The main bad guy in C.H.U.D. is a guy named Wilson who works for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. His diabolical scheme to dump nuclear waste in the tunnels under New York City has resulted in the homeless people living in those tunnels to turn into the flesh-eating freaks known as C.H.U.D.S. that have been terrorizing the city. Yes, Wilson has the power make lots of nefarious things happen but like any evil bureaucrat, he sometimes needs some hired muscle to carry out the less-delicate tasks. Thankfully for him, Gooney NRC Man is on the job.
Gooney NRC Man (that’s how it’s listed in the credits) is a man of mystery who, while having very little screen time, raises more questions than he brings answers. First of all, is that his actual job title? If so, then are we to assume the Nuclear Regulatory Commission really has enough thug-related work to warrant full-time employment? Or is he a sort of freelance hooligan who contracts himself out to a variety of government agencies so that if someone is, for instance, planning to tear down a potential national landmark he can become Gooney Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Man? Whatever the case, gooning at the NRC seems like a pretty nice gig, as it appears that every day is casual Friday. Just throw on your Izod and some jeans and you’re out the door!
My most burning question, though, is regarding where he received his formal training, particularly with respect to the art of intimidation. When A.J. stops at a payphone to try and alert the media about the C.H.U.D.s-eating-people cover-up, Gooney NRC Man hangs up the phone, grabs the dime from the coin-return slot, puts it in his mouth, and swallows it. Granted, he does all this while maintaining menacing eye contact, but I have to think that simply tossing the dime on the ground would have been just as, if not more, effective.
I’ll probably never get answers to the questions I have about Gooney NRC Man, but I suppose that’s the nature of his line of work. I like to imagine that he eventually got tired of working for the man and that he now runs his own goon-for-hire business out of a modern office complex with plans to retire in a couple of years. He and the other seasoned pros in the office stand around the water cooler telling the new guys fresh out of the goon academy about the merits of coin-swallowing as a means of inducing fear and then chuckle to themselves as they walk away. Being a goon ain’t what it used to be, but it ain’t so bad either.
And that’s why Gooney NRC Man is an unsung hero of 80s horror movies.