Rick & Morty’s season 5 outing “Rickdependence Spray” references ’80s horror-comedy CHUD with its Horse Cannibals, but does the comparison end there?
WARNING: The following contains SPOILERS for Rick and Morty, season 5, episode 4, “Rickdependence Spray.”
Rick & Morty’s most recent outing “Rickdependence Spray” features a tribe of horse cannibals referred to as CHUDS by the show’s heroes, but oddly, the characters don’t otherwise bear many relations to their ‘80s horror namesakes. Since the inception of the Adult Swim series, Rick & Morty has never been shy about wearing its influences on its sleeve. Rick & Morty has spoofed all manner of genre fare over its five seasons and the show’s latest outing is no exception in this regard.
According to the show’s trailers, Rick & Morty season 5 will include a Hellraiser homage, but the recent episode “Rickdependence Spray” (season 5, episode 4) saw the series reference a less famous (though no less fondly-remembered) ‘80s horror outing. C.H.U.D. was a 1984 horror-comedy, and it provides the acronym-based name for this episode’s bizarre Horse Cannibal characters. Oddly enough, though, the Rick & Morty outing’s Horse Cannibals have very little in common with the titular threats from C.H.U.D.
C.H.U.D. (which stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller) satirized gentrification and corporate pollution with its killer CHUDS, homeless people who came in contact with irresponsibly disposed of nuclear waste and became killer mutants. The movie, which starred a pre–Home Alone John Heard and Daniel Stern, depicted its eponymous monsters as mindless killers desperate for food and with little humanity left. However, despite Rick & Morty promising horrific monsters in its promotional materials, the show’s Horse Cannibals are a civilized bunch with subterranean buildings, a society, and the ability to communicate (and, in Rick’s case, even procreate) with human characters.
It is a bit bizarre that the episode references CHUDS with the name of these Horse Cannibals as, while they technically are cannibalistic underground dwellers and do have some humanoid characteristics (the “H” in this case could also stand for “horse”), the Horse Cannibals share very little creative DNA with the monsters of the classic ‘80s horror-comedy. If anything, the episode’s killer sperm function more like the CHUDS in terms of storytelling, being mostly mindless monsters who were created by human oversight and are now rampaging through an urban center and killing everything in sight. Rick & Morty season 5 has subverted viewer expectations repeatedly and this episode is no exception, with the show’s CHUDS being nothing like their movie namesakes.
The Horse Cannibals are never actually seen engaging in cannibalism, although they do attempt to cook Rick and Morty in a narrowly-averted death trap at one point, whereas the CHUDS of CHUD is introduced in the act of dragging an unfortunate civilian underground through a manhole for immediate consumption. The Horse Cannibals also have a functioning society that even includes citizen assemblies and traditions, whereas the CHUDS are very much animalistic monsters with limited mental capacity. Along with parodying action cinema, this Rick & Morty episode spoofs monsters movies by making its Horse Cannibals an eloquent, sentient race unlike their ‘80s inspiration. Meanwhile, as if to reinforce the comparison between the Rick & Morty’s episode’s sperm characters and the monsters from the ’80s horror classic, lone sequel C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud featured surprisingly sympathetic CHUD who could communicate and form a bond with the heroes, much like two-tailed Sticky does in this Rick and Morty episode.
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