Distributor: Arrow Video
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Larry Cohen
Starring: Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garrett Morris, Paul Sorvino, Scott Bloom, Danny Aiello.
“Enough is never enough” is the tagline, or one of them, for Larry Cohen’s satirical masterpiece The Stuff. Originally release in 1985, Arrow Video have given it the Blu-ray treatment in 2016. We are treated to a new 2K scan of the original negative as well as some interesting special features for this release. When talking about this movie we always consider this tagline “Are you eating it… or is it eating you?
This is one of those unique movies that combines messages, horror, comedy and loads of great acting in the bonkers world of gooey stuff that oozes forth from the earth and finds its way onto the shelves of supermarkets. The combination presented is pure magical fun and it really hits the sweet spot of everything we love about horror movies. Did I mention it has loads of great practical effects as well? There are some computer generated things but by and large this is a practical effect movie. In the age of CGI overdosing in many movies it is an honor to be able to pop in classics like this and be treated to the majesty of making horror practical again. As far as plot and story go there is nothing magical or heady in this one. The story picks up with ‘Mo’ Rutherford (Michael Moriarty), an industrial spy, hired to find out why people love The Stuff, a mystery new dessert that has hit the market. Jason (Scott Bloom) also notices how The Stuff affects his family and, despite their efforts, refuses to eat The Stuff. While Jason struggles, Mo has sweet talked Nicole (Andrea Marcovicci), a young executive, to help him find out what is in The Stuff. Along the way Mo meets ‘Chocolate Chip’ Charlie Hobbs (Garrett Morris) and he joins the cause.
Mo, Nicole and young Jason eventually find that The Stuff bubbles forth from the earth and not only generates obsessional hunger for itself but also eats people from the inside out, turning them into zombie-like creatures who, when threatened, burst apart spewing their Stuff from within them. The trio eventually link with conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Colonel Malcolm Spears (Paul Sorvino) and a plot is hatched. A raid on the distribution center is carried out, thwarting major deliveries. After this successful raid it is decided to drive to one of Colonel Spears’ radio stations to warn everyone. After much mayhem the message gets out but did it save the world? You’ll just have to watch to find out.
Basic monster movie, yes, but is there more to it? Of course there is. If you watch the special features, director Larry Cohen talks about how The Stuff represented cigarette addiction and the inclusion of cocaine in early productions of Coke. To be honest, I never reflected deeply on this one before but anyone with an addiction, such as tobacco, can certainly relate to the overall theme of the movie. As a recent ex-smoker I can see the draw of The Stuff in cigarettes, those bright little packages and lots of marketing. All we are missing is the music video commercial. So a lesson within a movie where people come apart oozing stuff? Who would have thought it? Not me. Sometimes… well okay, many times I miss the subtle message and lessons from horror movies until one of my friends or someone on social media offers a thought. The fun is to go back and watch the movie with this new cultural filter. This is why I love horror movies like this one, as on the surface they are just great movies but on a deeper level they communicate a message that clicks with viewers and deepens the appreciation.
Just because this movie may be a bit goofy, built on an even goofier storyline, does not mean the acting has to follow suit. In fact, the acting is top notch; Moriarity, Bloom, and Marcovicci form a believable trio, and Mo the spy even turns out to be a likeable character that wants to stop The Stuff. Throw in Morris and Paul Sorvino, who play their characters perfectly, and we get an ensemble cast taking acting to a new level. They are a treat to watch, pun intended.
Arrow Video does it again with its choice and restoration of movies. A new scan and special features that really accentuate the viewing of the movie. In the making-of documentary the question obviously came up about what was The Stuff in the movie; for large scenes it was fire fighting foam, and it’s what you would expect when you had to eat it – yogurt, whipped cream and sometimes even shaving cream. This documentary was really a treasure trove of information and one of the better documentaries Arrow Video have included as bonus material. If you have never seen it this is the version for you, and if you have seen it give thought to buying this Blu-ray. It’s an excellent package and will look great on any shelf, and in the end, after considering the tagline mentioned above, The Stuff has eaten me. I just can’t get enough of this movie.
Special Features: Can’t Get Enough of The Stuff: Making Larry Cohen’s Classic Creature Feature documentary, introduction and trailer commentary by director and The Stuff fan Darren Bousman, original trailer, reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin, collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Joel Harley.
US Release Date: 19th April 2016
Read Horrorsmith’s review of The Stuff here.