So, it’s only the second night of my Halloween horror watchathon and I’ve already screwed up. I’d planned to watch Joy Ride for the first time, but apparently it’s expired from the service I’d planned to stream it from. Very frustrating! It sucks that things have already gone wrong on night 2 but I had a Plan B.
Larry Cohen’s 1985 horror movie The Stuff is that weird film that reminds you of so many other movies and yet still feels like a breath of fresh air. There’s ingredients taken from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Halloween 3, The Blob, and Soylent Green. It’s a nasty, weird horror satire about commercialism and corporate greed in America.
Some white goo comes bubbling out of the ground and a company decides to sell it as a dessert because it tastes good. The Stuff, as it’s called, actually alters your mind and turns you into a hallowed out junkie, or a “Stuffy.” Instead of Pod People representing the spread of Communism, The Stuff represents the morally bankrupt fast food chains who try to package a product as fun and delicious regardless of whether it’s safe to eat or not.
The Stuff is a whole lot of fun. And it’s nasty fun, too. This was the first time I’ve seen it but I know it won’t be the last. On top of a weird concept, the film has a collection of strange characters to tell the story. Michael Moriarty plays a cowboy boot wearing industrial spy who’s put on the case by Big Ice Cream and ends up finding much more than he’d bargained for. Moriarty’s performance is big and hammy but it’s also very funny. Paul Sorvino has a small part as an ultra-right wing militia man. Garrett Morris plays Chocolate Chip Charlie, a man who’s fists are registered as deadly weapons. Andrea Marcovicci plays a Madison Ave ad lady who’s partially responsible for creating Stuff fever and regrets her role in the whole thing. Danny Aiello has a cameo as a man who’s terrified of his own dog. And there’s a little kid who’s a radical revolutionary that’s trying to destroy The Stuff at his local supermarket and family home.
With so much character and wild ideas, it’s a wonder the film holds together. And truth be told, some of it does feel a little cheap and sloppy. But I enjoyed the hell out of The Stuff overall. Funny, clever, and ooey, gooey gross.
Tomorrow: Zombie Fight Club. I promise.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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