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The Stuff is one of the cheesiest movies I have had the pleasure of watching. The premise itself is laughable (evil dessert turning a nation into a crowd of mindless, possessed zombies). I remember watching it with a sense of mild disbelief: how did this movie get made? At the time, I thought it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen, however, years later, I appreciate it for it's lame effects, and cheesy jingle ("Just can't get enough... of the Stuff!"). Only watch this if you appreciate a nice bad movie.
I was not prepared for the craziness and hilarity that would ensue when I saw this movie. Michael Moriarty and Paul Sorvino (who later teamed up on Law and Order, just watch their interaction here compared to how serious they are on that show) play their roles with such dead-panned sincerity. The premise is that a sweet white goo (The Stuff!) is seeping up from the ground and a company turns it into the country's best selling dessert. Only thing is, it soon turns everybody first into addicts and then into zombies. On a horror level, it only mildly succeeds. watch it for the obvious fun the cast is having telling this story. You won't be disappointed.
Over the years I must have watched this movie about four times, or so. And damned be me if this hasn't slowly become my favorite Larry Cohen movie ever. It gets better with every subsequent viewing. Just make sure you let a couple of years pass before you re-watch this, and it will graciously ripe like a good wine. At the surface this is a silly horror/comedy about killer yoghurt (yes, in case you didn't know already, you read that right). But writer/director Larry Cohen manages to build in a lot of obvious and less obvious social commentaries. From mass consumption issues & fast food franchise critiques over commercial propaganda & product sales to politics, racism, crime & drug-use (how's that for a change in a supposedly dumb & trashy flick?). All this in a silly 80's horror movie about a nationwide invasion of an undefined white blobby substance which seems to taste mighty good! With quite a lot of goofy-looking gore and some great special effects too. I haven't seen any of Larry's early Blaxploitation movies, but I feel that "The Stuff" (1985), "God Told Me To" (1976) and "Q: The Winged Serpent" (1982) are 3 essential Cohen (as a writer/director) movies. And I tend to stick with that.
A quick review: It's easy to see that Larry Cohen got his idea for "The
Stuff" by the 1958 film "The Blob." The substance of the "The Stuff" is
vaugly similar to the blob. The story is about the discovery of a white
gooey substance that comes from beneath the ground that is turned into
a widely loved food item. The problem is, once you consume it, you
become a part of it and begin to crave more and more until you become a
slave/zombie to the substance.
Apart from being a slimy substance that eats people to gain mass, slides, gooey and shapeless it's nowhere near being close to the blob. What is distinguishable between the stuff and the blob is the way it looks while it's in the ground as opposed to being in a comet. While in the ground, it's like a white pool of yogurt with mounds of the stuff popping out of the pool.
There isn't much gore or even scares, the only things that can be pretty creeps is when Chocolate Chip Charlie opens his mouth and the white stuff starts to squirt out. There are numerous scenes like that. What is also kind of creepy is the hotel scene in which a man is attacked by the stuff and is thrown against the wall and engulfed by the white substance. These scenes aren't necessarily scary or creepy but when you watch it you begin to marvel at the special effects that went into those scenes.
The acting was corny and way over blown, referenced by a kids knocking over cartons of The Stuff and taking a mop to knock over the supermarket signs and to break through the refrigerator door. It was a bit over-dramatic. Michael Moriarty's character of 'Mo' is a bit too calm and reserved at times, the character Jason was too over enthusiastic and too determined for any young boy. However, if it wasn't for this kind of acting, the movie would not be funny.
When you first watch the movie you can't help but laugh at some of the sly jokes and puns the movie makes about the food industry, however, taking that into account it can be said that this film is a satire on the food industry. It shows how the corporate top cats will go to any lengths to make a prophet, by either mass producing a fatal product or by chemically altering it to numb the side effects. The character Chocolate Chip Charlie is an obvious parody on Wally Amos of the "Famous Amos" brand cookies.
Overall, if you have the opportunity to watch this movie, please do. It's funny, it's smart, it's relevant and it has some bad acting. If you are a fan of "The Blob" or any kind of horror movie that has a gooey or shapeless substance would love this film. Even if you enjoyed "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" or "Soylent Green" you'll love this movie. It's a film that I enjoyed for all the wrong and some of the right reasons. It's not just a horror movie, but a very honest and important movie as well.
Note: Might I add, the television commercials for "The Stuff" is hilarious. "Where's the stuff!" The jingle will get stuck in your head.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Many of the recommendations I get come preceded by: "I can't believe
you haven't seen
" The latest one was for The Stuff, which I didn't
even know about, but which leapt into first place upon seeing that it
was written and directed by Larry Cohen, who did one of my weird
favorites, God Told Me To, as well as It's Alive and Black Caesar.
