The Stuff (1985)

Larry Cohen seems to have earned himself a reputation as a horror director in the Eighties, despite the fact that he only made a handful of horror films.  Enough of a reputation, at least, that he got a chance to direct a “Masters of Horror” episode back in the Nothings.

He is best remember for his series of films about monster babies, starting with It’s Alive.  However, he also made the flying-monster-on-the-loose-in-New-York-City film, Q, and this rather strange  (and often funny) mixture of classic SF and horror tropes about a killer dessert from the depths of the Earth.

Yep.  A killer dessert.

Some miners find some white goo bubbling up from the ground and discover that it is delicious.  Before long, they’re marketing the stuff as a wonderful no calorie dessert, complete with massive ad campaign and displays in every store.

The only problem is that you don’t eat it…it eats you.

It’s a combination of a lot of familiar SF tropes.  Obviously it references The Blob, but like  X the Unknown, the Stuff came from somewhere deep below the Earth’s crust.  As the Stuff controls the minds of those who’ve become addicted to it, we also get a healthy dose of Invasion of the Body Snatchers style paranoia and conspiracies.

And, naturally, as this is an Eighties horror comedy, we get a few standout bits of grotesque gore.

I’m rather cold when it comes to Michael Moriarty, he always seems nervous and a touch pathetic to me.  Somehow one expects some variation his young, naive and hopelessly idealistic character from Report to the Commissioner.  However, this time, he’s playing a devious corporate saboteur with a deceptively simple-minded façade.  Or, as he puts it, “No one is as dumb as I look.”

Oh well.  It’s enjoyable, light-hearted fun, even if it is ultimately a minor sort of film.  It didn’t break new ground or get called a classic, or achieve more than a comfortable cult status.

But it’s fun, and that’s what we expect from such a goofy film.

One thing, though, that I would like to know:  am I the only one bothered by all the mascara they put on boys in the movies back in the Eighties?  Both the boy hero and his big brother are just loaded with the stuff.  Any more and they’d have looked like Raccoons…


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