C.H.U.D. II: BUD THE CHUD (1989) Blu-ray
Director: David Irving
Vestron Video Collector's Series/LionsGate

The inauspicious comic sequel C.H.U.D. II: BUD THE CHUD gets the red carpet treatment from LionsGate as part of their Vestron Video Collector's series.

When class prankster Steve (HEAD OF THE CLASS' Brian Robbins) and nerdy friend Kevin (Bill Calvert, TERROR SQUAD) accidentally send the cadaver their professor Proctor (Robert Symonds, THE EXORCIST) intended for class the next morning careening down the highway, they rope best friend Katie (Tricia Leigh Fisher, PRETTY SMART) into helping them replace it with one stolen from the Winterhaven Center for Disease Control. Little do they know that the corpse they take is soldier "Bud" Oliver (Gerrit Graham, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE), the last test subject of the CHUD project, a military experiment in which an enzyme was introduced into the brain to turn dead soldiers into living dead agents of biochemical warfare. Much to the consternation of Colonel Masters (Robert Vaughn, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN), the project was defunded due to concerns about the cannibalistic side effects of the drug; so Masters put Bud on ice in hope of resuming the project later. When Bud defrosts in Steve's bathtub and a shock from his mother's hairdryer awakens the CHUD's synapses, Steve, Kevin, and Katie believe they have discovered the secret of life. While they are basking in their triumph over at Bossy Burgers and considering how to reveal it to the public, Bud escapes Steve's basement and starts turning the residents of Winterhaven into flesh-craving CHUDs (starting with Steve's mother's poodle). When the military come knocking at Steve's door, the teenage trio hit the town to retrieve Bud, but they and the military realize far too late that the CHUD enzyme has mutated and the old methods of "frying CHUDs" no longer work. As hordes of CHUDs converge on the buffet that is the local high school's Halloween dance, Steve, Kevin, and Katie take it upon themselves to prevent a global apocalypse.

What might have made a decent 1980s horror comedy with teenagers against zombies (although on a much lower tier than NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) makes for a rather insulting and desperate follow-up to cult classic C.H.U.D. A comedic script by Ed Naha (TROLL) is a mishmash of sight gags and tired military satire with Vaughn chewing the scenery while the CHUDs (made up by RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD's Douglas J. White, RETURN TO HORROR HIGH's John R. Fifer, and NEON MANIACS' Allan A. Apone of Make-up Effecs Labs) take most of their bites offscreen. The teenage heroes are attractive but largely unmemorable, so overeager is the script to make them spunky and quirky with one-liners flying about at inappropriate times with Graham's lead CHUD providing much of the film's little comic value. A stream of cameos finds Norman Fell (THREE'S COMPANY), June Lockhart (PETTICOAT JUNCTION), Larry Linville (MASH), Priscilla Pointer (CARRIE), Robert Englund (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), Jack Riley (THE BOB NEWHEART SHOW), and Bianca Jagger slumming and desperate to provoke laughs as the film careens to a budget-challenged finale. The surprise ending apes that of a superior Vestron horror comedy Ken Russell's LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM to lesser effect. Clive Revill (THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE) makes an early exit as a doctor dispensing the CHUD drug to Bud's cadaver. C.H.U.D producer Andrew Bonime is not credited onscreen but is listed in the poster/VHS/Blu-ray credits block with credited producer Jonathan D. Krane already having experience in sequels with TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER and CURSE OF THE PINK PANTHER as well as Blake Edwards' remake of Truffaut's THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN.

Theatrically released and on home video by Vestron, C.H.U.D. II first hit DVD from LionsGate as part of their Walmart Exclusive HORROR COLLECTION 8 MOVIE PACK two-disc set – with WAXWORK, 976-EVIL 2, GHOULIES III, THE UNHOLY, CHOPPING MALL, SLAUGHTER HIGH, and CLASS OF 1999 – in a barebones anamorphic transfer. LionsGate's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 widescreen Blu-ray is bright, colorful, and well-detailed, countering the soft, hazy 1980s look the film has had in the past. The CHUD enzyme does not quite glow as vividly as RE-ANIMATOR's reagent, but neons and what little blood there is onscreen comes through boldly. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track is clean and forceful when it comes to the insistent synth scoring of Nicholas Pike (SLEEPWALKERS), including a "Bud the Chud" theme song. Optional English SDH subtitles are also included. The dual-layer Blu-ray is an admirable A/V presentation of an awful film.

Extras start off with an audio commentary with director David Irving (NIGHT OF THE CYCLONE) moderated by Michael Felsher. Irving discusses his show business family – father Jules Irving (RICH MAN, POOR MAN), mother Priscilla Pointer, sisters Amy (THE FURY) and singer Katie – and how his directorial debut GOOD-BYE CRUEL WORLD brought him to the notice of Menahem Golan and lead to him helming three musical fairy tales in a ten film series for Cannon Films in Israel (RUMPELSTILTSKIN, SLEEPING BEAUTY, and THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES) which then lead to C.H.U.D. II. Although a director-for-hire, he does voice a preference for the bizarre, listing his favorite director as Tod Browning (FREAKS more so than DRACULA) and revealing that he had not seen C.H.U.D. before accepting the sequel (he mistakenly describes the first film as straight horror in contrast to the sequel's comedy). He discusses the film's budget challenges (they could not afford to do the CHUD transformations onscreen so resorted to offscreen bites and sound effects), the youthful leads, and how influential Graham was in shaping the character and the comedy.

In "Bud Speaks!" Graham (16:18), Graham confesses to winging his performance here, noting that the character of Bud does not submit himself easily to "The Method", the influence of Irving's direction on his performance more so than the screenplay, and how the teeth appliances and make-up that allowed him full facial movements allowed him to realize Bud's basic emotions writ large. In "Katie's Kalamity" (12:45), actress Fisher reveals that she had not seen the film but "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers" had crept its way into the lexicon by the time she got the role in the sequel. She fondly recalls working with Robbins, Calvert, and Graham and the film as her first experience working with make-up effects (and becoming aware of horror fandom through the effects crew). She also recalls with embarrassment the bikini she had to wear throughout the film's climax and predicts the featurette's cheeky cutaways to clips of the scene. In "This C.H.U.D.'s For You!" (14:44), Apone recalls the pleasure of working with Graham as well as Jagger (who had also appeared in a MIAMI VICE episode he worked on), the designs of the CHUDs (he reveals that he worked mainly in the workshop while White and Fifer were on the set), and goes into detail about the workings of the explosive finale. Some behind the scenes video of the effects work appears in this featurette and might have made a nice extra in and of itself. A still gallery (6:20) and video trailer (1:47) round out the extras. The disc's cover and slipcover feature an attractive rendition of the rather deceptive original poster art. (Eric Cotenas)