This movie is a sort of The Blob meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In the first scene a factory worker sees this kind of marshmallow fluff-looking stuff bubbling out of the ground so naturally he eats it. It tastes really good, and he decides that he could probably make money selling it. Next thing we know it has taken the country by storm and everyone is eating it. We then move in on this cute kid, Jason, who gets up one night and sees the stuff moving, and is justifiably freaked out. This is accomplished by a simple and charming effect: turning the refrigerator on its side. Simple special effects like this always bring a smile to the face.
Then we meet Michael Moriarty as 'Mo' Rutherford, this corporate spy who comes off as this really stupid Texas buffoon, but is actually quite smart and just using that as a disguise. He's a real character-as you might say about someone you know who's a bit bizarre-but it's also very refreshing to have characters that are distinct, well-drawn and interesting, instead of characters obviously focus-tested into oblivion to be 'likeable' and 'doable.' Later, Andrea Marcovicci shows up as Nicole, and her character trait is that she cracks her neck and knuckles really loudly. It's just really refreshing to have strange, distinct characters. By the time early SNL member Garrett Morris shows up and is doing his schtick with Mortiary, I was really wanting a regular TV show featuring the two of them.
Anyway, one of the few issues I have with the movie is that it moves too quickly. By 20 minutes in, The Stuff has completely taken over society and Jason is freaking out in a supermarket and trying to destroy their displays of The Stuff it just seemed like I had watched an hour worth of movie in that time. But anyway, during that time you get lots of faux commercials for The Stuff (Enough is never enough of The Stuff!) which are always fun. But like I said, before you know it, Mo and Jason and Nicole are all hooked up together and against The Stuff and are trying to find out where it comes from and you're kind of like "shouldn't this be happening more toward the end? So what are they going to do at the end?"
In here the enterprising Jason has eaten Barbisol shaving cream in order to escape his parents, whereupon he's picked up by Mo, whereupon he pukes in Mo's car, causing Mo to say "That's okay. Everybody has to eat shaving cream once in a while." They find the source of The Stuff, a giant hole in the ground, and there's a lot of running around and explosions and stuff. In here also is a giant Stuff attack where this huge amount shoots out of a bed and devours this guy, accomplished by turning the entire room upside-down. If you listen to the commentary you find out that this room was made on the exact same mechanism for the room in which Johnny Depp got killed in the first Nightmare on Elm Street and though not mentioned, I presume also the same room where Tina bought it after sliding up the wall in that movie. And you know, it's alwaysfun to watch things slide up walls! Especially when they're on fire!
Spoilers! Then you have this crazy general played by Paul Sorvino. You get a cameo by the "Where's The Beef?" lady. Then you have some advanced special effects for a movie like this. At the end they commandeer a radio station and just tell everyone not to eat The Stuff, just tell stores not to sell it, and just tell distributors to destroy their stockand miraculously, they all do! So you never really find out what it was and where it came from, but you don't mind. It was such silly fun all along one doesn't mind a silly ending. Spoilers end!
Overall, a very fun, slightly scary movie with a sheen of social and commercial satire, appealingly daft characters, and special effects created by turning a room on its side. That's all I need!
------ Hey, check out Cinema de Merde, my website on bad and cheesy movies (with a few good movies thrown in). You can find the URL in my email address above.
Imagine the FDA approving something that isn't good for us....pish posh
it would never happen.
The Stuff is great little cheese/horror flik from good old 1985. Since the 80's are my favorite era for a good cheese/horror movie, I decided to watch this gem again after about 15 years.I wasn't disappointed.
When a tasty white substance is found seeping out of the ground, some company jumps at the chance to package it, and sell it to unsuspecting consumers. Cheesieness ensues. Who will stop this fiendish plot to take over America one dessert lover at a time? Well none other then a guy named "Mo", a kid and some broad. The Stuff is filled with delightful one liners, narrow escapes, and over zealous militia guys. The special effects are surprisingly good, and pretty creepy at times. The acting is decent, the plot is.....there, and you'll get a few laughs and maybe a scare or two along the way.
At the end of the day I would recommend this movie for a night of pizza eating and beer drinking.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
after seeing a few .gifs, i decided that renting The Stuff would be worth it. now, the movie itself is pretty crummy - strange bursts of acting from some familiar (in usually better movies) actors. on to the real reason i rented this, the special effects. there's a small part where a puppet of a dog is spasming as it belching up The Stuff. that part reminded me a bit of The Thing (which has amazing SFX, to this day). also, there is a tiny snippet of gore where two of the protagonists burst open some goon's heads (pretty fake looking, but kind of entertaining). the stuff itself is animated with computers, i think, and is enjoyable to watch it slide around. lastly, and probably the best of the SFX moments, is when one of the main characters starts twisting about and pukes up the evil ooze before exploding. if you can stomach some weak performances, this is worth a cheap (cost me 50 cents) rental to watch the SFX. otherwise, see the much superior "melting" movie Street Trash. I ordered another melting movie called "Body Melt", which will probably turn out better than this. overall rating: four out of ten possible stars.
