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|Index||106 reviews in total|
That Larry Cohen...after B-movie home runs like "Q", "It's Alive" and
"God Told Me To," what would this spiritual cousin of William Castle
think of next?
How about a living dessert that likes to eat people as much as people like to eat IT?
That's the bottom line of THE STUFF, a yuk (and YUCK)-filled black comedy that some will find...WAIT FOR IT...an "acquired taste." (Bah-dum-BUM!)
Longtime Cohen associate Michael Moriarty is back for "seconds" as sharp-as-a-tack food industry mole David "Mo" Rutherford. (That's "Mo" as in "Mo' MONEY!") With the initial discovery and distribution of THE STUFF, it's bitch-slapped the sales of all other desserts, especially ice-cream, and now the suits behind the scoops want to know all about what this "stuff" is and how they can sabotage its popularity.
Amongst Larry Cohen's typical all-star cast ensemble: Andrea Marcovicci as a Mad Ave exec who created the campaign promoting the wildly popular new dessert; Garrett Morris as a "Famous Amos" clone who wants to help Mo (after all, it IS in his best interests); Danny Aiello as an FDA official who mysteriously got THE STUFF approved with no red tape whatsoever, and Paul Sorvino as a 'Strangelovian' right-winger who proves to be a valuable ally, once he's been convinced that THE STUFF is a "threat to national security"...never mind that it's a whole lot worse than that!
I love the fact that you can get really deep about this movie, and how Cohen is giving American consumerism and the greed for "more, more, more STUFF" consumes us all as we consume all the crap we don't really need, but are programmed to blindly want. Or you can just screw all the intellectualism and just groove on the fact that this is a BLOB/BODY SNATCHERS/BLUE SUNSHINE hybrid that's just a helluva lot of fun to watch!
A delicious, mysterious goo that oozes from the earth is marketed as
the newest dessert sensation. But the tasty treat rots more than teeth
when zombie-like snackers who only want to consume more of the strange
substance at any cost begin infesting the world.
Writer and director Larry Cohen does what he does best... we are brought a story of real-life American values, twisted into horror to tell us what we may already know but simply do not realize. Consumers will buy anything that is popular, regardless of how awful it is. And big business will sell anything for a profit even if it is harmful... and pretty much no one will stop it. Even without the horror aspects (which borrow very heavily from "The Blob") or the social commentary, the story itself is pretty good and Michael Moriarty (multiple award winner) is the same guy we have come to love from "It's Alive III" and "Q".
Actually, Moriarty's presence in Cohen's films is always something of a mystery for me. Moriarty, as many know, is also a very conservative commentator, sometimes even bordering on racism with his critique of the Muslim and Arab world. He seems to be on the opposite pole as Cohen, if I am interpreting his films correctly. Kim Newman apparently sees this, too, as he describes their relationship as "thorny". But maybe this is the proof of just how great Moriarty's acting really is. Cohen says they work well together because they both look through the world as if they're playing jazz, improvising off of each other. Indeed, few actors could be as professional and simultaneously eccentric as Moriarty.
The special effects are pretty decent. A few scenes are cheesy, and you can tell shots are layered... but the hotel room scene (where they use the spinning room from "Nightmare on Elm Street") is awesome, and even in general you have to hand it to them for making a very lifelike creature from what looks to be nothing more than spoiled egg nog (but probably not as tasty).
Any Larry Cohen fan is going to like this, and even by mainstream horror standards it is pretty good. It is a b-movie, but not nearly as "b" as some of the films he pumps out. As I have said, underneath it all is just a retelling of "The Blob" (noticeably released before the remake with Shawnee Smith came out).
Cheap DVD copies are floating around, but now fans have an even better option, thanks to the Arrow Video blu-ray. Beyond the improved sound and picture (a 2K scan of the negative), we have a 52-minute "Can't Get Enough of The Stuff: Making Larry Cohen's Classic Creature Feature" with Cohen, a producer, actors and effects people. Oh ,and historian Kim Newman. And one other treat: An introduction and trailer commentary by director Darren Bousman!
