The Stuff (1985)

One of my favorite things is to rediscover a movie in adulthood that I loved as a child. The more movies I re-watch, the more I realize nearly everything I enjoyed as a kid was inappropriate for my age and over my head. Larry Cohen’s The Stuff is a perfect example. Surely as a child I had no idea I was watching a clever satire. I think I just liked The Stuff. It reminded me of marshmallows.

Ya like flyin’, kid? This Stuff’ll *really* make ya fly…

The movie is about a mysterious dessert product. Its ingredients are unknown. Many of the investors behind the company that produce the dessert have disappeared. It’s low in calories, but tastes great! Also, it moves. That’s our young hero Jason’s first clue that something is fishy with his family’s favorite meal. Not only does he refuse to eat it, he wreaks havoc at the local grocery store by destroying cases upon cases of The Stuff, which is literally everywhere – you can’t turn a corner without hearing a radio ad, seeing a tv commercial, or bumping into a friend licking a spoon of The Stuff.

Jason isn’t the only one suspicious of The Stuff – Chocolate Chip Charlie (played by Garrett Morris!) knows something spooky is up. His entire family sold their shares of his dessert company to the owners of The Stuff, leaving him tossed out of his own business.

Charlie soon stumbles upon our other hero, Mo Rutherford (played by one of my favorite childhood crushes, Mr. Michael Moriarty), an ex-FBI agent who has been hired by the ice cream competition to find out the ingredients of The Stuff so they can “improve upon it.” They agree to split up, in hopes of finding out more information separately in order to answer the myriad

Seriously, how’s a girl to resist? Look. At. That. Hair.

questions that keep popping up about The Stuff.

More investigation leads to more questions – but it is clear that The Stuff is not only addictive, it also turns your insides to mush and makes you a zombie! Once Mo realizes what he’s dealing with, he realizes there’s only one person he can turn to to get the word out: Colonel Malcolm Grommett Spears, a crazed, anti-communist conspiracy-theorist played by none other than Paul Sorvino (seriously, the hits just keep coming!).

Cohen is hinting at a number of different societal evils here, but it’s not necessary to identify The Stuff as one evil (cigarettes) or another (gasoline consumption) – the point is, American zombies will consume the emptiest of products, for the vainest of reasons. I think it’s always a feat when a movie that is clearly social commentary still manages to be light-hearted, fun and entertaining. While it seems The Stuff gets pretty mediocre reviews, I thought it was pretty clever and very entertaining. I guess that crush on Michael Moriarty helps, though.


2 Responses to “The Stuff (1985)”

  1. 1 seriously war child.
    October 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    This popped up on netflix a while back, and it looked it awesome. I was right. This sparked a marathon of awesome 80s horror movies. CHUD. and CHUDII

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