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13.11.11

WRITTEN REVIEW: The Stuff

By CORY CARR
You may remember a while back when I wrote that scathing expose on McDonald's McRib sandwich titled; "80's GOO MOVIES: Celebrating the Terror that is "The McRib"", at least you should. Well, it’s that time of year again, The McRib returns! McDonalds has again unfurled it dastardly plot to take full advantage of the brain dead American consumer. Cloaked in darkness and secrecy, McDonalds would like nothing more than to have their McRib found in every home, eaten by every man, woman and child in this great country, resulting in total intestinal evacuation. No one will leave their bathroom. Soon toilets would fill to the top, causing people to flush, and flush, and flush again, taxing water reserves. Toilets would overflow and McRib would grow and move under it’s own power, seeking to devour unsuspecting vegetarians.


Such wonder, and such regret!

Sounds kinda’ cool huh? But there is something even worse on McDonalds's agenda, and that is to steal the plot from the 1985 Larry Cohen flick, The Stuff

This is a complicated story, so pay attention. Some persons and events that transpire in this film aren't important as they stand alone. I will be censoring the story a tad in order to streamline my review.

Our story begins with a lowly quarry worker [I think] who is making his way home for the night. He seems to be the type of guy who would sooner spend his entire pay check on scratch off lottery tickets then pay his past due water bill, even if it means his water gets shut off and he has to wash his crack in a creek. Never mind the scratch off tickets, today is his lucky day. In the dead of night he makes a discovery. On the ground, in the snow, he finds a percolating pustule which is oozing out white… stuff… What does this schmuck decide to do? Well he dips his finger in and gives it a lick of course. To his surprise it “tastes real good“.


“What’s this?! Some creamy wet hole in the ground? Well, I’d better not tell me wife.”

Several months have passed and we learn that the stuff found in the ground has been packaged, marketed, and sold as “The Stuff“, American’s newest snack crazy, by the Chocolate Chip Charlie Cookie Company. This is where we meet our main character, David “Mo” Rutherford [Michael Moriarty]. A former F.B.I. agent who has become a freelance industrial spy. He has just been hired by some ice cream corporation who has given him the task of sneaking into “The Stuff” head quarters and reveal what it’s active ingredient is so that they can “improved upon”.

Mo heads down to the back water town of Stader, Va., home of Chocolate Chip Charlie Cookie Company. Once there, he meets Chocolate Chip Charlie [Garrett Morris] in the flesh. Charlie explains how his company was stolen right out from beneath him by his stock holding family and employees [obviously under the influence of The Stuff]. The two men begin to snoop around and ask the locals a few questions about the relocation of the company to Georgia. Their suspicions get aroused when a shop owner, well, he does this;


Meanwhile, we are introduced to a sub plot involving a young boy named Jason [Scott Bloom]. Upon discovering that “The Stuff” is alive and moving around inside the refrigerator, he rebels against everything that he knows to be true. He even goes as far as to pay his local Piggly Wiggly a visit, where he proceeds to flip the fuck out, destroying everything sporting a The Stuff logo!


"No, NO! I'm never going back to uncle Sandusky's house!"

Jason warns his family, telling them that The Stuff is alive and they shouldn't eat it, but it's to late. Jason's family has made a regular diet of The Stuff and their minds are now being controlled by it. In a creepy, Invasion of the Body Snatchers sorta way, Jason makes a break for it, escaping his family. Guess who Jason runs into, Guess! Yep, Mo! In some unintelligible stroke of luck our two protagonists somehow find each other. Mo just happens to be driving on the very same road Jason is running along. Pretty convenient, hmmm?

With the help of Jason and Nicole [Andrea Marcovicci], the publicist how designed the ad campaign for The Stuff, Mo decides to travel to Georgia and infiltrate The Stuff factory. What he finds there will alter the course of snack food production forever. The Stuff is a living breathing extraterrestrial entity that is being mined from within the very Earth that you and I share.

Mo can't just let this corporate alien symbiote take over the minds of the world. Action must be taken! Mo calls in a favor from an old government friend, Colonel Malcolm Grommett Spears. The Colonel, owns a few radio stations in Atlanta [this is a pre-zombie apocalypse Atlanta] so they take to the airwaves in an attempt to spread the word about what The Stuff can do.


Once word gets out, consumers all over this fine country begin systematically burning The Stuff, which is one of the funniest things I've seen in this film. It reminds me of how people got together and burned KISS records back in the day. The public really gets involved. They blow up the factory and burn down The Stuff stores all over, rendering it defeated.

Well, that's The Stuff, more or less.

THE VERDICT:
The Stuff is a subversive look at consumerism through a strange mix of horror, action, espionage and comedy [I think]. While it is entertaining to watch, it’s hard to put a finger on any one thing that is going on in this film. What I mean is, the parts with “Mo” come off like a poorly played spy flick [or something involving an investigative reporter] while the sub-plot with young Jason is more of your typical monster movie [The Blob ‘58] in which a child knows what is happening yet adults don’t listen. Then, thrown in there toward the end, the cavalry rides in to save the day with Colonel Malcolm Grommett Spears [Paul Sorvino] at the helm. Continuing in a monster movie vein, the military, with all of it’s resources, makes an attempt to blow the living shit out of The Stuff. Now, this is all fine and well, however, Colonel Spears keeps spouting off about the red scare [which I shouldn't even have to point out, has nothing to do with what is going on.] and all but calls Chocolate Chip Charlie a "colored" commie radical. LOL! Not to mention, the very ending shows an underground network of "Stuff" traffickers supplying people with illegal "Stuff", paralleling the real life war on drugs [I think]. What the fuck is going on?!


Mmmmmm, black market Stuff!

There are a few things that The Stuff has going for it. The first are the commercials for The Stuff that litter the film. They remind me of Robocop or Tokyo Gore Police. There is something strange about commercials in film, they break the fourth wall and it can be a lot of fun. The second is a near all-star cast. Michael Moriarty has been all over stage, screen and television, winning both Tony and Emmy awards. Paul Sorvino you may recognize from Good Fellas and Repo! The Genetic Opera. Garrett Morris is one of the founding members of Saturday Night Live. Danny Aiello, from Leon, is even thrown in there somewhere. The special effects weren’t the best, but they were very 80’s, you know what I mean [they blew all their load on fancy explosions and had to skimp on other things].


Is it me, or is it hilarious that "The Stuff" store is exploding between a KFC and a McDonalds?

In my opinion, The Stuff's strong point is it's anti-consumerism message. It shows how products are marketed to people and how "secret family recipes" don't have to be divulged to even the F.D.A. regardless what is in them. The example given in the film is Coca-Cola's recipe, it has been a secret for over one hundred years. The Stuff shows how marketing and peer pressure [mind control], can easily suck us into buying the things that we buy. . . Like a McRib sandwich, available now for only a limited time! Come in today and enjoy tender grilled pork and spicy barbeque sauce. You wouldn't wanna look like some ass hole loser would ya, HUH?!

The film really doesn’t know what direction it want’s to go in and I don’t know who to blame so I won‘t bother. In fact, I think that if The Stuff weren’t so crazy I wouldn’t like it as much as I do. As a film, it’s just Okay, but for any horror fan, it’s a cult classic for sure and defiantly worth a watch! So, this Black Friday while you are at Wal-mart, trying to save a few pennies buying DVDs and Blu-rays, just ask yourself, “are you eating it, or is it eating you?” Muhh ha ha ha ha ha ha! Time for Street Trash!

The STUFF

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