It tastes delicious. It's low in calories. It even gives you energy. It
just happens to be a deadly alien that takes over your body. The Stuff
is a fun movie that makes sure not to take itself too seriously. Larry
Cohen manages to poke fun at the culture and mindset of people in the
80's, all the while delivering a witty satire on consumerism and the
domination of big businesses. It has an interesting story, good
performances, and some nifty special effects. Can't get enough of The
Michael Moriarty is excellent as David 'Mo' Rutherford. His lazy voice and laid-back attitude annoyed me at first, but grew on me very quickly. He's very clever and believable as an industrial saboteur, but plays dumb. After all, he says it himself: 'No one is as dumb as I appear to be.' He manages to be a decent tough guy and keeps his cool the entire movie. Garrett Morris almost steals the show away from Moriarty as Chocolate Chip Charlie, who claims his hands are registered with the police department as 'lethal weapons.' He provides some welcome comic relief. Paul Sorvino shows up halfway through the movie as an anti-Communist General and hams it up. The rest of the cast is made up of unknown actors who do a great job with their roles.
Larry Cohen takes mindless consumerism and satirizes it wonderfully. When The Stuff is discovered, it's being mass produced and sold almost immediately. It takes the country by storm, as most new products do, and everyone can't get enough of it. No one realizes that The Stuff is deadly and turns you into a mindless drone, which is exactly what all new products do: turn us into mindless consumers. Cohen also uses commercials to great effect. The Stuff commercials look exactly like all commercials do as they try to get you to buy their product, even if it's not good for you. Just look at tobacco and soda companies. He even uses the 'Where's The Beef?' lady, which is absolutely priceless. The ruthlessness and greed of big businesses is here too. When The Stuff outsells ice cream, they hire someone to sabotage The Stuff. I'm pretty sure those aren't proper business ethics. Even when The Stuff is destroyed, the businesses still try to market it as something else, a tactic used by real businesses everywhere to make more money.
The special effects are pretty cool, considering the low budget. The effects of The Stuff are well done, most notably when it bursts out of people to attack. We get some nasty squirts and splatters of white gunk, along with some nifty exploding heads. Though not a special effect, the poster / cover art for the movie is very wild looking, definitely one of my favorites. The music is also good. Cheesy 80's music at its best!
The Bottom Line:
A deliciously fun movie that gives a nice satire on consumerism while keeping you very entertained. Go ahead, have a taste...if you dare!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A creamy dessert is so delicious that it's taking over the minds &
actions of the humans that eat it, the only ones that know what's going
on is a young boy & an industrial saboteur played by MICHAEL MORIARTY,
who enlists the help of a semi crazed Vietnam vet & a cookie
entrepreneur & a female commercial director to try & destroy it before
it takes over the entire world. The Stuff has always been one of my
favorites, often times it echo's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS & the
special effects were really good, as is the acting & direction &
director COHEN seems to be having fun with his story, highly
recommended for all LARRY COHEN fans & fans of cult cinema, like most
films of it's type, the ending is left open for a sequel, which
unfortunately never materialized. This is one film that's never boring!
Thats the mission statement of this movie even though this is more than
The story is simple enough : A miner discovers a bubbling crude coming out of the snow. By crude I mean a white, creamy substance. The first thing your mother always tells you, is to put strange things you have never seen before into your mouth, then encourage your friends to have some as well. Not a brilliant start to this movie, but it is comical.
From there we follow the "trend" sweeping the country. That is of course The Stuff. Its a white, creamy dessert that people can't seem to get enough of (it looks like yogurt in some scenes, dough in others and at times it could be Elmer's glue). The other dessert makers are so worried that they hire Michael Moriarty to find out what The Stuff is. Michael's motivation for this role was a cloddish, lush Southerner who was just acting that way to get the better of people. His opening scene he accomplishes the following : 1) staggers into the scene like the town drunk , 2) shakes hands with 2 people simultaneously, twice , 3) comments on all the sweaty palms he shakes and 4) manages to deck the assistant on the way out after getting paid.
The story plays out like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. There seems to be somewhat of a romance going on, but that develops as a result of his pretending to be an oil baron and buying out the love interest's advertising agency. If you are still following the plot, it gets better. Garrett Morris plays they best role of all, Chocolate Chip Dolemite - "his fists are lethal weapons."
It is hard to tell what Larry Cohen was trying to make, a satire or a comedy. For The Stuff could be a satirical look at commercialism and how it turns us into mindless zombies. On the other hand, it could be a social commentary on the increased drug usage during the 1980's, esp cocaine (The Stuff is a white substance that comes out of the earth, that is ingested and one can't get enough of it. Also you seem to gain a tremendous amount of energy). The most important thing we learn is that if someone has a white substance attached to one's face never remove it by turning their face into a flambé.
Notice the nice placement of the "where's the beef ?" old lady (Clara Peller) having dinner with Abe Vigoda and the new catch phrase : "Where's the Stuff?".
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