There's a stand-out sequence midway through Larry Cohen's demented horror comedy where the stuff of the title comes out of a mattress and attacks a man lying on a bed by shooting him up the wall and onto the ceiling. Look a little closer and you might recognise that room from another popular horror movie. It was the exact same room used in the classic scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) where Johnny Depp's character is sucked into his bed and blood sprays everywhere.
Coming your way courtesy of horror auteur Larry Cohen (director of the It’s Alive series and writer of the Maniac Cop trilogy), The Stuff is a tantalising treat for the taste buds, sharing flavours with cult oddities like Street Trash and B-movie classics such as The Blob. When a man discovers a tasty white substance bubbling out of the ground, he's quick to conclude that there's money to be made from this palatable pleasure. Before long, The Stuff is a new dessert taking supermarket shelves by storm. It’s delicious, low in calories and - better still - doesn’t stain the family carpet. What’s not to like?!
Well, for a start it seems to have a life of its own. Young Jason however, appears to be the only person who doesn’t crave for The Stuff. In fact, he won’t go anywhere near it, having witnessed the dubious dessert crawling around the fridge late at night. What’s more, everyone who eats The Stuff has started to act very strangely. The Stuff seems to be taking over their lives, turning the local residents into hordes of zombiefied aggressors. Jason must team up with Mo, an arrogant industrial saboteur, if he's to put a stop to The Stuff and its crazy ways.
The Stuff - which was actually made from Häagen Däzs ice-cream, yoghurt and fire-extinguishing foam - is one of the better 80s horror comedies to emerge on Blu-ray. Writer/director Larry Cohen can take most of the credit for that. Larry is at his best when he mixes sci-fi thrills with social commentary and farcical undertones. Despite being a product of the 80s, The Stuff still strikes a chord with audiences because the main theme is just as relevant today as it was back then. People are, and always will be, obsessed with embracing and devouring the latest fads. The laughs however, stem from poor performances and comical - if not commendable - special effects.
Known best for his award winning career in television, Michael Moriarty - as the wisecracking saboteur David 'Mo' Rutherford - takes a little getting used to, it has to be said. He's not the most likeable leading man and it does take a while to warm to his slow, deliberate style, but he does become less distracting as the gluttonous goo gathers pace. Scott Bloom plays Jason, and he overacts with alarming intensity. However, it's the memorable performances, not the witty retorts and intelligent writing, that get the most laughs. Subtlety, it would seem, is not a word you would associate with The Stuff.
With a worthy array of bonus features, including an all-new 52-minute documentary featuring director Larry Cohen, producer Paul Kurta, actress Andrea Marcovicci, Steve Neill (mechanical makeup effects) and Kim Newman, The Stuff is still capable of titillating the taste buds of 80s horror fans. It's not remotely scary of course, and the laughs are less frequent - considering the whacky subject matter - than they ought to be, but The Stuff is blessed with creative special effects, sly criticism and themes we still identify with.
With Larry Cohen as its driving force, The Stuff is a whole lot smarter than it has any right to be, and for that reason alone it deserves a place in your fridge, if not your collection.