THE STUFF (REVIEW)
Dir. Larry Cohen
Reviewer. Dan Cook
“Are you eating it or is eating you?” - a great tag line to a pretty dreadful film. THE STUFF is 1985 horror comedy from writer/director Larry Cohen that utterly fails in being either scary or funny. Intended as a swipe at rampant consumerism as well an homage to classic 50’s sci-fi pictures such THE BLOB, the movie sees America becoming obsessed with munching on a mysterious gooey white substance that turns out to be a parasitic alien life form growing from the centre of the Earth. On the case is the former FBI agent turned private investigator who David “Moe” Rutherford (Cohen regular Michael Moriarty) who enlists the help of others including a former Stuff ad-exec (Andrea Marcovicci) and a has-been fast food mogul (Garrett Morris) to uncover the truth behind the delicious but deadly treat which has developed the unpleasant habit of leaving their victims as braindead, hollow husks.
As someone who enjoyed the daft bizarreness of his other movies such as Q : THE WINGED SERPENT and IT'S ALIVE!, I was looking forward to seeing what Larry Cohen would do with this strange but intriguing premise. After all, while the theme of consumerism had already been explored to some degree in George A. Romero’s 1978 zombie epic DAWN OF THE DEAD, the continuous and somewhat alarming presence of unhealthy and sometimes untested products in our daily lives is ripe for parody and satiric unpicking. Alas, a good premise doesn’t necessarily make a good film. In fact, and I say this without hyperbole, this may be one of the worst horror movies I’ve ever seen.
While I enjoyed the overall production aesthetic and the glitzy advertising campaign created for the fictional foodstuff, the awful performances - particularly those of the usually entertaining Moriarty and gangster legend Paul Sorvino, the latter of whom is unbearably unlikeable as a right wing army general - the nonsensical plot, the incoherent editing and the squishy but surprisingly unspectacular slime and gore effects all congeal to make THE STUFF an unpleasant, annoying, incoherent and tedious watch only recommended for those who relish so-bad-they’re-bad movies.
For years, fans have been clamouring for sequel to the film but in my opinion, one taste of THE STUFF is more than enough.