First of all I have to say I didn’t want to read C.H.U.D. LIVES!: A Tribute Anthology because it was based on the 1984 cult classic horror movie. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie so I didn’t remember it well. I got this book because I’ve read a lot of the authors in it before and Crystal Lake Publishing puts out some awesome horror anthologies. I also loved the idea that it included interviews with a couple of the people who worked on the C.H.U.D. movie. It felt like a love letter to people who never forget the horror films they grew up watching. For the record if you love 80’s pop culture this book has a lot of references to the 1980’s which was a great decade for horror.
One of my favorites of the 19 stories in this book was Strange Gods by Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes. There’s a new religion in the sewers of New York. They worship two gods named Gog and Magog who bring purpose and purity to some but a vicious death to others. I love the concept of people trying to find meaning in a city where homeless people are getting eaten by monsters. I enjoyed the religious references here and the will to survive of the non-believers and how the non-believers come across as normal compared to the ones who started a new religion.
Another good one was Lost And Found by Greg Mitchell. This one is about a Grandpa taking his granddaughter to New York to visit her uncle just before the C.H.U.D’s wreak havoc in the city. This story deals with themes of redemption and standing up against the things you fear the most. For a short story it makes a great point on the importance of family and deals with both a physical horror with the C.H.U.D.’s and the psychological fear of abandonment and feeling powerless.
Samsa’s Party by Ben Fisher was another one that stuck out for me. This one is about a man whose back has been against the wall his whole life and recently he’s been living in the sewer. Things get worse though as people in the sewer go missing and the ones left are changing into something horrible. What I loved in this one was how so much depth is given to the homeless people before they become victims to what lurks in the darkness. Monstrous Me by Martin Powell is in the same vein. It’s told in a diary format and follows the story of a woman who is slowly changing from human into a C.H.U.D. I loved how the change happened as the main character loses her taste for food and craves human flesh instead. The author makes you care for this person and then you watch her slowly loose her mind and become a monster.
Reading C.H.U.D. Lives! is like reading a 1980’s horror movie if that was possible. Even the stories I thought were mediocre were still a lot of fun to read. Each story seemed to have heroes that had a lot of depth to them while the C.H.U.D.s came across as the ultimate unstoppable horror. In a world of vampire and zombie anthologies this book stands above the rest by being based on a movie that many people probably don’t remember. This book is a must read for hard-core horror fans.