What makes one a Chewer? It isn’t just reading CHUD.com regularly, although that’s a great start. It definitely isn’t being an expert at mastication. Being a Chewer requires a certain sensibility that’s outside of the mainstream. Sure, a Chewer can hold his or her own in a Star Wars OT vs PT argument with a standard movie geek, and sure, a Chewer can go with the rest of the film snobs to an Ozu revival, but a Chewer also gets really, really excited about the DVD release of The Manitou.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be bringing you The CHUD.com Essential Films Collection – the films that would be in our dream Chewer DVD Box Set. These are 50 movies that we think every Chewer should see and love. This is by no means the definitive list of movies that make one a Chewer, but it’s a good start. It’s also in no order – the first films that we list are just as essential as the last ones. And it’s a list that will leave off the obvious as much as possible – you don’t need us to tell you to see Lawrence of Arabia or Seven Samurai.

So fire up your Netflix or your Amazon accounts – every day we’ll be bringing you two movies that are worth seeing, and probably worth owning as well. Chew on, Chewers.

Deterrence (Buy it from CHUD!)

http://chud.com/nextraimages/deterrenceCHUD.jpgThe Movie: President Walter Emerson (Kevin Pollak) is on the campaign trail with a small entourage when they find themselves stranded temporarily in a Colorado diner due to bad weather. Unfortunately for the guy, impending nuclear war with Iraq is one of the day’s specials, and he may be forced to order. What’s more is that the locals in the diner aren’t shy about sharing their opinions, either. Between all of this, Emerson has to make a decision that will change the world forever.

Why it’s Essential: This is where the work comes in, because getting somebody to watch a small, little-seen thriller starring Kevin Pollak, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Sean Astin, and Timothy Hutton is no easy task. But try this on for size: It’s a film about an unelected president (He was the vice-President and moved up when the President passed) who decides to threaten and face off with Iraq based on sketchy reports of WMD attacks that only he and a few others, including his tough black female security advisor, are privy to. And this was made in 1999. It’s also fascinating because this momentous decision is held up to scrutiny from ordinary average Joes in the diner acting as proxy for the American people. And despite the name value of the cast, almost everyone is on their game as the film builds to a very stark resolution that resonates more than ever.

- Micah Robinson

http://chud.com/nextraimages/prophecyinvertedbear.jpgThe Movie: Mercury in the water supply thanks to an abundance of industrial waste leads the local bear population to go from strapping and powerful furry mammals to strapping and powerful partially furry mammals who increase in size and develop a hatred for that most evil of species… MAN! Mutated and pissed, they exact sweet revenge by biting and slapping citizens both clean-shaven and bearded without prejudice. They even hate Indians, especially when essayed by Armand Assante, a man who’s as Indian as I am asteroid.

Why it’s Essential: Prophecy came out of the tail end of the ‘animals attack’ genre, but at a perfect time to also capitalize on the eco-horror that made the early 80’s so much eco-fun. The pedigree is surprising; with the writer of The Omen behind the typewriter and John Frankenheimer calling the shots. It also features Talia Shire at the height of her Adrian bouyed success and you just know she threw her weight around on the set of Rocky III saying “Do you know WHO I AM? I’m the female lead of Prophecy, damn you!”. The FX for the film range from bear-tastic to testicle-damaging but the film always manages to be both chilling in its marketing and mystique and insanely cheesy in execution. That it is also deadly serious makes it even more lovable. The late 70’s were a time before self-referential ruled the day and before the FX tools were substantial enough to allow for the eye candy to supercede. There’s something kind of innocent and beautiful about this flick but the real reason, the most important reason this film is essential can be viewed HERE.