At the start of The Stuff Jason (Scott Bloom) an all American boy in his kitchen for a late night snack, witnesses the fat free yogurt-like sensation that is sweeping the nation – ambiguously named The Stuff – moving in his refrigerator as if it was alive
Alarmed and afraid he attempts to tell his parents but they don’t believe him, insisting he simply shoves more of The Stuff into his mouth supposedly to eat away his fear.
At the same time anarchic FBI agent turned industrial saboteur David Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) is hired by the leaders of several ice cream manufacturers to find out what The Stuff really is and stop its mass popularity damaging their sales.
Attempting to track down the origins of The Stuff Rutherford, nicknamed Mo because as he puts it “when people give me money, I always want mo”, sets off on a crazy journey which has him crossing paths not only with Jason but also with Nicole (Andrea Marcovicci) the head of The Stuff’s advertising, junk food mogul and Kung Fu master Chocolate Chip Charlie (Garrett Morris) and unhinged retired Army Colonel Malcolm Spears (Paul Sorvino).
What Mo discovers is that The Stuff is far from an innocent, delicious, healthy alternative desert but is actually a highly addictive brain altering living parasitic organism that not only devours you from the inside out but is intent on taking over the entire world, one human host at a time.
Much like Jason, I discovered The Stuff by chance having never seen it until this brilliant Blu-ray release from Arrow. And I have to say that now I have tasted its entertaining brand of insanity, I am hooked.
Written and directed by schlock shock jock Larry Cohen, the man behind Blaxploitation classics Black Caesar and Hell up in Harlem as well as devil baby horror It’s Alive, The Stuff is packed with creepy and crazy effects, great gore and very random characters. These elements all make for an extremely entertaining cult classic film.
Moriarty is brilliant as anti-hero Mo, coming across as unpredictable as the plot line and forming a flawed monster fighting family unit with Nicole and Jason and aided by Colonel Spears’ militia who take on the man eating marshmallow monsters exploding out of anyone who ingests The Stuff.
Reminiscent of Carpenter’s They Live and Invasion of the Body Snatchers as well as the films of Romero, hidden within the horror and frivolous fun is a deep and resonant message about consumerism in its rawest form. The greed of big business creates a conspiracy to keep the unwitting populace enslaved to the addictive product to create more cash whatever the cost.
The film is cleverly filled with adverts, branding, jingles, posters and fast food joints all selling The Stuff positioned alongside McDonalds and Pepsi, pushing the point that peddling poison to the masses is not an entirely fictitious idea.
Cohen wrote The Stuff to take a satirical swipe at the cigarette industry but it seems even more relevant today with scandals such as the recent horse meat food fiasco and the constant campaigns by politicians, doctors and activists to curb alcohol abuse and diseases related to fatty foods, all while supermarkets advertise bigger bargains and price cuts to make us buy more and more.
Subtly Subversive and sensationally entertaining The Stuff shows how horror films can be a brilliant vehicle for social and political comment while still working on a visceral and enjoyable level.
The Stuff is so tasty it will leave you hungry for seconds.