Vestron's C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud - This Chud's for You!

Well, I had another film lined up for today's post, but then I noticed how close to Halloween we are, and I figured I should stick with horror flicks until the end month.  So what's one I've been meaning to cover?  Oh, how about C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud?  I mean, I've got to do a post about it sometime, just to justify the fact that I bought this goofy sequel multiple times.  And oh boy, goofy is the word.
This film really has nothing to do with the surprisingly smart little horror flick that preceded it, except that they call their zombies "chuds" in this movie. The creatures in C.H.U.D. looked and behaved nothing like the zombies here, to the point where it feels more like this film started out as a script with no connection to C.H.U.D. at all (though they at least make a passing reference to them having previously been kept underground). Two students: Head of the Class's Brian Robbins (this was actually released while the show was still on the air) and his buddy steal a corpse from a military installation. Just like Night Of the Creeps, basically. And of course that corpse is really a chud who comes back to life and builds an undead army in their little suburban town. Robbins and his buddy try to keep everything under wraps and recover Bud before they get into trouble, which is made a little easier by the fact that its developed a crush on Brian's girlfriend Katie.  Yes, this is the kind of movie where a zombie gets a crush on a girl.
What works about this movie is that everybody really commits.  I'm not saying the performances are good, or the jokes are funny, but still, everybody's really throwing what they've got their characters.  Like, the "kids" are fine, but you know guys like Robert Vaughn and Gerrit Graham could totally sleep walk through a movie like this and no one would hold it against them.  But instead they're really giving it their all to make this film fun for their limited audience.  They're very big performances.  In fact, as I write this, I'm realizing what this basically is: an R-rated kids movie.  The violence is pretty mild, really.  This probably could've gotten the MPAA to give them a PG if they asked nicely.  It's like if you adapted Return Of the Living Dead for the Nickelodeon station, the same broad deliveries and simple, overdrawn humor.  It really feels like it's made for kids.  In fact, the screenwriter wrote Honey, I Shrunk the Kids the same year.  And it helps a lot that this film is packed with recognizable character actors and famous personalities that bring something extra to their roles, including television icon June Lockhart, Sniglet inventor Rich Hall, Bianca Jagger (Mick's ex), stand-up Ritch Shydner, M.A.S.H.'s Larry Linville, Norman Fell and an uncredited cameo by Robert Englund.  Plus it has a real ear worm of a theme song.
I used to own both C.H.U.D. films on VHS, and I upgraded it to the 2007 UK DVD on a whim.  Unfortunately, I sold it off long before I started this site, so I can't post any screenshots, but it was fullscreen, presumably taken from a videotape master, and completely barebones.  Then it kind of blew everybody's minds in 2012 when Lions Gate unceremoniously released a bunch of previously unseen widescreen masters in a couple of generic, sell-through compilation Horror Collection DVDs.  Wow, suddenly we had a respectable looking edition of Bud the Chud, along with a bunch of others.  I think the unexpected wave of fans who went out, filling forums with which Walmarts had which $5 discs in stock, seeking and buying those collections prompted Lions Gate to start their Vestron line.   And so that strange confluence of events gave way to something I don't think any of us expected to see: a fancy, special edition blu-ray of C.H.U.D. 2
2012 Lions Gate DVD top; 2017 Vestron blu-ray bottom.
The Horror Collection's DVD actually had a pretty nice looking transfer in its original widescreen AR, or at least close (1.78:1).  So it seemed like a safe assumption that Vestron would just present us with that same transfer slapped onto an HD disc.  But no, this seems to be a whole new master.  It's still framed in 1.78:1, but it's pulled out further, revealing a little more information along all four sides.  And the colors are corrected, getting rid of the reddish hue that was cast over the older edition, not to mention pulling a ton of information out of the shadows that was lost to black crush on the DVD.  It's still not a stellar presentation; the image is soft and the shifty grain tells us this film could still benefit from a new scan.  Plus it's low contrast, with no true blacks, giving the movie an overall washed out look.  But there's no debating this is the best the film has ever looked, and I can't imagine anyone's going to go back and give this title yet another HD pass.  So not top shelf but a pleasant surprise none the less.

Both discs just give us the original stereo mix, but it's clean; and really, what else would you need?  Vestron bumps it up to lossless DTS-HD and adds optional English subtitles, so we're all set.
Director David Irving provides an audio commentary that answers pretty much all the C.H.U.D. 2 questions those of us who grew up with the film have had over the years.  In fact, I think I might stick to just watching it with the commentary on whenever I revisit this film from now on.  We also get a couple great on-camera interviews with Bud himself, Gerrit Graham, Katie: Tricia Leigh and special effects artist Allan Apone.  There's also the theatrical trailer and an extensive stills gallery that shows someone (Red Shirt Pictures) put a surprising amount of attention into this title.  Plus, like every Vestron release, it comes in a shiny slipcover.  My first thought was just hoping that Vestron didn't lose too much money on this one and pull out of Vestron before they got to the higher ticket films in their catalog.
Well, fortunately it didn't stop them just as they got started.  I don't know if there's a lot of displeased blind buyers out there, or if this film has built up more of a nostalgic cult audience over the years than I realized.  But it has been a worryingly long time now since the last Vestron release, so my fingers are tautly crossed.  I mean, they still haven't gotten to Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor, Eyes of Fire, or Sundown: The Vampire In Retreat!  But on the other hand, look at all the special editions they've given us that I never thought we'd get to see.  I mean, can you believe Bud the Chud has a director's commentary?

No comments:

Post a Comment