And just what IS The Stuff? Well, physically, The Stuff looks like marshmallow Fluff, but it's also as addictive as supercrack and as zombie inducing as an alien space pod. And it just happens to be the latest dessert craze to sweep our nation, in Larry Cohen's 1985 sci-fi satire "The Stuff." As other dessert manufacturers go belly up, industrial spy Michael Moriarty is hired to find out just what this Stuff is all about, and he is assisted by Andrea Marcovicci (a Madison Ave. exec who is pushing The Stuff) and by a Famous Amos-like character played by Garrett Morris. Paul Sorvino pops up toward the end as Col. Spears, who seems to head his own private army, and he too is instrumental in the fight against the deadly confection. Anyway, like The Stuff itself, "The Stuff" is fun to consume but leaves one wanting still more. It has an intriguing plot, and its satire on this country's rampant consumerism does work, but at the same time, there aren't enough exciting set pieces, and the film's joking tone fritters away any real sense of suspense. This movie might have worked a lot better if it had been more serious, and less tongue in (Stuff-stuffed) cheek. It doesn't quite hold together somehow--possibly the fault of the script or the editing--and though the film looks fine, with nice Blob-like Stuff FX, it still feels slapdash somehow. But wait till you see Abe Vigoda and Clara "Where's the Beef?" Peller do a Stuff TV commercial, and hear that catchy jingle ("Enough is never enough, of The Stuff"). Fun stuff indeed!
This movie is a combonation of "Invaders From Mars" and "The Blob" and a good one. Written and directed by cult film director Larry Cohen ( It's Alive, Q ) and stars Michael Moriarty in an excellent performance. The Stuff itself is depicted in a variety of special effects shots. Including matte paintings, stop-motion models, gross make-up effects, Rod-Controled puppets and live action mechanical effects. There is also a lot of atmosphere in the story and cool miniature effects. The Stuff is a very different movie and if you're into these king of fantasy/horror films rent it tonight!
They should remake/reimagine 'The Stuff.' The premise is good, for B-Movie quality, that is, and was originally well executed in the film. Then all of a sudden, the director and actors remembered they were making a silly B-Movie and acted accordingly. But, even with the worst B-Movies, there is always a level of consistency, such as the similar 'The Blob.' The original 'Blob' showed us a creature (mass) that consumed victims and grew bigger. The horrid 1988 remake showed us a (now) pink blob and gave a more realistic reasoning behind why it consumed humans. (Pink?) 'Stuff' shows us some yogurt that pumps from the ground, sometimes moves on its own, sometimes doesn't. Sometimes it leaves its host and returns, sometimes it leaves killing the host. Sometimes it's allergic to fire (a cheap reverse rip off of the freezing cold enemy of the Blob) sometimes it rolls in it. Sometimes it needs to be refrigerated, sometimes it's fine warm. There was no consistency. I am aware it is a campy B-Movie, but like I said in the beginning, there was hope here for a decent sci-fi thriller so remake it with a better script. It was if the creators had "special effects" to spare and screamed 'Look at what I can do!' (Said in best Stuart voice from MadTV reruns.) Believe it or not, the main character (not that boy oh, God, I hope this was his first/last film) 'Mo' Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) was actually funny enough to get through to the end. I first watched this film when I was 8 or 9 and it freaked me out beyond terror. Not that I would recommend it to the under 10 crowd, but you'd really have to have that mentality to be scared of 'The Stuff.'
I have been trying to find this movie for over the last 20yrs. Back in
1985, I saw the trailer for it on T.V. and it started out with an ice
cream truck driving down the street. Some kids and adults gathered
around the truck while the announcers stated that "The Stuff" was here.
It's creamy, yummy and you can't get enough of it. Then it showed a man
who had eaten about half his ice cream cone and the announcer changed
his tone and said, "It will take you over, eat you and kill you." and
the camera zooms up on the guys mouth, and you can see the creamy white
"Stuff" eating away the inside of his mouth. Bleah!! It was pretty
gross and freaked me out back then. Something like this would have
4-10yrs old running from their T.V. sets. Talk about setting up kids
I tried googling "parasite eating ice cream" to no avail, until one day on IMDb, I was looking up info on an old "Snuff" film from the 70's and saw "The Stuff" come up. Immediately, I knew this was the film. So I ran to the video store and was able to rent it.
