#31in31 2018: “The Stuff”

“No one is as dumb as I appear to be.”

Story: An old guy finds some bubbling white goo on the ground. Naturally he eats some, and decides to market it. Soon, everyone wants The Stuff. No calories, tasty as hell…is it moving by itself? DON’T PUT UNKNOWN SUBSTANCES INTO YOUR MOUTH. Free advice, kiddies.

Scares: Mostly satirical humor, but a few gross out moments.

Splat factor: People become husks after too much Stuff. But most Splat is white goo.

Closing scene “shocker”?: Not if you’re a cynical consumer. And who isn’t nowadays?

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: It has hints of The Blob and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but this one’s original.

Trick or Treat?: You can’t truly call yourself an 80s horror junkie without checking this one out. The absolutely glorious Michael Moriarty as investigator/saboteur Mo Rutherford. SNL‘s Garrett Morris. Paul Sorvino. A cameo from the “Where’s the Beef?” lady. A story about how consumerism corrupts. This is the 80s y’all.

Part horror, part blistering satire of lemming-like behavior and consumerism. Nobody cares that no one knows what The Stuff is, except for the ice cream conglomerates who don’t like how The Stuff is cutting into their bottom line. Meanwhile, “Stuffies” can’t stop eating it, and not a soul thinks that’s weird. Director Larry Cohen (Q, It’s Alive) cuts to ads for The Stuff, and they’re a glorious tribute to all things 80s. Cohen served as screenwriter too, and there’s lots of hilariously savage digs at American culture that are worth the price of admission on their own merit.

So much talent here – of course Moriarty is fantastic as the smarmy lead, and
Sorvino’s crackpot conspiracy theory survivalist is fantastic.

Problem? Abrupt edits that feel like chunks of (or complete) scenes are missing. For example, how’d Rutherford and Nicole become an item? First they’re introduced, and it sounds like they’re going to go the “mutually beneficial with benefits” route, and then they’re an actual couple that knows the truth. How’d that happen?

Luckily the practical FX are amazing, and hold up as well as early Freddy, Jason or Michael joints. And the messages of corporate greed and mindless consumerism are just as relevant today.

Treat yourself to a double feature of The Stuff and They Live. Throw on some legwarmers and a scrunchie while you’re at it. You’re welcome.

Score: 3 out of 5 pumpkins.

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