Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Stuff (1985)

Director: Larry Cohen
Anchor Bay DVD

This is a fun satire on fast food/consumerist mentalities in the 1980's, but makes perfect since today as well. The "stuff" of the title is a supposedly low-fat, all natural desert treat that comes in a bucket and looks like marshmallow cream. No one knows where it came from or what's in it, but everyone loves it and it's highly addictive. All we ever really find out about it is that it comes from the ground and when eaten, it compels people to get others to eat it. It essentially turns people into zombies so the social commentary here moves into Dawn of the Dead territory. The story follows and corporate saboteur (Michael Moriarty), the woman in charge of "The Stuff" ad campaign, and a young on the run from his family after refusing to eat said Stuff once he saw it crawl, as they try to expose the grand conspiracy to the world. They go to the FDA employees that passed it (only one can be found), they investigate a town where it was test marketed that is now deserted, and then finally find the factory where it is packaged. There the "stuffies" uncover them and try to kill them, Moriarty calls in Paul Sorvino as a racist Colonel to help save America, they convince the populous the stuff is bad, then there's an ironic ending. It's all pretty convoluted but entertaining with overt social context. One of the best moments has some average Americans blow up a "Stuff" fast food restaurant that is standing between a McDonald's and a KFC leaving both of those two intact. The effects work is very good all around, the "stuff" oozes and bubbles with menace and pretty gross practical effects of bodies being torn apart by the stuff leaving them.

The DVD is presented anamorphically, has commentary by Cohen, and a trailer. It was released in 2000 by Anchor Bay and may be out of print as I believe a lot of things on Anchor Bay are now, but it is still easily available


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