Not only was this movie, not scary, but the acting and the comedic nature were even worse. To make a long story short, here is the premise. Two guys working at a petroleum factory stumble across a pool of white creamy stuff in the ground. One of the guys sticks his finger in it and tastes it. Now I don't know about you, buy any normal person would never taste anything coming out of the ground unless it was water from a Spring pool. Anyway, the guy who tastes it says it taste real good. So good in fact, that they decide to market it as a new kind of ice cream treat, even though it's "not" ice cream. Before you know it, it's the best thing since the hot dog and everyone is eaten the stuff in gallons. People who try it, can't stop eating it. This causes other tasty treats on the market to lose profits. Several snack food manufacturers come together and hire an investigator to find out where and how this "Stuff" is made. In comes David 'Mo' Rutherford, the private detective who will investigate this tasty treat's mystery. He soon finds out that "The Stuff" is causing people to become uncontrollable zombies. The Stuff takes over their bodies and when it's done using them, it eats their insides and leaves through their mouths. It's alive. He also eventually finds out where this stuff is being stored.
The special effects of this "stuff" is average at best. The movie "The Blob" (Steve McQueen) did a better job and that came out many years before this. The acting is pretty back. Only Michael Moriarty seems to be enjoying himself. Paul Sorvino and Danny Aiello are completely wasted in this film. Garrett Morris makes a short appearance, but he was actually better in "Car Wash" then in this campy horror flick. Actually, his scene is the only scary part in the film. You'll see.
The whole movie is pretty far fetched and if this "stuff" was at retailers everywhere, wouldn't there be other investigators and even FBI agents investigating this problem? I think Larry Cohen was basically trying to send a message to consumers who constantly eat and drink the same bad foods day after day (Starbucks coffee, donuts, burgers, french fries and of course ice cream). He's saying don't eat this crap as it can eventually kill you, just like "The Stuff". We get it, but it still doesn't make the movie any better.
I also think some of the scenes were removed from the film as well. Besides the ice cream truck scene in the trailer, I thought the poster scene with Jason's family in the kitchen on the floor being eaten by the Stuff was in the movie as well. It didn't show up on the DVD, so either it was cut or it never existed and I'm imagining things. A sequel to this movie could be interested if done right. The story of how the "stuff" is discovered would need to be changed of course, but an adequate sequel could be accomplished. Similar to how "The Blobl" was remade.
This movie is not really worth a look. If you must see it, just rent it. It's not even a horror cult classic like The Cube, Phantasm, The Howling or Donnie Darko. I gave it a 4/10 and that was probably being generous. If you're going to made a comical horror film, watch Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 and take lots of notes. "The Stuff" isn't funny or scary. It's mostly a waste of time.
As a rather unsubtle allegory of mindless consumerism The Stuff works
quite well. It'd be easy to dismiss it as an 80's shlockfest but there
is some brains behind it and Larry Cohen (the very man who wrote Maniac
Cop, Phone Booth and Cellular) keeps the film fun until the last frame.
It's a cool story too. A weird goo oozes out of the ground in a quarry and it tastes good. So good in fact that within days it's being sold in mass, mass, incredibly mass quantities to the whole country. People are having it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desert and supper. They feed it to their pets and put it in their coffee. Enough is not enough as the slogan goes.
Rival candy companies don't like the look of this and hire a very smooth industrial spy, David 'Mo' Rutherford, to find out exactly what it is. What he finds is rather sinister indeed. And with the help of a commercial maker, a runaway kid and a gung-ho militia leader he tries to put a stop to The Stuff.
My main problem is that the origins off The Stuff and its 'intentions' are never fully revealed or exploited. It ends without a satisfactory explanation which is quite a shame considering how much potential is wasted. There are stories that Larry Cohen cut 30 minutes of erm stuff from the movie and perhaps there's more to the missing scenes. But for what it is, The Stuff, is a fun 90-minute movie that will not linger in your memory too long after seeing it.
Anchor Bay's DVD of The Stuff presents the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is generally clean and dirt free but has some trouble in a few scenes. The Mono sound is adequate and tolerable but the ADR is too apparent in the early scenes and there are brief drop-outs towards the end. A commentary by Larry Cohen is also included.
