Directed by Larry Cohen [Other horror films: It’s Alive (1974), God Told Me To (1976), It Lives Again (1978), Full Moon High (1981), Q (1982), Special Effects (1984), It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987), A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987), Wicked Stepmother (1989), The Ambulance (1990)]
This is a goofy, generally pretty silly, movie, but even so, I do think the Stuff has enough going for it to counter that, and now that I’ve seen it twice, I can definitely say it has it’s place in 1980’s classics.
Going after the consumerism in the U.S. is an interesting direction for a horror flick to take, but this one does it well. I really like the occasional commercials that pop up (and that catchy jingle ensures that we can’t get enough of The Stuff), and it lends the movie a slightly more realistic feel. A company selling a dangerous product is the basis of capitalism, so the fact that the main character here, Mo, is an industrial saboteur, makes it all the more fun.
As Mo, Michael Moriarty is a lot of fun. His ridiculously funny Southern accent really gives the character more feeling, and he certainly seems skilled in his job, as we see throughout the film. I don’t really know Moriarty from anything (Troll being the exception, and I barely recall him in that), so it’s nice to see an actor unknown to me do this well.
The others here are mostly solid, but I don’t think anyone’s really special. Paul Sorvino’s caricature of a right-wing (and racist) nutbag was sort of funny, but he was a bit too over-the-top for my liking. Better was Garrett Morris, but he didn’t really appear near as much as I would’ve liked. As for Andrea Marcovicci, well, I appreciate how they left out much of the romantic angle between her and Moriarty’s character, but I wanted more from her than what we got.
Regardless, it’s the silly story here that keeps us entertained more than anything. The story goes all over the place, literally, as the group travels to different locations in order to learn more about and battle The Stuff. Speaking of which, is there anything catchier than The Stuff’s jingle? Can’t get enough of the Stuff indeed.
The Stuff isn’t an amazing movie, but I’ve seen it a couple of times and it’s fun enough. I liked the special effects here, and the message against consumerism was welcomed also. It’s not a movie that’s necessarily a stand-out of the 1980’s, but I do think it’s worth at least a watch, and probably multiple.
The Stuff was covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if you can’t get enough of the Stuff, listen as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss the film.