Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Stuff (1985, USA)

Directed by: Larry Cohen
Produced by: Paul Kurta
Written by: Larry Cohen
Starring: Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garrett Morris, Paul Sorvino, Scott Bloom, Danny Aiello, Patrick O'Neal, James Dixon, Rutanya Alda
Music by: Anthony Guefen, Richard Seaman (jingles)
Cinematography: Paul Glickman
Editing by: Armand Lebowitz
Distributed by: New World Pictures, Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release dates: June 14, 1985
Running time: 93 min
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $1,700,000 (estimated)
Box office: Unknown
Plot: Weird yummy goo erupts from the earth and is discovered by a couple of miners. They taste it and decide to market it because it tastes so good. The American public literally eats up the new dessert sensation now known as the Stuff but, unfortunately, it takes over the brains of those who eat it, turning them into zombie-like creatures. It is up to ex-FBI agent David Rutherford and a kid named Jason to stop the spread of the mind-devouring dessert.

Info: The Stuff (aka Larry Cohen's The Stuff) is a 1985 American horror film written, produced, and directed by Larry Cohen and starring Michael Moriarty, Garrett Morris, Andrea Marcovicci, and Paul Sorvino. It was also the last film of noted actor Alexander Scourby.

Release: The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by New World Pictures in June 1985. The film was released on VHS by New World Home Video. It was eventually released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2000. This version is currently OOP (out of print). On September 11, 2011, Image Entertainment released "The Stuff" under its "Midnight Madness Series" banner on DVD. It is a direct port of the Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD release. A Special Edition Blu-ray was released in the United Kingdom on March 10, 2013 by Arrow Films.

The Stuff original 1985 trailer. Same background music was used in the C.H.U.D. (1984) trailer. Possibly due to both movies produced by same production company, New World Pictures and budgeting.

Film Facts: Some of the substance props or stand-ins for the real Stuff used in the movie included lots of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, yogurt, and, for one scene involving an enormous avalanche-like effect of Stuff crashing through a wall, fire-extinguishing foam. Other shots, such as the ones of the giant lake of Stuff, required superimposed images and animation.

The scene in the motel where the Stuff comes out of the mattress and pillows and attacks the man on the wall and ceiling was shot in a room that could turn upside down, allowing the Stuff to move up and down the wall. It was exactly the same room used in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) when Johnny Depp's character Glen is sucked into his bed and his blood is regurgitated back out onto the ceiling.

Released by Arrow Video (UK). The Stuff Blu-ray. This Blu-ray is a PAL, region B/2. Released only in the United Kingdom. Artwork by Gary Pullin.
Writer-director Larry Cohen wanted to cast Arsenio Hall as Chocolate Chip Charlie W. Hobbs, since he thought he was not only good but a rising star. However, the execs at New World Pictures wanted someone more recognizable, and thus cast Garrett Morris instead.

A young Mira Sorvino makes an uncredited appearance in the film. She had come to visit her father, Paul Sorvino, on set, and was used as an extra. She came to prominence after winning the Academy Award and Golden Globe for best supporting actress for her performance in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite (1995). She is also known for her roles in the films Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997), Mimic (1997), The Replacement Killers (1998), Summer of Sam (1999), and more recently Like Dandelion Dust (2009). She received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for her role in Norma Jean & Marilyn (1996), and a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Human Trafficking (2005). Films us horror fans could give two shits about, besides Mimic and Summer of Sam.

 The Stuff 1985 VHS distributed by New World Pictures.
According to Larry Cohen himself, in some scenes where the Stuff chases characters, a foam made of blended fish bones had been used. It stank so much that, as soon as the shots were done, the actors ran to a river in order to bath and get rid of the stench.

The Stuff is also a reference to The Blob (1958). Blob creature attacks people and grows in size.

Brooke Adams holding a container of Stuff as in a commercial: "Enough is never enough."

In this ultra-gross-and-proud-of-it B-movie, some people discover a strange substance bubbling out of the ground. They taste it (yes, they find something on the ground and just eat it!), like it, and decide to start marketing it as The Stuff; it quickly becomes the most popular food of all. But, sure enough, a detective (Michael Moriarty) hired by the candy companies discovers that The Stuff turns people into obedient zombies before completely dissolving their innards. So, only he, an advertising executive (Andrea Marcovicci), and a boy (Scott Bloom) can stop The Stuff from taking over the world.
The Stuff container label. I always wondered why my yogurt tasted so weird... Maybe because it was made in Georgia?
A completely ridiculous idea? Absolutely. But, also brilliant. But one might interpret "The Stuff" as a parable about excessive consumerism brainwashing people into brand loyalty. There's also a scene in which Paul Sorvino's right-wing yahoo of a colonel claims that in the case of the Vietnam War, we lost the war at home (so it was perfectly OK to invade their country). But I mostly saw the movie as a 1980s time capsule. There's the over-synthesized music for the TV commercials, the impossibly polite suburban family, and more. Of course, most people into these kinds of movies will probably agree that the coolest scenes are when people spit The Stuff out after it dissolves them. Director Larry Cohen (who also directed the killer baby vehicle "It's Alive") pulls no punches.
Collectability for The Stuff is obsolete. There was no type of memorabilia produced. Besides the VHS and original one sheet movie poster. Which is considered highly collectible. But, we did come across these cool custom made 'The Stuff' containers. Internet super fan Darko had his local graphic designer produce what he thinks is the most movie accurate "The Stuff" label and container. Containers are USA made (homemade ice cream) container 16 oz. (Pint) (.474ml). Note: The Stuff not included.
All in all, this is quite a treat. Sort of an updated "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Also starring Danny Aiello and former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Garrett Morris.

Amazon: The Stuff (Image Entertainment / Midnight Madness Series) - $7.62 (DVD)

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