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C.H.U.D: The Early Years


Smoke Gets In My Eyes… And Mouth…. And Ears

The classic scifi/monster films of yesteryear taught us two important concepts. #1 There are endless varieties of mutations and monstrosities born from our early Cold War fears of nuclear fallout and radioactive contamination. And #2, all of these creatures hate us. A lot. Today’s subject is no different.

Meet the Slime People, a race of subterranean creatures living under Los Angeles. Think of them like C.H.U.D., although I do not believe that they eat people. One fateful day, the Slime People decide to wake from their slumber in the underground lair they call “home”, and take to the streets of L.A. in response to recent nuclear testing. Nuclear testing that, I assure you, did not take place in the city of Los Angeles. Despite the word “slime” being featured prominently in the title of the film, their appearance is much closer to that of a reptilian walrus. “The Reptilian Walruses” just doesn’t quite have the same “ring” to it.


As the opening credits roll, we are granted a quick recap of the Slime Peoples’ rise to the surface world of man. While they might not eat humans, the Slimers (as they shall occasionally be called for the remainder of this review) sure have no qualms about killing us, as a few unfortunate victims are featured during this opening sequence. Bodies lay speared on the shore of the beach, waves crashing over the corpses. This immediate reveal of the creatures kills any sense of suspense or mystery surrounding the Slimers, but then again, as they are prominently featured on the theatrical poster, maybe “surprise” was not a factor.


The credits wrap and we find L.A. area sports reporter Tom Gregory (Robert Hutton – They Came From Beyond Space, The Colossus of New York) flying into town in his small, single-engine plane. He starts to experience unusually strong turbulence as he approaches. Tom radios in to the control tower and is told by the answering air-traffic controller to avoid landing in L.A. altogether. Tom ignores the warning and lands his plane anyway.

On the ground, all seems normal at first. However, Tom quickly realizes that the airfield is devoid of life. He attempts to make a few calls from a nearby pay-phone (a thing that used to exist), but not even the operator can be reached. Tom returns to his plane to radio the tower again, but he’s distracted by a car screeching to a halt on the tarmac nearby. The car is driven by a Professor Galbraith. In the car with him are his 2 young daughters, Bonnie and Lisa. They invite Tom into the car, the professor catching him up on events as they drive away.

Tom is informed about the insurgence of the Slime People. He’s told that the military were called in, but were quickly defeated by the Slimers. The creatures have since built some sort of dome to keep humans out, although a few survivors are still trapped inside, the professor and his daughters among them. To help illustrate the level of desolation caused by the Slimers, there is footage of buildings either demolished or in some state of ruin. They also find a wrecked car, the murdered family still inside.

Tom recommends going to the TV station in order to see if they can find any footage on the Slimers. While we’ve seen quite a few of them, our cast have not. They do indeed find footage, in this case, of the first emergence of the Slime People. These broadcasts also reveal that the fog is formed by some sort of solidified fog.

As soon as the footage ends, the Professor states, “Well, that’s how it began.” To this profound scientific insight, Tom has no response. There are no further questions. And that’s one of the many great things about a majority of these nuclear-age monster flicks. There might be a brief, highly suspect explanation as to where the monster came from which everyone accepts at face value like this is some normal, everyday shit that they are going through, but there’s usually no further exploration into the monster’s genesis. Did the Slime People have some horrible childhood traumas that led them to today’s events? Who gives a shit? You got some damned monsters. Be happy with that.

Our small group exits the screening room just as the Slime People are surfacing for the day. Some of the footage used during the film’s opening is reused here. They flee into an adjacent studio. There they meet Calvin, a Marine in hiding from the Slimers. Calvin bears some resemblance to a younger Conan O’Brien. Calvin and the younger daughter, Bonnie, hit it off and are soon making out like teenagers. Within minutes they are planning the beginnings of their future together. Good luck with that.


The Professor soon determines that the Slimers are somehow altering the atmosphere within the dome so that they can survive on the surface for longer periods of time. The Professor is a professor. He just knows these things. It is decided that they must venture out from the relative safety of the studio in search of supplies that can be used to break down the dome’s wall. Tom, however, may be a little more concerned with using his tongue to search for Lisa’s tonsils.

In their search, they cross paths with Norman Tolliver (Les Tremayne – War of the Worlds, The Monolith Monsters), an author that Tom happens to know. Tolliver also happens to be mentally unstable. And he might be in love with a sheep. Either way, he is taken along for the ride.

In time, Bonnie is captured by a Slimer and taken back to their underground lair. The cleavage featured in the poster image above, however, does not make an appearance. Tom and Calvin must now rescue Bonnie, as well as continue the search for something that can be used to break down the dome. While there are a few short fight sequences between our heroes and their monstrous counterparts, most of the remaining run time is primarily spent watching Tom and Calvin wander around in the thick “mist”.

nbb I Swear, There Are Slime People In There Somewhere

This leads us to what is easily the biggest drawback when it comes to trying to watch this movie. The “mist”. While the effect used here appears to be nothing more than your run-of-the-mill fog machine, the fog layer is far too heavy and tends to obscure most of what is happening on-screen. As most of these later outdoor scenes are the same ones that feature our heroes’ battles, it literally buries the action.

Acting tends to range between forced melodrama and subdued hysterics. Despite this, as well as the vision-blurring miasma of mist, The Slime People is still highly enjoyable. The Slimers aren’t the best rubber suits that you’ve seen, what with their dunce cap heads and Cookie Puss faces, but the performers inside seem to have more fluidity of movement than quite a few of their counterparts of the era.

While it can’t hold its own against schlock gems such as The Horror of Party Beach or Sting of Death, The Slime People is still a solid choice for some rainy day entertainment. The film moves at a fairly brisk pace, and at only 76 mins, it will be over quicker than you think. It’s just such a damn shame that nearly half of the film is such a struggle to actually SEE.