Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Movie Review: C.H.U.D.

 I had never actually sat down to watch C.H.U.D. until it came up in my queue.  I had heard about it since its release back in 1984, but it sounded to me like just another 80s B-movie.  

 While that may be true, C.H.U.D. does stand out from its peers.

 First of all, it is a horror film with a message.  The homeless population in New York, and frankly anywhere in the world, goes largely ignored.  People who are homeless disappear or die with little or no interest from the rest of society, there passing often undocumented or simply becoming a part of the statistical data.  They are treated as less-than-human.  Couple this social problem with the issue of managing toxic-waste, and you have the makings for a horror film.
A Moleman on steroids...

 C.H.U.D. manages to take itself seriously, despite the outrageous premise.  The actors play their characters well, dealing with both the Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers who have run afoul of the Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal Project and the general social morass in a poignantly believable manner.  Only George Cooper seems to be out of place as the photo-journalist who observes yet stands apart from the situation.  As one of the protagonists of the film, he makes for a fairly shabby hero.

 The special effects are also fair... typical for an 80s film with latex masks, glowing eyes, and gallons of fake blood.  What really makes the film is its sets.  The underground environs are disturbingly realistic, enhancing every dark shadow and strange noise.  
It's the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

 Still, it is an 80s B-movie, not a masterpiece.  Growing up in the 80s, I can understand why it had the impact that it did.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Movie Review: Shark Night

 There is only one reason that I watched this PG-13 film about privileged college kids being eaten by sharks in a lake in Louisiana.  I watched it because it was next in my horror-film queue.  I knew it was going to be bad before I even pressed play.

 Nothing about the film itself makes it a bad film.  The actors all seemed proficient in their roles, and though the typical gang of 5 is present, they are not as stereotypical and one-dimensional as usual.  In fact, each of these kids has something admirable and noble about them, and each has overcome some manner of adversity in their lives.  

 Which is weird, other than to say that this story gives you and handful of heroic individuals, who, despite their lives of privilege and status, seem to genuinely care for one another and their fellow man.  Like that would actually happen.

 Opposite the heroes are the backwoods locals, who are as menacing, racist, sexist, and quick to violence as backwoods locals are supposed to be.  And, of course, they are the real bad-guys in the film.
"One time we made these city-fellas squeal like piggies..."

 The moral of the story is that being privileged and educated assures the creation of a solid citizen, whom the rubes of the sticks will always victimize and violate.  It's like the producers want to outlaw banjo music.

 The sharks are simply an improbable means to an end.

 The production quality of the film is high, although the CGI nature of the sharks was often obvious.  The special effects were so-so... I mean, it was mostly just blood foaming in the water.  This film is, after all, only PG-13. 

Spank-material for 12-year olds.
 And, of course, this means that while we have co-eds spending most of the film in bikinis, and even one scene where two of the girls turn their backs to the camera, remove their bras, and put on their bikini tops, there is no nudity.  Not only is this woefully unrealistic and a desperate attempt to inject some sexuality into the film without actually crossing the line into adult-land, but the girls are turning away from nothing and no one to let their breasts be seen through the open window they must face to avoid the non-existent observer in the room.

 Most women I have known would face one another while undressing to continue to make eye-contact throughout their conversation.  If they were a bit shy, they might turn their back to one another, but not to the empty wall and certainly not to face the open window. But, these girls are all so wholesome and sweet that they were probably born without nipples.

 I can't imagine watching this in 3-D.  That would couple watching a bad film with having to wear those annoying glasses.