Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Amalgamated Dairies hires David Rutherford, an FBI man turned industrial saboteur, to investigate a popular new product called "The Stuff," a new dessert product that is blowing ice cream sales out of the water. Nobody knows how it’s made or what’s in it, but people are lining up to buy it. It's got a delicious flavor to die for.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
But low and behold it turns out to be a sweet, tasty treat which is readily--basically overnight--mass manufactured as a domestic dessert staple. This film is cleverly complete with television commercials for "The Stuff," marketing it as an adult snack with the tagline "enough is never enough." This tongue-in-cheek propagandist approach reminds me of They Live (1988) as we observe so much social commentary on the American practices of consumerism, advertising, and corporate and FDA ethics.
Like in so many other stories, a young boy (Jason) discovers something just isn't right when he sees The Stuff crawling around in his refrigerator. Jason won't eat The Stuff after seeing it meandering around the some Tupperwared leftovers, but his parents do and they've been acting weird. Like buying a year's supply of The Stuff and throwing away all of their other food in the trash weird.
Luckily, an investigator (Mo) for a competing snack food company is also going around trying to figure out what The Stuff is made out of--and he's not getting answers. It seems that all of the FDA folks who so suspiciously and swiftly approved the product have all left the country. Hmmmm…nothing strange going on here. Just regular everyday FDA stuff, right?
A theme song plays "one lick is never enough of The Stuff" and Models lasciviously lick spoonfuls of this homicidal yogurt; Jason's mother testifies that she lost 5 pounds on a Stuff-only diet; and Jason's father attests that it "kills all the bad stuff inside us"… just drink the Kool-Aid and the allegory cranks on. The satire is so blatant that it's never obscured by the clumsy storytelling, which make the movie all the more entertaining.
The Stuff functions like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). You come into contact with it (via ingestion), and it gradually "replaces" you with a Stuff-replicant that's like you, but not quite right. Once infected, the goal simply becomes to get everyone else infected…but not by force. When Jason refuses to eat The Stuff his parents angrily ground him, sending him to his room until he conforms. When Jason "fakes" eating it, his family is pleased.
The effects include evil stop-motion marshmallow fluff and the gore and facial prosthetics are pretty good for the 80s and remain most entertaining today. At times, The Stuff oozes around like The Blob. But I was quite impressed with the pacing, however schizophrenically haphazard (LOL). Much of the movie (most of the middle) was without interesting effects, yet the utterly brash satire and senselessly incohesive scene transitions of it all keep me laughing. Characters seem to come out of nowhere without ever having been established, then they may never be seen again regardless of the rapport they may have built. The randomness is major! For example, a conspiracy-theory-toting general leading a resistance to The Stuff happens to own two radio stations to spread his message. Oh, and his "army" takes taxi cabs when travelling in military convoys. WTF!?! Oh, and an infected guy just strolls past this army security by making a scene. Oh, and a cookie industry mogul has some ancient kung fu fists of steel. Oh, and this one Stuff-infected dog was his Stuff-infected owner's boss. Huh? Just bonkers!
Curiously, we never really find out where the stuff came from. Did it well up from deep beneath the Earth's surface, did it crash land on a meteor like The Blob (1988), or did it come in a spaceship like The Thing (1982, 2011)? We also never learn its purpose. It's clearly smarter than the mindless consuming machine of The Blob. But was it "trying" to take over the world like in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) or peaceful domination like in The Live (1988)? No motive is ever revealed.
This movie (or, AHEM, it's writer/director) may have exhibited all of the smooth storytelling of an over-excited 5-year old trying to explain something he didn't really understand in the first place. But like a child fumbling over his thoughts in a word-salad of excitement, The Stuff is not without its own special brand of charm. This movie and its franticly forced social commentary are hilarious and it is well worth a watch.
MORE MOVIES LIKE The Stuff: More amorphous enmities may be found in The Blob (1988), The Raft (segment from Creepshow 2; 1987) and Street Trash (1987). The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Live (1988) and The Thing (1982, 2011) all provide stories in which trust and conspiracy are tested during surreptitious alien takeovers.
SIDEBAR: The DVD includes commentary from writer/director Larry Cohen. It's pretty great.
The blu ray edition is great however. Love that Arrow is putting such love and attention into so many obscure, quirky horror and sci-fi films. This film geek loves it and will definitely buy more of their freaky film releases!
The story: A new dessert has captured the attention, as well as the pocketbooks, of the American consumer--The Stuff. The Stuff tastes great, is low in calories, and is apparently chock-full of all the nutrients the human body needs. Indeed, some folks have started eating it exclusively, much to the chagrin of the manufacturers of other desserts and food products. So the disgruntled competitors deploy their secret weapon: David "Mo" Rutherford (Michael Moriarty), an industrial spy and saboteur with a reputation for getting results. With the aid of Advertising Exec Nicole (Andrea Marcovicci) and cookie mogul "Chocolate Chip Charlie" Hobbs (Garrett Morris), Rutherford sets out to steal the secret ingredients of The Stuff. But when he and his cohorts learn that there is something at work more devious than just aggressive marketing tactics, Rutherford and crew take on a more noble pursuit as they work to destroy the addictive hold The Stuff has on the public and expose the product's evil, self-serving manufacturers and distributors.
The wonderful cast deserves a lot of credit for helping Cohen to realize the raw, biting satire of his script. Michael Moriarty gives a hilarious performance as smarmy but good-hearted industrial saboteur "Mo" Rutherford. His earnest but glib delivery of often absurd lines helps the audience to accept the character at face value. And Andrea Marcovicci does an affecting job as the Ad Exec who wants to help right the wrongs to which she's contributed. But best of all is the performance of SNL alum Garrett Morris. He is delightfully over-the-top as cookie mogul Chocolate Chip Charlie (an obvious send-up of real-life 1980s cookie peddler Famous Amos), a dethroned dessert king bent on revenge.
True, THE STUFF is not likely to go down in the annals of great speculative science fiction or classic chilling horror. It's too outrageously camp. But as satire or social parody, it's top-notch cinema. Cohen's tongue-in-cheek screenplay mercilessly hammers away at real-life problems like corporate expediency, cut-throat commercial competitiveness, less-than-honest product marketing and advertising, questionable health and nutritional information...and just about every other unethical practice associated with Western economics and consumerism. Though Cohen's basic premise is a bit off the wall, and though some of the film's special FX are a bit cheesy, the film works because it is peopled with three-dimensional characters that react plausibly to the outrageous situations in which they are placed. That, and it's just so damn funny.
The DVD, from those wonderful folks at Anchor Bay, offers a great-looking anamorphic widescreen digital transfer of the film, along with the requisite theatrical trailer. In addition, there is also a very informative and entertaining feature commentary with writer/director Larry Cohen himself! A disc that is well worth the reasonable price.