsider, realizing neither Xtro nor C.H.U.D. were very successfull. Hopefully you did that before saying anything out loud.

*Sigh* Xtro II, now there was a one star movie.

In his review, I'mnotMarc declares the events leading to Bud's revival too ridiculous to recount. He's right, but I need to include one element I loved for its pure amateurishness. Bud's lying in a full bathtub (never mind) while our heroes are in the bathroom trying to make plans without the parents overhearing, so instead of talking in low tones one of them turns on the hair dryer and starts waving it around over the tub. This was the same guy who saw their first corpse rolling away and said "forget it, it's gone."

Horror/comedies like Slither or Shaun of the Dead are good because they've got real horror movies attached to them. C.H.U.D. II doesn't: what were reptilian monsters with glowing eyes in C.H.U.D. are now just folks in light green makeup whose teeth have been blackened to look sharp. They caper around from gag to gag, led by the admittedly amusing Bud (the P.A.6 guy), eventually winding up at the school costume dance for more capering. Approaching the building, they momentarily imitate a step from the Thriller video, then while at the dance they keep trying but failing to bite the students, as the kids' dance steps keep making them miss.

I know this sounds loathable enough for a single star, but the performance by Robert Vaughn is enough to boost it higher. He plays the general in charge of the C.H.U.D. project, and since we see the project's funding cut right at the start, the escape of their lone C.H.U.D. is the best thing that could happen for him. He follows the growing army around with glee, celebrating each C.H.U.D. victory as evidence of the project's success and dismissing the resultant human carnage. He's also got great lines like "in my day, when a kid stole a corpse he'd be punished for it!"

I wish this was on dvd so I could find of pic of the "hot" bathing suit the heroine dons to bait the final C.H.U.D. trap. It's one of those late 80's fashion debacles that must've seemed clever at the time, but now makes you wanna go back in time and somehow erase the late 80's. I would've done that already if it didn't mean I'd have to lose my virginity again.

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