Director – Larry Cohen
Cast – Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garret Morris, Paul Sorvino, Scott Bloom, Danny Aiello, Patrick O’Neal
Release Year – 1985
Reviewed by John of the Dead
A close friend of mine has always recommended Larry Cohen’s The Stuff to me, and despite being a big Cohen fan it took me a really long time to finally get to this one. As with all of Cohen’s works I knew to expect the unexpected and some good cheesy horror on the side, and that was exactly what I was given with this 1985 effort. Adorned heavily with social-commentary and fun horror to go along with it, The Stuff is one of the most enjoyable 80s horror films I have ever seen and a treat for fans of Cohen’s work.
America’s newest sensation has hit the shelves as a delicious desert goo named “The Stuff”. Harvested from a hole in the earth, the consumers have no idea where The Stuff comes from – all know is they need more of it. Unfortunately for them, The Stuff rots more than just your teeth and it is up to a young boy and a charismatic private investigator to unlock the truth behind the delicious goop.
Leave it to Larry Cohen to come up with a story like this one. From the get-go we are thrown into the mass of public admiration and hysteria over consuming The Stuff after it is found bubbling from a whole in the ground and then packed and sold to the public. An inquiry from competing companies into what is actually in the stuff and how it passed FDA regulations is what brings David ‘Mo’ Rutherford into the picture as he is hired to work his magic in attaining the desired information for a few wealthy executives. At the same time we also follow a young suburban boy who notices The Stuff moving around his refrigerator late one night. No one believes him of course, and he wages war against The Stuff and the stranglehold it has on everyone that he knows, including his family. Following these two throughout the first half of the first half of the film was fun, especially David ‘Mo’ Rutherford, and naturally they manage to meet up halfway through the piece and cause chaos for the makers of The Stuff together as a dynamic duo. As mentioned earlier, the film is heavy on social-commentary as we see the American masse blindly consuming a product that they know nothing about, through desire and ignorance, which comes off very reminiscent of the products we consume today with the same desire and ignorance. The horror is great as well, which comes via The Stuff exploding out of those who have been consuming it and killing those who pose a threat to it in any way, shape, or form. What I must really applaud Cohen fore aside from his awesome plot is his incredible characters that he wrote into the film. ‘Mo’ Rutherford was highly enjoyable, and he complimented him with a few other very worthwhile characters like ‘Chocolate Chip’ Charlie W. Hobbs and Colonel Malcolm Grommett Spears, two zany individuals whose help he enlists in destroying The Stuff.
Cohen’s direction is just as awesome as his writing, perfectly executing pretty much every element involved. The character performances are great, especially from Michael Moriarty as ‘Mo’ Rutherford. Some may remember Mr. Moriarty from another Larry Cohen film, Q: The Winged Serpent, which he also gave a fantastic performance in. Garret Morris and Paul Sorvino were awesome as ‘Chocolate Chip’ and Col. Malcolm Spears, and we get passable performances from Andrea Marcovicci as Nicole, a spokeswoman for The Stuff, and Scott Bloom as little Jason. Of course, Cohen’s greatest achievement in the film is his horror, which comes in a no-holds-barred fashion employing none other than that goopy white stuff we call The Stuff. Watching The Stuff ooze out of people’s bodies was epic, and even more epic was watching it move about large buildings and engulf all who fall in its path. His execution of the entire film is top-notch, with over-the-top performances from the brainwashed populace that left me brainwashed in wanting to view this film over and over again.
Overall, The Stuff is an awesome 80s horror film from the mind of Larry Cohen that not only gives us one of the coolest horror plots of all time but also comes with superb direction from a genre veteran. The horror is awesome and The Stuff provides the goopy gory goodness I wanted to see, resulting in an effort I suggest you check out if you love fun, zany horror.