Robert Waters was kind enough to write about his experience with C.H.U.D. and how the 80s molded him as a writer.
My name is Robert E Waters, and I’m one of the 21 authors featured in the upcoming C.H.U.D. anthology, C.H.U.D. Lives! And indeed it does live, in the collective minds of all who grew up in the 1980s and enjoyed that decade’s horror films. But, let’s back up a little bit…
I was born in 1968, the year that saw a lot of social upheaval, but a year that also saw the release of Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead, two horror classics that have, without doubt, withstood the test of time. Naturally, I was too young to watch those movies on their release, but it wouldn’t be long before I would huddle in fear under a blanket on the couch as I watched Friday night reruns of Big Chuck and Hoolihan, a creature-feature type show that they used to pump into black-and-white TVs around Cleveland, Ohio. One of my fondest memories (well, fond memory now; not so then…) was having a sleepover with one of my friends, staying up late to watch the 1941 Wolfman with Lon Chaney Jr. and Claude Rains, falling asleep mid-way through, and then waking up in a dreamy daze thinking my hands were covered in thick monster fur. Oh, what crazy and fearful times were those!
But it wasn’t until the early 80s when my love for horror films and horror fiction took serious root. I discovered the fiction of Stephen King, Nick Sharman, James Herbert, Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, and many others as I was beginning to develop this wild notion of becoming a writer. And the horror film classics of that decade are undeniable—The Shining, Friday the 13th, The Howling, The Evil Dead, The Thing—and on and on and on. In my mind, the 1980s is still one of the best decades for horror films and fiction, and horror was the only thing I read for years. If you knew me in middle school, I was never seen without the latest horror novel in hand.
C.H.U.D. (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) was released in 1984. I was too young and it was too R-rated for me to see in the theater, but I rented it years later on VCR. The first scene with actress Laurie Mattos (aka Flora Bosch) and her cute little white dog, hooked me. I loved the movie, even though I could tell that it was a pretty low budget affair. It was intense, funny, dramatic, always campy, but thoroughly entertaining. Looking back on it now, I’m quite amazed by how much great acting talent was in the film: Daniel Stern, John Heard, John Goodman, Chris Curry, Kim Greist, and many others. Many of these fine actors have gone on to have fine careers, and who would have guessed that a film about cannibals in the sewers of New York would have been the springboard for so many Hollywood stars?
Many, many years later, I met editor/author Eric Brown at the LibertyCon SF convention in Chattanooga, TN. We spoke about collaborating on stories set in Eric Flint’s alternate history series, 1632/Ring of Fire. Several collaborations later and Eric invited me to join the C.H.U.D. tribute anthology. I agreed immediately, but I hadn’t seen the movie in years. That night, I ordered it up on my local cable provider, and thirty minutes later, I knew the story I wanted to write.
That iconic first scene of a lady walking her dog down a dark, steamy street, pausing near a manhole cover to pick up a handkerchief, and then being grabbed and pulled to her death by a powerful green hand out of that same manhole, made me ask the question, “Who is this woman, and why was she walking her dog down the middle of that street?” Later on in the film, we learn a little more about Flora Bosch, but I was not satisfied. I wanted to know more. Who was she? What kind of person was she? And indeed, what drove her to walk that poor little dog down that street at that exact moment?
My story “Dog Walker” is, at least, a modest attempt at trying to explain who Flora Bosch was and why she was there. I had trouble at one point finishing the story because I knew what was going to happen to her, and I didn’t want it to happen. I had spent many hours breathing life into this woman, and I didn’t think she deserved the end that she got. But, that is life, and when you play a role in a horror film, can you expect anything but a gruesome death?
I hope you enjoy my story and all the other stories in C.H.U.D. Lives! There is as much writing talent in this anthology as there was in the film… even more.
About Robert Waters:
Robert E Waters is a technical writer by trade but has been a science fiction/fantasy/horror fan all his life. He’s worked in the gaming industry since 1994 as a designer, producer, and writer. In the late 90’s, he tried his hand at writing fiction, and since 2003, has sold over 50 stories to various online and print magazines and anthologies, including the Grantville Gazette, Eric Flint’s online magazine dedicated to publishing stories set in the 1632/Ring of Fire series. Robert is currently working in collaboration with Charles E Gannon on a Ring of Fire novel titled, 1636: Calabar’s War. Robert has also co-written several stories, as well as the Persistence of Dreams, with Meriah L Crawford, and The Monster Society, with Eric S Brown.
He has also written in several tabletop gaming universes, including Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy series and in the Wild West Exodus weird tech/steampunk universe. He has also dabbled a bit in Warlord Games’ Beyond the Gates of Antares milieu, writing about assassins and rescue missions.
Robert currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife Beth, their son Jason, and their precocious little cat Buzz.