The Stuff Blu-ray Review: Once Is More Than Enough

A creature feature that would work much better today than it would back in 1985.
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When I was a kid, there was a new type of desert that had everyone talking.  It was called TCBY (aka the country’s best yogurt) and I remember there being centers all around the midwest.  Okay, maybe not the entire midwest but there was more than one restaurant in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, which is where I grew up.  Everyone flocked to this place to try this yogurt and I remember it being very good.  I also recall one night as I was eating some of it before bedtime.  My dad told me about this movie he’s seen called The Stuff and how this yogurt-like thing ate people from the inside after it was ingested.  Thanks, Dad. I’m no longer hungry anymore.  You can have the rest of mine.  The concept of a substance that ate you from the inside out was too gross for my seven-year-old mind to handle and so I just avoided the movie.  It wasn’t until Arrow Video released it on Blu-ray last month that I would get a chance to actuallly watch it.  Would this give me the same scares I had when I was younger?  Oh, the anticipation is eating at me.

Larry Cohen’s The Stuff is one part The Blob mixed with a portion of Invasion of The Body Snatchers and a dash of zombies thrown in.  It deals with this material that was found on the Earth by these two drunk guys and then marketed into the most popular desert item since the Twinkee. A young boy named Jason (Scott Bloom) sees the white blob move in his fridge one night and decides this isn’t the type of food people should be eating. Wait, his name is Jason and my real name is Jason.  I sure hope that he doesn’t become a victim halfway through. We are then introduced to David “Mo” Rutherford (Micheal Moriarty), who has been hired by rival companies to research “The Stuff” and find out what it's made of that is so addictive.  David soon meets up with Nicole (Andrea Marcovicci), an advertisement executive, and Charles Hobbs aka “Chocolate Chip Charlie”(Garrett Morris), a former popular commercial character. They all soon find out that this taste sensation is a live organism that takes over the brain of its host before eating them from the inside.  Will they be able to warn people in time or is this stuff just too damn popular that no one cares about the side effects.  It’s kind of like fast food.  We know it’s bad for us but yet we still eat it.

While I enjoy the basic concept of a taste treat that turns its victims into brainless zombies, the execution of the storyline needed a little tweaking.  We don’t learn the true danger of “The Stuff” until halfway through and for a horror movie that is a little too long.  Most of the movie's running time shows David interviewing people about the substance and how they are very secretive about it.   After the two guys discovered the material at the start, it should have cut to a commercial with everyone on screen praising the new desert. This way it woud have established that it became very popular.  The camera would pull back to reveal a man’s apartment.  He is watching TV while eating “The Stuff” and we see it devour him.  After that, we can show Jason seeing the food move in his fridge and know it’s a bad thing.  When I saw it move, I just thought he was hallucinating.  Many of you will say that this is a satire about consumerism.  How we are all turned into mindless zombies by marketing to get us to eat stuff that tastes good but is actually bad. The original Dawn of The Dead also covered the same ground too, but it was still a horror movie.  Adding a bit of wit and humor into one is fine as long as it never sways away from being a scary picture. 

There is a lot of great material in this movie and I would love for someone to do a remake of it.  The story would make more sense today than it would back in 1985. They could still use practical effects for some of the gore but with a bigger budget.  It would be way more impressive.  On one of the Blu-ray’s special features, Larry Cohen suggests that with the internet, they could market "stuff" as a real food item with commercials before telling people it’s a horror movie.  I think that would work brilliantly.  Especially if it became just as popular as it was in the film.  The tag line for the product should be “Once is never enough” and the one for the movie should be “Are you eating it or is it eating you?”

The Special Features are: Can’t Get Enough of The Stuff: All New Documentary about the making of The Stuff, the original trailer with optional commentary by director Darren Bousman (Repo: The Genetic Opera), a reversible sleeve with alternative artwork, and a booklet with photos and an essay by Joe Harley.

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