This week, The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is back with a look at Arrow US’s recent release of Larry Cohen’s “The Stuff” release. A quick synopsis of the film before we dive in:
Are you eating it… or is it eating you? The Stuff is the new dessert taking the supermarket shelves by storm. It’s delicious, low in calories and – better still – doesn’t stain the family carpet… What’s not to like?! Well, for a start it has a life of its own, and we’re not talking friendly live bacteria.. Young Jason seems to be the only one who doesn’t love The Stuff – in fact he won’t go anywhere near it, after having seen the pudding crawling around the fridge one night. What’s more, everyone who eats ‘The Stuff’ has started acting really weird… Now, teaming up with wise-cracking industrial saboteur “Mo”. Jason must put a stop to ‘The Stuff’ and the organization behind it or face a gooey, gloopy demise. Coming courtesy of horror auteur Larry Cohen, The Stuff is a titillating treat for the taste-buds which blends elements of films such as ‘Street Trash’ with the straight-up B-movie flavor of ‘The Blob.’ So grab a spoon and dig on into ‘The Stuff’ – the taste that delivers… much more than you bargained for!
REVIEW: ‘The Stuff,’ written and directed by “horror master” Larry Cohen, is a 1985 film that sounds ridiculous on paper. A film involving a killer dairy treat sounds like a story that, if released today, would find itself lumped in with the worst of the worst Syfy releases. However, beneath the surface, ‘The Stuff’ has both heart and a message. A message that rang true in 1985 and is still prominent in today’s society.
We open on a couple of railroad workers rummaging through the snow. One sees a marsh mellow fluff type substance oozing from the ground. Naturally, he tastes it and basically describes it as one of the best treats he’s ever had. Flash forward and the Stuff is being marketed to the general public. There seems to be a Stuff commercial on at every break, a Stuff stand on every street, and a pint of the Stuff in every aisle at the super market. The treat is being sold as an ice cream like substance that contains no calories and makes you feel terrific. The Stuff has begun to take over the lives of the people in this small town. It’s up to Jason, a young boy who witnessed the Stuff moving in his fridge, David “Mo”, a former FBI agent hell bent on destroying the company, and Nicole, a former advertising manager brought to the light by David, to save us from THE STUFF!
Unfortunately, I had never seen ‘The Stuff’ so I was going into the Arrow release blind. Honestly, the movie still holds up very well. On the surface the movie seems like ridiculous B-movie fun about a killer yogurt. Looking further we see a horror-comedy with heart. The film itself contains social commentary on commercialism and society’s need/addiction to particular products.
The effects are exactly what you would expect coming out of the 80’s. That being said, these leave me feeling more uneasy than anything to come out of today’s theatre. The film itself is really fast paced and enters the absurd at times. One minute we are in creature feature territory as Jason is being harassed by his “infected” parents and the next a small army is overtaking a “Stuff” factory. This quick pace keeps the movie’s energy up and helps overlook the….er…….eccentric acting by specific individuals in the cast.
That being said, our main cast is spectacular. “Mo” Rutherford is a character that only Michael Moriarty can bring to life. The gorgeous Andrea Marcovicci gives plays a great leading lady as Nicole. I can’t forget Garrett Morris’s amazing performance as “Chocolate Chip” Charlie. The cast’s performance and mannerisms truly make this film memorable. The effects are fantastic and chilling at times. I would recommend that everyone watch this film once in their life. If anything it involves one of the most famous deaths in B-horror movie history!
Now let’s talk about the disc itself. As stated the transfer is gorgeous; this is the definitive way to watch this film. The special features themselves is where I found this disc to be lacking. You’ll notice that there is an hour long documentary titled “Can’t Get Enough of The Stuff: Making Larry Cohen’s Classic Creature Feature”. I was very excited to check this out but in the end it wasn’t very memorable. It was cool to learn about the different effects and such but it honestly felt like the participants began repeating themselves about halfway through. There was a noticeable lack of cast members. As a matter of fact, the only cast member included was Andrea Marcovicci. Now, don’t get me wrong, this was a nice little featurette but it had no business being as long as it was as it stopped being informative halfway through. Also included is Darren Bousman’s ‘Trailers from Hell’ commentary. He discusses how influential this movie was on his career. That’s about it when discussing disc content. Included with the set is Arrow’s signature reversible cover art and collector’s booklet featuring an exclusive writing on the film by Joel Harley.
In summary I would recommend this disc for anyone interested in checking out ‘The Stuff.’ There is no difference between this is the UK version released a couple of years ago. This is the best version of the film out and definitely the way to watch. Just don’t go in thinking you’re going to receive a plethora of new content. That being said definitely check out this disc! — Dylan Lyles, Horror Aficionado
About the writer: The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of both horror, comic books and professional wrestling. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the MonsterMania Con on the east coast. You love him and he loves you! Follow him on Twitter at @TheDylanLyles.