Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Vestron Video - RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 and C.H.U.D. II: BUD THE CHUD on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Vestron Video - RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 and C.H.U.D. II: BUD THE CHUD on Blu-ray

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 (1993; Brian Yuzna)
For some reason, my mind goes to odd places sometimes in attempts to encapsulate a film. In the case of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3, my brain goes to a completely unrelated line from the 80s classic LICENSE TO DRIVE. The late Corey Haim says, "An innocent girl. A harmless drive. What could possibly go wrong?". While ROTLD 3 isn't quite summed up thusly, there is an element of "what could possibly go wrong?" in there that amuses me. It's a continuation of the mythology of the military experiments with the very evil gas liquid "245 Trioxin" - which can reanimate dead tissue in a very nasty way. While zombies in other films of this ilk can be dispatched by taking out their brains in some fashion, Trioxin zombies don't stop when you try to put them down. They are like terminators and any part of them that you separate wriggles its way at you until you burn it out of existence. In ROTLD 3, our main character is a teenager named Curt Reynolds (J. Trevor Edmond). He has a leather-jacket clad wild thing of a girlfriend named Julie Walker (Melinda Clarke) and she's something of a bad influence on him. One of the first outings we follow them on finds them sneaking into a Military facility (Curt's dad is a Colonel stationed there) and witnessing some experiments with trioxin that go horribly wrong (in a gleefully gory kind of way). As you might infer from the box art (Julie is looking a little zombie-ish), there is a point where things go south for the couple and Curt decides he's going to resurrect Julie with a shot of trioxin. Good plan right? What could possibly go wrong? (see how my thoughts went to LICENSE TO DRIVE? No? Fair enough). He just wants to have the woman he loves back and this seems like the best idea at the time. As is always the case, trioxin is NEVER a good idea for anything and only leads to a whole dump-truck load of trouble. 
One thing I certainly appreciate about ROTLD  is the way that it levels up the disgustingness in terms of the corpses and how they tear people apart. Brian Yuzna directed and he is responsible for SOCIETY, which is one of the most vile and gruesome films ever created. Yuzna is also obviously tied very much to the RE-ANIMATOR films - having produced the first one and directed BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR himself. The gruesome and yet darkly comic world of RE-ANIMATOR very much feels like a sister universe to ROTLD 3. As a VHS renting horror fiend in my youth, I passed by this movie many times based solely on my own prejudices. For one, the cover made the movie look cheap to me somehow. I mean, it is cheap and I was far from averse to renting low-budget horror flicks, but this one just didn't look right to me. The other factor was that it was a Trimark movie. Trimark was a company that I became intimately familiar when I was working at a video store in the 1990s. We got tons of Trimark product in all the time and a big portion of it was kinda crappy so I became quite wary of any movie with that logo on it. Watching it today, I regret my lame preconceived notions and find that I enjoy it as a delightful piece of nostalgia that I missed out on. The only thing about it that still irks me is the somewhat terrible 90s synth score that remains and plays under much of the suspenseful scenes (it took me out a little). It's been mentioned too that this new Blu-ray contains the unrated cut of the film and they even took the time to re-conform the commentary (which was initially done for the R-rated version of the movie) to fit this version of the movie. I'm not always a die hard fan of "uncut" versions myself as they sometimes only put back a few seconds of gore - which I can take or leave honestly. In this case though, I am much more excited to see the extra bloodsoaked cut of the movie as that is one of its major selling points. 

Special Features:
-Audio Commentary with Director Brian Yuzna.
-Audio Commentary with Actress Melinda Clarke and Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Rainone.
- “Ashes to Ashes” – A Conversation with Director Brian Yuzna and Screenwriter John Penney
- “Living Dead Girl” – An Interview with Actress Melinda Clarke
- “Romeo Is Bleeding” – An Interview with Actor J. Trevor Edmond
- “Trimark & Trioxin” – Interviews with Production Excecutive David Tripet and Editor Chris Roth
- “The Resurrected Dead” – Interviews with Special Effects Designers Steve Johnson and Chris Nelson

Buy RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 on Blu-ray here:
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C.H.U.D. II: BUD THE CHUD (1989; David Irving)
This movie opens with a long steadicam shot through a hospital and I must say I am a sucker for long steadicam shot beginnings. We follow a doctor down to a room/lab where he meets the titular "Bud" the C.H.U.D. Simultaneously, we learn that the joint chiefs have discontinued the C.H.U.D. research program and that the last C.H.U.D. is to be terminated. The late Robert Vaughn plays a colonel who was excited about the program as he saw it as a means to create an force of powerful soldiers who could continue fighting after their deaths. The Colonel is not pleased that the C.H.U.D. program is ending. Bud (Gerrit Graham) is not happy either and puts up a bit of a fuss when they attempt to put him down. He ends up frozen as a result. He ends also ends up getting heisted by some bumbling high school kids (Brian Robbins from HEAD OF THE CLASS and Bill Calvert looking very C. Thomas Howell-y) who are trying replace another cadaver they "misplaced" (in a classic bit of slapstick which sees that body rolling through the streets on a runaway gurney). The goofball kids then accidentally re-animate Bud and thus he begins to run wild in a suburban neighborhood. The "C.H.U.D. Enzyme" functions very much like the 245 trioxin from ROTLD in that once a person (or animal) is bitten, they become "CHUDified" zombies who are seeking flesh to munch on. So you've got a serious monstrous threat mixed with high comedy. There's also a  STARMAN or ENCINO MAN kinda vibe of a "being discovering the world" with Bud here that is goofy and enjoyable.
Now, I've been a Gerrit Graham fan for quite a while. Between his turns in PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE and USED CARS alone, he cemented a place in the pantheon of legendary character actors. He is an incredibly gifted physical performer, so he brings a remarkable vibrance and comedic energy to his performance of Bud. Robert Vaughn is also gleefully bigger than life in his role as the Colonel and that is quite entertaining to watch as well. 
BUD THE CHUD was written by Ed Naha, who also penned movies like TROLL, DOLLS, HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS and ODDBALLS (one of my favorite underseen 80s camp comedies). I like Naha's writing and he is clearly inspired by some great stuff as he credited himself as "M. Kane Jeeves" for C.H.U.D. II. That name will be familiar to fans of W.C. Fields as "Mahatma Kane Jeeves" was one of the many pseudonyms he used as a writer on some of his movies (THE BANK DICK comes immediately to mind). So Naha's sensibility is one of comedic wackiness and cleverness that ends up elevating the whole movie from a throwaway horror sequel to a fun 80s romp. As a film title, C.H.U.D. II: BUD THE CHUD stands in good company with other great sequel subtitles like ELECTRIC BOOGALOO and THE QUICKENING - at least as far as I'm concerned.

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with director David Irving
- Interview with actor Gerrit Graham
- Interview with actress Tricia Leigh Fisher
- Interview with special effects artist Allan Apone

Buy C.H.U.D. II: BUD THE CHUD on Blu-ray here:
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Dennis said...

Amazing review of ROTLD 3! I gotta watch Chud 2 now, it sounds awesome. This blog rocks, keep up the good work!

Partially Poetry Partially Nonsense & Opinion said...

C.H.U.D. 2 also just became available on VUDU for free