THE STUFF (1985) – The Dungeon Review!

“Are you eating it …or is it eating you?”

I love the artwork for ‘The Stuff’! Just look at that awesome schlocky cover! Larry Cohen has a pretty wacky resume including ‘It’s Alive’ and its two sequels, ‘God Told Me To’, and Q: The Winged Serpent. ‘The Stuff’ is Cohen’s little nugget of 80’s weirdness with a campy premise that recalls the classic b-flicks of the 50’s but with an 80’s message of the evils of consumerism. The underlying message may seem heavy-handed but ‘The Stuff’ never really takes itself very seriously.

A man discovers a delicious white goo bubbling up from the earth and soon ‘The Stuff’ is being packaged and sold to the public. It doesn’t take long for the highly addictive product to find its way into every home. Mo Rutherford has been hired by a competitor to find out exactly what is in ‘The Stuff’. He hooks up with Nicole, who was responsible for creating the name and the ad campaign. Meanwhile more and more people are becoming “stuffies” and there is little they can do to fight the viciously delicious dessert that has now taken over their bodies and their minds.

Another nod to the b-flicks of the 50’s is the paranoid “don’t trust your neighbour” vibe in ‘The Stuff’. Stuffies don’t trust people who aren’t stuffies and it is their immediate instinct to want to convert them. One of the best examples of this involves a young boy who had seen ‘The Stuff’ moving by itself in the refrigerator and has refused to eat it. But mom, dad and older brother have become hooked and now this is all they eat. They aggressively insist that he try some, so he replaces it with shaving cream and takes several hearty mouthfuls. Unable to hide his disgust his family ends up chasing him around the neighbourhood until Mo rescues the boy. The poor kid immediately pukes up the shaving cream in Mo’s backseat but is at least temporarily saved from his family and the tasty menace.

There’s not much in the way of gore in ‘The Stuff’. ‘The stuff’ sometimes leaves its host and wanders about blob-like consuming other victims. Sometimes human bodies are literally becoming ‘The Stuff’; a single punch to a stuffie’s head could crack it open like a ripe watermelon. The effects are pretty cheesy looking, but it is a film about killer dessert so really one shouldn’t expect too much awesomeness in the f/x department. One of the films grandest scenes occurs in a hotel room where Mo and Nicole are staying. A handful of ‘The Stuff’ has popped out of nowhere and affixed itself to Mo’s face. Mo is struggling trying to tear it off and Nicole sets it on fire and soon ‘The Stuff’ is taking over the room, white goo crawling up the wall and across the ceiling. Bloody hell this scene is goofy, but it is definitely entertaining.

‘The Stuff’ is not without its problems. The story is vague and it lacks consistency. You never really learn what the stuff is or how it came to be, and in the end maybe it isn’t that relevant. The focal point really is the human reaction, the greed, the paranoia, and the addiction. It has shades of ‘Invasion of the body snatchers’ without the intensity. Although ‘The Stuff’ is not without a few brief moments of its own intensity, it’s delivery is so campy it almost cancels it out completely.

I’m not sure I would go so far as to say Michael Moriarty is a great actor, but I do find him a rather interesting person to look at. I quite dig the unique cadence of his speech and his quirky vibe. I enjoyed him in ‘The Stuff’. He delivers some great lines and gave me some good chuckles. There is a pretty interesting group of supporting actors here including Garrett Morris, Paul Sorvino and Danny Aiello but the acting in general was pretty unmemorable. I only watched this film a couple days ago and really Moriarty is the only one that stands out. ‘The Stuff’ has its issues but it really is pretty entertaining. If you are a fan of Larry Cohen, you won’t be disappointed. If you appreciate a whole lot of camp in your 80’s horror this might just be your ticket. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Larry Cohen

Starring: Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garrett Morris, Paul Sorvino, Scott Bloom, Danny Aiello, Patrick O’Neal

5 Responses to “THE STUFF (1985) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. The Iteration Man Says:

    Ha ha. I think I watched that movie 1000 times as a kid. THanks for reminding me.

  2. Greetings Iteration Man! This is one I hadn’t seen in a long, long, long time. It’s been 80’s month here so lot’s of revisiting old favourites. I almost dread going back to reviewing shiny new horror films!

  3. I picked this one up during October when the local HMV had a massive sale on horror dvds for 6 bucks. I think I even gave one away as a prize on the blog. I can’t remember how many times I watched this as a kid but it was so much fun that I just had to add it to my collection.

    80’s month around here is bringing back some serious memories for me!

  4. Super work. You have gained a brand-new fan. Please keep up the nice posts and I look forward to more of your newsworthy writings.

  5. […] The Stuff is Larry Cohen’s little nugget of 80′s weirdness with a campy premise that recalls the classic b-flicks of the 50′s but with an 80′s message of the evils of consumerism. The underlying message may seem heavy-handed but The Stuff never really takes itself very seriously. The cheesy effects just add to the good times! To read the full review click here. […]

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