The Stuff released in 1985 is a Horror film written and directed by Larry Cohen. This is the kind of B-Movie Horror I can’t help but enjoy. It’s cheesy and oozes the 80’s. It also hosts a few notable actors like Michael Moriarty from Troll and Q – The Winged Serpent and Paul Sorvino, who I will always remember from Goodfellas, Romeo + Juliet and Repo: The Genetic Opera. While the film’s message is the opposite of subtle it never comes off as preachy.
The Stuff begins with a miner finding a strange yogurt like substance bubbling up from the ground and deciding to eat it. To his surprise it’s absolutely delicious and decides that he can sell it. The film then cuts to follow Mo’ Rutherford (Micheal Moriarty), who is hired by ice cream tycoons to find the secret ingredients in The Stuff. Which is putting the ice cream industry out of business and Jason (Scott Bloom), who learns that The Stuff is alive after seeing it move by itself in the fridge late at night. Jason refuses to eat the stuff and his family soon become addicted to and controlled by The Stuff. Meanwhile Mo’ goes undercover romancing Nicole (Andrea Marcovicci) head of advertising for The Stuff. He uses her as his in and soon learns with aid of “Chocolate Chip Charlie” Hobbs (Garrett Morris) that The Stuff is taking over the minds of the people who eat it. After relaying this information and coming clean in the process to Nicole the pair decided to go undercover at the factory where it’s made. Before they leave Mo’ reads in the paper of an incident where Jason trashed a grocery store destroying The Stuff. He heads over to his home to talk to him only to rescue him from his family who have become completely controlled by The Stuff and are attempting to force Jason to eat it. Mo’, Nicole and Jason fly to the factor, where Mo’ and Nicole go undercover while Jason stays behind on the plane. The Stuff kills the pilot and Jason flees, eventually hiding in a tanker truck only to get trapped inside. Mo’ and Nicole go on a tour of the factory, but are unable to learn anything about The Stuff and spend the night in a hotel as they think Jason is safe having given the pilot orders to fly to another city with him should they not return in time and await orders. The hotel turns out to be a trap and Mo’ is nearly killed by The Stuff that was hidden in the mattress. The pair sneaks back the factory and find them filling the tankers from an underground lake of The Stuff. Mo’ hears Jason as the tanker he’s hiding becomes filled with The Stuff, rescues him and steals the tanker. Mo’, Nicole and Jason then seek the aid Colonel Spears (Paul Sorvino) leader of a militia to battle the stuffies and destroy the factory leading to the film’s conclusion.
As I said, I really enjoyed this movie. Far more than I thought I would have actually. Most of this due to the cheesy and entertaining acting delivered throughout the film. But mostly it’s due to how drenched in 80’s this film is. It parodies the times to a tee with fake commercials and slogans that reflect real ones of the times. My favorite being of an old woman in a fine establishment asking “Where’s the Stuff?”, directly mimicking the classic “Where’s the beef?” Wendys commercials
The acting is on point the majority of the film. While campy at times never strays from the film’s set tone. The cast is on the same page throughout the picture. Moriarty and Sorvino aren’t the only noteworthy actors to grace this film. The Stuff also boasts Garrett Morris, whom I recognized from The Jamie Foxx Show and 2 Broke Girls and is Alexander Scourby’s last film.
The effects are mostly practical with a few noticeable moments of rather poor green screen. This is more a product of the effects not holding up as well as the rest of the film. The Stuff its self is a number of mediums from actual ice cream to fire extinguishing foam. The Stuff is the least frightening part of the film as it reminds me of Jet-Puffed. But the scenes where it pours of out of people leaving behind an empty shell are rather unnerving
Final thoughts, it’s good. The Stuff holds up rather well actually. While the premise is silly and the “monster” ie, The Stuff isn’t scary. The idea that the people behind it, selling it while knowing its effects does hit a scary and quit real note. The acting is enjoyable, the atmosphere is tense and the film is memorable if not even a bit quotable. So while not a cinema masterpiece The Stuff still managed to bother entertain and even unsettle me garnering it a favorable 7/10.