Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Stuff (1985)

The Stuff, like most of Larry Cohen's movies is an oddball, unconventional picture that mixes humor with horror.  Michael Moriarty (a Larry Cohen regular) plays Mo Rutherford, a former FBI agent working as an industrial spy.  His job is to discovers the mysterious secret behind a new food fad called merely "The Stuff", a creamy substance that tastes great and is healthy...At least until the consumer gets addicted to it and turns into a zombie.

Mo teams up with the woman behind the marketing campaign and a kid whose family is taken over by it and they try to discover what's behind the new taste sensation and stop it.

The premise is sound and could make for a decent movie if not for the unfortunately low budget and pacing issues.  Cohen usually is able to make the best of a meager budget (Q is a prime example of this) but the movie never really takes off.  We see a pretty good example of what the stuff can do as it takes over a family but there isn't a payoff to it.  In fact, the stuff itself comes across as almost a secondary villain to the company behind it oddly enough, even though we see it at work for pretty much the entire run of the movie.  I'm fine with putting a human face on the monster but the movie also needs to properly build up the monster as well.  The editing is also choppy in parts, giving the movie a strange, unfinished feel.  Cohen cut some stuff out of the movie for pacing reasons, he might have wanted to double check things a little more,

There are some good things about the movie, Moriarty is solid as usual in an amusing deadpan performance (How is it that headcases like him and Sean Penn always end up delivering the goods?) and Garrett Morris has some fun moments (far too few though) as the former owner of a cookie company the guys behind The Stuff have muscled out of business.  Paul Sorvino is also on hand as a right wing militant who ends up helping our heroes save the day.  He's fine but the character seems like he came out of a different movie.

This film was released by New World Pictures, fine purveyor of cheesy 80's horror/comedies and the occasional good picture. I've always enjoyed their releases (Anchor Bay has put out most of their stuff on DVD) and while the films are usually fairly crappy they're still entertaining.

Cohen is a good director and has several entertaining movies to his credit.  This is probably somewhere in the middle.  It's worth seeing once and the DVD has a good commentary from the director but overall, it's something of a disappointment.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.