The Stuff of Nightmares?
Have you ever imagined what might happen if The Thing (1982) and The Blob (1988) had a baby? No? Oh, okay then. Ignoring the minor issue that The Blob came three years later (although it was a remake, so there is that), their child might be The Stuff. So what is The Stuff? It’s stuff, of course. Specifically, it’s some white gunk that some old idiot found lying on the floor and decided to taste it. I’m sure that’s what we would all do. Nobody would just assume it’s a congealed pile of seagull shit, would they?
Anyway, The Stuff turns out to be the tastiest and most addictive foodstuff ever. Even Fry’s addiction to Slurm in Futurama hasn’t got shit on its narcotic effect. The Stuff is so amazing that if you’re not eating it, your family might try and kill you. Of course, because it is so addictive, that leaves other manufacturers of highly processed, and possibly equally toxic, alleged food in a pickle. Their businesses start to go south.
Who You Gonna Call?
They call in a former FBI agent turned elite industrial espionage guy, Mo Rutherford (Michael Moriarty). Mo loves his job, presumably because it allows him to indulge his hobby of introducing Orwellian levels of surveillance into small-town USA. He’s bugged everyone. If you’ve scratched your cooch and sniffed your fingers afterwards, believe me, Mo knows about it.
Meanwhile, Jason (Scott Bloom) a young kid whose family have gotten themselves hooked on the eponymous gloop discovers that The Stuff is alive! Of course, nobody believes him because that’s just silly. He tries to stop people from eating it by knocking it out of their hands and going on a destructive spree around a supermarket. Jason also eats shaving foam to make it look like he’s eating The Stuff so his family back off. Yummy. If only he had watched Troll 2 and learned that if you want to stop people eating things, you hop on the table and piss all over it. Troll 2 didn’t actually come out until after this movie, either. Bugger.
Post-Brexit Food Options
That’s pretty much the basics covered. I could mention the absolutely brilliant inclusion of Paul Sorvino as a military nutcase but I’ll let you discover that for yourself. The Stuff is Larry Cohen’s satirical take on consumerism and how so much shit ends up in our food chain. Much is made of the comical lack of FDA understanding of what hits our shelves. Here in the UK with much media attention recently drawn to chlorinated chicken and the fucking monstrosity below, it does hit a note! The glorious post-Brexit UK/USA Trade Deal that has had Nigel Farage nursing a semi since last June will probably be made up of such items. Chlorinated chicken, stuffed with The Stuff. Why not, eh?
Of course, you need to strap yourself in for 1980s low-budget cinema. In the case of The Stuff, that means some weird and wonderful special effects. We have dialogue that seemingly goes nowhere. There are deliberately quirky characters. The plot almost turns into Dr Strangelove Meets Dawn of the Dead. It is all an eclectic mix of the bizarre mid-80s when everyone seemed to be on some sort of stuff.
All things considered, this movie is quite the fun little romp. A camp, questionably acted romp with some very peculiar plot devices. It isn’t up there with some other Larry Cohen efforts like God Told Me To but as a tongue-in-cheek social commentary, I can’t really fault it. The Stuff kept me entertained and provided some good laughs. I can’t really ask for more. You won’t be able to take it all seriously. However, you might want to brush your teeth afterwards.