The Stuff, A Film By Larry Cohen

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.

Writer and director Larry Cohen does what he does best… we are brought a story of real-life American values, twisted into horror to tell us what we may already know but simply do not realize. Consumers will buy anything that is popular, regardless of how awful it is. And big business will sell anything for a profit even if it is harmful… and pretty much no one will stop it.

As far as the story goes, it is a pretty good one: ice cream salesmen want to stop their rival, the maker of The Stuff. So they hire Mo Rutherford (Cohen regular Michael Moriarty), former FBI agent and current industrial spy. Even without the horror aspects (which borrow very heavily from “The Blob”) or the social commentary, the story itself is pretty good and Moriarty (multiple award winner) is the same guy we have come to love from “It’s Alive III” and “Q”.

Actually, Moriarty’s presence in Cohen’s films is always something of a mystery for me. Moriarty, as many know, is also a very conservative commentator, sometimes even bordering on racism with his critique of the Muslim and Arab world. For such a pro-Republican opinion to act out a role that criticizes business (the Republican cornerstone) and the wealthy is seemingly contradictory. But maybe this is the proof of just how great his acting really is.

The special effects are pretty decent. A few scenes are cheesy, and you can tell shots are layered… but the hotel room scene (where they use the spinning room from “Nightmare on Elm Street”) is awesome, and even in general you have to hand it to them for making a very lifelike creature from what looks to be nothing more than spoiled egg nog (but probably not as tasty).

Any Larry Cohen fan is going to like this, and even by mainstream horror standards it is pretty good. It is a b-movie, but not nearly as “b” as some of the films he pumps out. As I have said, underneath it all is just a retelling of “The Blob” (noticeably released before the remake with Shawnee Smith came out). I give it my endorsement. You used to be able to find cheap copies at Walgreens and I imagine it has not gone up in price much since then, so there is no reason not to have this in your collection between “American Beauty” and “Gone With the Wind”.