Directed By: Larry Cohen
Starring: Michael Moriarty, Garrett Morris, Andrea Marcovicci, Paul Sorvino, Scott Bloom, Danny Aielo
Synopsis: The newest junk food craze is more than it seems. It’s highly addictive and also has the unfortunate side effect of eating you while you are eating it.
Thoughts: Larry Cohen has made some crazy movies. I haven’t seen all of his movies, but The Stuff has to be close to the top of the list as one of the craziest. I’m not sure how you come up with killer ice cream that bubbles up from the ground, but Cohen does just that. The movie is reminiscent of The Blob with the way The Stuff moves, which is probably part of the reason that I love it. The Blob has long been a favorite of mine.
The cast is pretty packed with notable actors. Michael Moriarty, a frequent collaborator with Larry Cohen, is probably most recognized from his run on Law and Order. I’m pretty sure that show is on every hour of the day on some channel. Character actor Garrett Morris plays a small, but memorable part as well. It’s interesting to note that Larry Cohen actually wanted to cast a young Arsenio Hall in that role, but was trumped by the studio as they wanted a more recognizable face. Other notable names include Paul Sorvino and Danny Aielo. Sorvino plays a crazy leader of a militia and is the very definition of over-the-top in his role. Mira Sorvino, Paul’s daughter, makes a cameo appearance as well, just because she came to the set one day to visit her father.
Larry Cohen’s career has been filled with very original movies. You surely cannot accuse him of copying current trends to make movies. His movies are also usually filled with social commentary, whether it is pointing a finger at the church in God Told Me Too, societal acceptance in the It Lives trilogy or consumerism in The Stuff. It is apparent that Cohen has a lot to say and uses his movies to say it. Cohen has focused on writing screenplays the last couple of years, although he did get back behind the camera to direct a Masters of Horror episode in 2006.
The Stuff may not top any lists of best 80s horror, but I think it works on a couple levels. At its core, it is a fun sci-fi/horror movie with tongue in cheek humor, but is also a deeper movie, damning both American consumerism as well as our abhorrent eating habits when it comes to junk food. Cohen delivers his commentary just like I like it. It’s not too heavy handed and doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the movie, much like Romero’s early work. I suggest checking it out if you can. It’s not readily available on DVD or Blu-Ray right now, but you can find it on a couple of different streaming services.