The Stuff is strictly tongue in cheek. Everything in this movie was done for a purpose. From it's bad acting, to the playful script and many cuckoo characters...all of this works to the film's advantage. The Stuff is another great movie for the Halloween season. Another thing...The Stuff looks so damn deliciously good and creamy. I would eat it in a heartbeat. F**k being invaded by it's evilness! It looks so damn tasty!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Are you ready for the most ridiculously awesome movie plot ever? A few
railroad workers notice some mysterious white goo bubbling up from the
ground. They decide to taste it (what?) and, surprise, it's delicious!
In no time, it's being scooped into pink and orange containers and
marketed as The Stuff, a zero calorie sweet treat that you're gonna
love! And people really do love it they're out at 2am to get a cup of
it, eating it for every meal, and talking to each other like they're in
some kind of creepy ice cream cult.
David "Mo" Rutherford (played by Michael Moriarty) is a former FBI agent turned industrial saboteur, and he's hired by the suffering ice cream industry to figure out the secrets behind The Stuff. He soon finds out with some help from young Jason (played by Scott Bloom, with the creepiest eyes ever) that the addiction is far more sinister than it seems at first glance.
The story itself is, of course, complete fantasy but I do appreciate the deeper symbolism here. The director and writer, Larry Cohen, was inspired by "the sheer volume of junk food we consume every day. We continue to eat these foods despite the fact some of them are killing us. That's when I started thinking that The Stuff could be an imaginary product in this case an ice cream dessert that is being consumed by millions and is doing irreparable damage to humanity. Everybody is gobbling down this yummy food, so how can it possibly be wrong for us?" Again, the premise seems unrealistic since people are only consuming ONE specific product, but this is a great metaphor for how our society can be in many ways.
It's certainly not much as far as actual horror goes. Cohen also mentioned the reception of the movie lacking since it was marketed as a horror movie when really it's much more of a comedy with some slight horror aspects to it. The production company, New World, wanted a straight up horror film, but Cohen was going for more satire, which he definitely achieved.
But don't get me wrong there's some disturbing scenes of The Stuff attacking people. It's fun to watch since it seems to change texture and form throughout the movie which I choose to look at as less of an inconsistency and more of an example of how it's a sentient being rather than just an edible treat. Sometimes it's more of a liquid, sometimes it looks like marshmallow fluff, sometimes it's like a cross between yogurt and ice cream and strangely enough, every time I see someone eating it, I want to try a bite.
But the scene where they find the man in the back room at the store with his mouth all stretched open? Shudder. The scene where The Stuff is shooting out of the bed in the motel room? Awesome. Watching it emerge from Chocolate Chip Charlie? Creepy.
Speaking of Chocolate Chip Charlie, I'd watch an entire movie or maybe, more appropriately, a crime-busting TV series of just him and Mo. They had some pretty hilarious banter in the few scenes they're together.
It kind of goes out into left field when they get the Colonel (played by Paul Sorvino) involved to help them fight off The Stuff. Admittedly they sort of lost me there with this sudden military bravado it just seemed completely random. Ultimately, though, the story ends as you might imagine The Stuff is, in a sense, defeated, but naturally pops up on the black market, because enough really IS never enough.
A funny, weird adventure as long as you're not dead set on seeing some horror!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This cult film is definitely an acquired taste. Larry Cohen made a name
for himself with cult movies such as this, and he usually had some kind
of unusual monster on the loose. This time, however, he opts for a tale
on THE BLOB mixed in with some social satire, similar to the
mock-advertising Paul Verhoeven uses and Romero's commentary on
consumerism in DAWN OF THE DEAD. It's a hit and miss affair.
As a film, this film is entertaining on a cheap level, with a lot of jokes. The plot twists and turns and is sufficient for your typical "cop investigates conspiracy" affair. The special effects are probably something everyone is going to be interested in, and the Stuff looks pretty good here. There is a nice effect of a big lake of the Stuff bubbling up from underground. Other good effects are when the Stuff comes spraying out of people's mouths which is definitely spectacular.
The acting is average for a film such as this, you've got the typical woman in peril, the kid who knows the truth, and the expected army guys. Michael Moriarty comes across as being rather annoying in most scenes, especially when he makes stupid jokes, but he's a competent actor and can carry the role nicely. THE STUFF is quite interesting and certainly a quaint little movie but nothing to get too excited about. I would watch it just for the oddness of it.
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