The Stuff (1985) | Larry Cohen’s goo-tastic killer yoghurt cult film is addictive stuff indeed
Enough Is Never Enough
After some weird goo erupts from the Earth, a couple of miners discover it tastes so good they decide to market it. The American public laps up the new dessert known as The Stuff but, unfortunately, it has a life of its own and the not-so-friendly bacteria starts turning people into Stuff-craving zombies. Having seen the yucky yoghurt crawling around the fridge one night, young Jason (Scott Bloom) teams up with wisecracking industrial saboteur Mo (Michael Moriarty) and advertising executive Nicole (Andrea Marcovvici) to put a stop to The Stuff and the organisation behind its distribution…
Are you eatin’ it…or is it eatin’ you?
In these days of rising obesity, you can’t switch the TV on without witnessing yet another programme about food-related health issues or hearing disturbing reports about what’s really going into our food. This just makes 1985’s The Stuff, from horror auteur Larry Cohen, just as relevant today for behind its Blob-style B-movie façade is a fun social satire on consumerist culture, with Cohen aiming his vile-but-delicious goo at the big soulless corporations who value profit over our health.
Cohen’s favourite leading man, Michael Moriarty (who’d go on to work on five of Cohen’s projects) is in top form as anti-hero Mo, improvising much of his dialogue (‘I’m called Mo because I always want Mo’), which only adds to the film’s chaotic nature. He’s accompanied by Scott Bloom (Who’s the Boss?) as the young boy who, like the kid in Invasion from Mars (another B-movie nod here), nobody believes that The Stuff is alive, and Andrea Marcovicci (Trapper John, MD) as Nicole, the advertising executive whose campaign made the Stuff such a huge hit with consumers in the first place.
From TV’s The Invaders (Cold War paranoia) to It’s Alive (genetic mutations) and Q: The Winged Serpent (corporate greed), Cohen’s terror tales always contain a strong political or social comment beneath their hokey horror veneer. In the documentary accompanying this release, Cohen says he was inspired to make The Stuff because he wanted to highlight how big corporations use advertising to lure people into taking up cigarettes, alcohol and medication without really understanding the addictive and damaging side effects.
In The Stuff, he intersperses the story with a number of slick TV commercial parodies, featuring colourful packaging and a really annoying jingle, which may look retro today but were the mainstay of TV advertising in the 1980s. And just as those commercials set out to manipulate, so to does The Stuff – which turns people (and dogs) into Stuff-craving addicts who can’t get enough of its ‘nutritional value’ before sucking their insides dry. The idea that a food stuff can literally eat you from the inside is a great concept and Cohen runs with this by making his Stuff, Earth’s way of striking back at mankind for polluting the planet’s natural resources. It’s certainly food for thought.
Fun, quirky, heaped with great dollops of gooey social satire, totally unpredictable and featuring some great VHS-era special effects, this is a hugely enjoyable slice of 1980s comedy horror from a true maverick. Get your spoons at the ready!
THE ARROW VIDEO RELEASE
Arrow Video’s UK dual format release (and a UK first for the Blu-ray) features a high definition restoration of the film from a new 2k scans of the original negative, with original stereo 2.0 audio and optional subtitles.
The bonus features include Can’t Get Enough of The Stuff: Making Larry Cohen’s Classic Creature Feature, a 52-minute documentary featuring director Larry Cohen, producer Paul Kurta, actress Andrea Marcovicci, Steve Neill (mechanical makeup effects) and Kim Newman. Plus, there’s a Trailers From Hell intro from self-confessed fan, Saw II and III director, Darren Bousman, and a collector’s booklet. The deluxe edition features packaging showcasing Gary Pullin’s fantastically gloopy artwork and a reversible sleeve adorned with the original UK VHS art by Graham Humphreys.
WHAT’S IN THE STUFF
To make The Stuff, Cohen and his special effects team used buckets of Haagen-Dazs ice cream, various yoghurts and whipped cream as well as shaving cream and gallons of vile-smelling fire retardant foam, plus early CGI effects featuring stop-motion animation by SFX legends David Allen and Jim Danforth.
Posted on March 14, 2014, in Cult classic, Horror, Must See, Must See, Must-See, Sci-Fi and tagged 1980s horror, Arrow Video, Blu-ray review, Gary Pullin, Graham Humphreys, Horror, Larry Cohen, Michael Moriarty, Must See, Scott Bloom, The Stuff. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.