Directed by Larry Cohen
Starring Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garrett Morris
Review by Jordan
There are few film-related pleasures quite as satisfying as seeing “The Stuff” erupt through a hapless victims facial cavities. Well, I guess there’s the angry former cookie-making cat Chocolate Chip Charlie (“Don’t you know who I am? I am Chocolate-Chip Charlie! My hands are registered with the mid-New Jersey police as lethal weapons, and I eat them guns for breakfast!”), seeing a kid eat a tub of shaving cream and Commie-hating American renegade Colonels… but thankfully, you get all that and more (or should I say: all that and mo’) here!
When a group of bums discover a melted-marshmallow looking substance oozing from the earth they, of course, decide immediately to taste it; discovering it to be the most delicious food this side of charred rat, and before long marketing companies and food chains have sold it to the entire country. With the entire country obsessed with this “new taste sensation,” former FBI Agent David ‘Mo’ Rutherford (Michael Moriarty, who a year later would appear in Troll) is hired to investigate exactly what “The Stuff” is, and with the help of a young boy Jason whose family has fallen victim to its mind controlling properties, uncovers a conspiracy that puts them both in grave danger.
Larry Cohen’s 1985 assessment of Western society’s addictive, gullible personalities and rampant consumerism thanks to relentless advertising perhaps isn’t as scathing as he intended (the revered director having already helmed dead-serious works It’s Alive and God Told Me To), but what it lacks in stern warning it more than makes up for in schlocky, shoddy fun. As ‘Mo’ Rutherford Michael Moriarty is at his slimy best, his limited acting abilities and sleazy appearance being the perfect anchor for a movie so coated in cheese, with the other standouts of course being Garret Morris as the man who can knock down a door with his fists, and Paul Sorvino in a cameo appearance as the crazed Colonel Malcolm Grommett Spears. The production design is floored, audio often out of sync and the image quality falters, but the unbridled entertainment on offer here more than compensates for all of this, and in fact upon reflection these downsides really work in its favour.
Simply put: if you can’t make a great movie, make a really bad one.. ultimately it will be equally as adored.
For a perfect nights entertainment a double bill with Douglas Cheek’s dingy C.H.U.D (1984) is highly recommended, with both films outstandingly capitalizing on the low standards of mid 80’s American B-movies, and serving up dodgy plots, outstanding monsters and an unbelievably good time.
No matter how many servings I have, I seriously can’t get enough of The Stuff, in fact maybe I’ll partake in it again tonight, and the night after, and the night after that…
4 Intimidating Rottweilers out of 5